Questions tagged [philosophy-of-science]

For questions about the branch of philosophy studying science, scientists, the scientific method and related topics.

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2answers
155 views

Were there any famous Asian philosophers who were also mathematicians?

New here, had a question: Were there any famous Asian philosophers who were also mathematicians? Happy Xmas!
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590 views

Why is pure mathematics important? More generally, why do some scientists deal with inaplicable notions?

I am a freshman, mathematics. I have a presentation assignment for a class. I am expected to talk about the necessity of abstract sciences. The thesis I need to argue is the following: ''Some people ...
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What was the major influence of Francis Bacon on the development of modern science?

I am reading "Advice for young investigators" by Santiago Ramón y Cajal , in which the author suggested Francis Bacon had made no impact on the scientific development*: "It would not be wise in ...
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258 views

What did it historically mean in physics for something to “exist”?

What is the history of influential definitions of objective existence --- This Is Real, It Exists --- in physics? Where did they appear in the literature and in what context were they put forward? ...
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71 views

Was Joseph Priestley describing fundamental interactions in the 18th century?

In 1777, Joseph Priestley wrote a book called Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit, in which he says: It is maintained in this treatise, that neither matter nor spirit (meaning by the latter ...
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2answers
292 views

Did Gödel consider himself primarily a philosopher who is interested in mathematics (instead of the other way round)?

Kurt Gödel is one of the "best" logicians of the 20th century. Here, the user "Jeffrey Kegler" states that: Kurt Gödel considered himself a philosopher who did mathematics, rather than as a ...
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193 views

Who was the first scientist to suggest that objects can keep moving without applied force?

In the old days Aristotels argued that object needs a force to keep going in 'space'. Some philosophers, Philoponus and Buridanus (?), later argued that there was a need for some kind of 'impetus'. ...
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1answer
471 views

Hidden agenda of the Galileo trial?

Redondi argued that Galileo's trial on heliocentrism was merely a show trial concealing the real objection against Galileo among the catholic establishment, which was his atomism thought to be at ...
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1answer
65 views

Are there fields of science that became more successful after becoming less clearly understood?

In machine learning, people have been more and more letting go of the idea that they should understand how a particular algorithm works, and accepting it on the basis that it "just works". Are there ...
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204 views

Debate between relationship of philosophy of mathematics and physics

Did there exist and does there still exist a debate over which school of mathematical thought (i.e. formalism, logicism, intuitionism, etc.) had the most affinity or application for physics? In ...
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90 views

Was interpretivism always considered scientific by part of the people?

I always was amazed by how disciplines which can give very different grades of accuracy (exact sciences in contrast to others which fails in its predictions more times than they are successful) can ...
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1answer
102 views

What are the earliest known accounts of the demarcation problem (science versus pseudo science)?

The demarcation problem, i.e. the problem of differentiating science from pseudo science has been on my mind recently. This might be considered a philosophy topic for philoSE but since my question has ...
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102 views

Galileo's pendulum and any references

In some texts about the simple pendulum we use to see references about some "experiments" Galileo Galilei did realize and whereby he found some important results, including that the period of the ...
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76 views

Cauchy's real line and math philosophy till XIX

I have to write an essay concerning philosophy of mathematics until the end of XIX century. I've heard that the reason why the Cauchy's theorem (if continuous functions $fn→f$ then $f$ is continuous ...
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30 views

Where did the idea of modularization come from?

I have a wild guess that science flew when we started to take the concepts, fragment it and examine it piece by piece, fragmenting it again when needed for a better understanding. It seems that this ...
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1answer
64 views

Is there an explicit description of Landis-Petrovskiĭ's mistake in their “solution” to Hilbert's 16th problem?

The second part of the Hilbert's 16th problem (determination of the upper bound on the number of limit cycles for two-dimensional polynomial vector fields of given degree), proposed in 1900, is still ...
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992 views

Who was the first to say “Shut up and calculate!”?

The best thing I could find on the internet was this apparently forgotten aricle from 12 years ago.
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69 views

Have humans gotten better at the methods of science over time? [closed]

Im currently reading the book A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and as I'm reading about the history of many fields of science (e.g. paleontology, geology, astronomy, etc.) it seems ...
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1answer
212 views

If the lens wasn't discovered/invented what current technologies wouldn't be possible [closed]

When I'm thinking of the most crucial discoverys of science than I think of the lens invented in the 16e century. By using a lens man could make microscopes and telescopes. When I think about that ...
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585 views

When and who was the first mathematicians to prove rigorously that $\sqrt[3]{2}$ was impossible number? [closed]

The purpose of the question is to understand why the number $\sqrt[3]{2}$, that was proven rigorously by ancient Greek is an impossible number (even at infinity), by their three famous impossibility ...
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1answer
134 views

Different models for the development of mathematics: Latin versus butterfly

Ian Hacking's new book *Why is there philosophy of mathematics at all?", see here, contains many interesting ideas. One of the ideas is the dichotomy of two distinct models for the development of a ...
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408 views

When or why & who originated this puzzle, $0.999… = 1$ [duplicate]

The problem is the infinite or endless repeated digits of $9's$ after zero digit and the decimal notation, Despite its apparent simplicity & the huge talk about it every where in mathematics or ...
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314 views

Nowadays I see a distinct “line” dividing people working in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences. Why?

The direction in which leading research is heading in these subjects (Math, Physics) is very much different and don't seem to be in tandem. Is this something that developed in more recent times? This ...
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878 views

How were irrational numbers that are not constructible accepted by mathematicians?

What was behind accepting the existence of irrational numbers historically? Especially numbers that are not constructible on the real number line, say for example $\sqrt[3]{2}$. Was it a (somewhat) ...
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165 views

How was difference in water pressure perceived in ancient cultures or the middle ages?

