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Philosophical Concepts in Physics

Philosophical Concepts in Physics
The Historical Relation between Philosophy and Scientific Theories

$125.99 (X)

  • Date Published: February 1998
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521578233

$ 125.99 (X)

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About the Authors
  • This book examines a selection of philosophical issues in the context of specific episodes in the development of physical theories and presents scientific advances within their historical and philosophical contexts. Philosophical considerations have played an essential and ineliminable role in the actual practice of science. The book begins with some necessary introduction to the history of ancient and early modern science, but emphasizes the two great watersheds of twentieth-century physics: relativity and quantum mechanics. At times the term "construction" may seem more appropriate than "discovery" for the way theories have developed and, especially in later chapters, the discussion focuses on the influence of historical, philosophical and even social factors on the form and content of scientific theories.

    • Fascinating graduate-level text on the interface between philosophy and physics
    • First-ever attempt to address this subject at textbook level, based on course at Notre Dame University
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'For anyone who really wants to understand physics, this is a splendid and beautifully written book … this book is an excellent introduction to a historically based philosophy of science, with accurate reporting of many examples from physics, and much attention to primary sources. I would recommend it strongly as an adjunct to standard textbooks of physics for students who seek a real understanding of their subject.' Michael Redhead, Physics World

    '… I think that Cushing has done an excellent job. If I again teach a course similar to his I will certainly consider using his book as a text …'. Anthony Leggett, The Times Higher Education Supplement

    'As a chronological text in the history and philosophy of science for undergraduate students of the physical sciences, this book is unexcelled.' J. Leplin, Endeavour

    'Altogether, the book provides a good overview of the basis underlying 3000 years of physical knowledge …'. H Rechenberg, Institute of Physics Publishing

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 1998
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521578233
    • length: 448 pages
    • dimensions: 241 x 170 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • contains: 133 b/w illus. 9 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Scientific Enterprise:
    1. Ways of knowing
    2. Aristotle and Francis Bacon
    3. Science and metaphysics
    Part II. Ancient and Modern Models of the Universe:
    4. Observational astronomy and the Ptolemaic model
    5. The Copernican model and Kepler's laws
    6. Galileo on motion
    Part III. The Newtonian Universe:
    7. Newton's Principia
    8. Newton's law of universal gravitation
    9. Some old questions revisited
    Part IV. A Perspective:
    10. Galileo's Letter to the Grand Duchess
    11. An overarching Newtonian framework
    12. A view of the world based on science: determinism
    Part V. Mechanical Versus Electrodynamical World Views:
    13. Models of the aether
    14. Maxwell's theory
    15. The Kaufmann experiments
    Part VI. The Theory of Relativity:
    16. The background to and essentials of special relativity
    17. Further logical consequences of Einstein's postulates
    18. General relativity and the expanding universe
    Part VII. The Quantum World and the Completeness of Quantum Mechanics:
    19. The road to quantum mechanics
    20. 'Copenhage' quantum mechanics
    21. Is quantum mechanics complete?
    Part VIII. Some Philosophical Lessons from Quantum Mechanics:
    22. The EPR paper and Bell's theorem
    23. An alternative version of quantum mechanics
    24. An essential role for historical contingency?
    Part IX. A Retrospective:
    25. The goals of science and the status of its knowledge
    General references
    Author index
    Subject index.

  • Author

    James T. Cushing, University of Notre Dame, Indiana

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