Particles and Waves: Historical Essays in the Philosophy of Science

Paperback | April 30, 1999

byPeter Achinstein

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This volume brings together eleven essays by the distinguished philosopher of science, Peter Achinstein. The unifying theme is the nature of the philosophical problems surrounding the postulation of unobservable entities such as light waves, molecules, and electrons. How, if at all, is itpossible to confirm scientific hypotheses about "unobservables"? Achinstein examines this question as it arose in actual scientific practice in three nineteenth-century episodes: the debate between particle and wave theorists of light, Maxwell's kinetic theory of gases, and J.J. Thomson's discoveryof the electron. The book contains three parts, each devoted to one of these topics, beginning with an essay presenting the historical background of the episode and an introduction to the philosophical issues. There is an illuminating evaluation of various scientific methodologies, includinghypothetico-deductivism, inductivism, and the method of independent warrant which combines features of the first two. Achinstein assesses the philosophical validity of both nineteenth-century and modern answers to questions about unobservables, and presents and defends his own solutions.

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From Our Editors

Particles and Waves deploys the analytical rigor Achinstein is justly famous for. Judged against the recent spate of very good historico-philosophical arguments, Achinstein's book stands out as making the most penetrating and profound philosophic contributions.

From the Publisher

This volume brings together eleven essays by the distinguished philosopher of science, Peter Achinstein. The unifying theme is the nature of the philosophical problems surrounding the postulation of unobservable entities such as light waves, molecules, and electrons. How, if at all, is itpossible to confirm scientific hypotheses about...

From the Jacket

Particles and Waves deploys the analytical rigor Achinstein is justly famous for. Judged against the recent spate of very good historico-philosophical arguments, Achinstein's book stands out as making the most penetrating and profound philosophic contributions.

Peter Achinstein is at The Johns Hopkins University.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 9.17 × 6.14 × 0.94 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019506755X

ISBN - 13:9780195067552

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From Our Editors

Particles and Waves deploys the analytical rigor Achinstein is justly famous for. Judged against the recent spate of very good historico-philosophical arguments, Achinstein's book stands out as making the most penetrating and profound philosophic contributions.

Editorial Reviews

"[Achinstein] is sensible to issues in the history of methodology, and his book would not be out of place on the reading list of (an honors level) course on that subject. Although most of the essays have already been published elsewhere, they hang together well and Achinstein has provided goodinstructions to each part. I wish all collections were as thoughtful as this one." --Metascience