I recently wondered: Even when diving to just 2-3 meters without any modern equipment one can feel the change in pressure. Do we have any evidence how this was perceived and explained back in ancient ...
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Hypothesis testing: Fisher vs. Popper vs. Bayes

I try to make my question short. I am familiar with Popper’s philosophy as well as with statistical hypothesis testing after Fisher and Neyman-Pearson. I am not so familiar with the Bayesian approach ...
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4answers
387 views

In which ways has religion helped the progress of science? [closed]

I am writing a research paper on the interplay between science and religion, and need some examples of times when religion has benefited or inspired science and technology.
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Where can I learn more about intellectuals who were wrongfully harmed for their correct theories?

Epistemology and philosophy of science reference intellectual, sagacious, scholarly vanguards such as Michael Servetus (who correctly explicated pulmonary circulation) and Dr Ignaz Semmelweis (who ...
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1k views

Grothendieck's Approach to Solving Problems

Alexander Grothendieck is known to have revolutionized several areas of mathematics. His insights were very deep, original and revolutionary. Time after time he showed that he could see in ways that ...
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2answers
505 views

History of impact of non-Euclidean geometry on math, philosophy, and the public

I'm interested in the impact of the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry on math, philosophy, and the attitudes of the general public. I don't know anything about how things changed right after the ...
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210 views

Historical examples of non-scientists who thought scientifically

I am working on a project in which I want to show how the thoughts of some non-scientists, poets and artists in particular, matched with science. To instill interest in science among my peers I want ...
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393 views

David Hilbert and the limits of science

David Hilbert wrote a couple of anecdotal paragraphs regarding "the limits of science." He recalled that in the early 19th Century the position of a philosopher - or philosophy in general - was that ...
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625 views

How many proven theories have been debunked?

Was watching Dark Matters: Twisted but true the other night. It was about Einstein and how he turned the knowledge of physics up side down and pretty much said that "Newton was wrong", simplified. ...
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298 views

Why did Newton want lines to be generated by continued motion of points rather than by apposition of parts?

The following passage has been extracted from the Newton's (John Stewart's English translated version) "Sir Issac Newton's two Treatises: Of the Quadrature of Curves, and Analysis by equations of an ...
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463 views

History of the study of indeterminism in classical mechanics

The classic Norton's dome problem, space invaders and other examples, show that Classical Mechanics, held as the paragon of determinism for ages having inspired Laplace's statements on determinism, is ...
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4answers
889 views

Conflict between physics and philosophy

In the old days. stars of physicists like Einstein$^{[1]}$, Poincare, Heisenberg, Pauli, $^{[2]}$ Bohr and so on are quite philosophical mind, and like philosophy. $^{[3]}$ But now, it seems to me a ...
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609 views

Why and when did some areas separate themselves from philosophy and some not?

When the Greeks invented science and mathematics in around 600 BC, it was considered as a part of philosophy. Thales of Miletus was a mathematician and philosopher. Aristotle was a philosopher, ...
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7k views

What is the origin of polynomials and notation for them?

This may be quite a broad question, but lately I've been wondering about the history behind polynomials. Nowadays these are pretty much the simplest kind of functions to work with, but I'd like to ...
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Why did Aristotle make mistakes in his laws of motion?

I was studying Aristotle's laws of motion and comparing them to Newton's. He states that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones. I really can't understand how he could have committed such a ...
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2k views

Is the Scientific Method uniquely Western?

I'm studying High School Science teaching in Australia. In our Science curriculum there are "cross-curriculum" priorities "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures" and "Asia and ...
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How did people react to the realization that Aristotle's ideas had gone without question for way too long?

Recently read the book "Gravity" by George Gamow, in which he says: For centuries Aristotelian philosophy and scholasticism dominated human thought. Scientific questions were answered by dialectic ...
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In ancient times, how did people conclude that the shape of Earth is a sphere?

This is more of a philosophical question, but I want a mathematical explanation. During ancient times, it was well accepted that the surface of Earth was spherical. People first observed this when ...
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171 views

What are the early examples of taxonomies in the history of science?

When you think of taxonomies, the first thing that comes to mind is Linneaus. But taxonomies were and continue to be used for all kinds of classification, from biology to astronomy and even ...
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226 views

Modern critiques of, alternatives to Kuhn's paradigm shifts?

Kuhn's theory of paradigm shifts dates back over 50 years. Are there modern critiques of or alternatives to his theory? It seems to have been controversial from the start, with some people apparently ...
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248 views

Are there any canonical books on history of science?

I was looking for some fundamental books on history of science. I picked Thomas Kuhn book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" but it's not exactly about history of science - it's more on ...
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784 views

Why was the Vienna Circle so important?

As far as I know the Vienna Circle was very relevant to science in the twentieth century. Why? What was the importance of the members' philosophy in science? Would science be too different from what ...
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443 views

Which school of philosophy motivated thinking about spaces of higher dimension?

I'm trying to make a link between important mathematical breakthroughs in history and the important philosophical schools at the time. I realize that this topic is awfully broad and could be the ...
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1answer
310 views

Philosophy behind category theory

Category theory represented a huge change in the way the community thought about mathematics, leaving its the set theoretic nature behind and bringing up the importance of arrows between the objects ...
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955 views

History of the term innovation and its difference with invention?

Today, research and science is often associated to innovation (particularly by governments and funding agencies). I would like to understand how we got here and when the use of innovation as a ...
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166 views

Leibniz's stand on axioms and definitions

Recently while discussing with a friend he claimed that Leibniz was fond of proceeding axiomatically and from definitions. I find this hard to believe. My conception is that Leibniz was more ...