The Theoretical Practices of Physics: Philosophical Essays

Paperback | April 11, 2012

byR. I. G. Hughes

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R.I.G Hughes offers an original approach to the philosophical understanding of physics: instead of examining theories, he examines the theoretical practices which physicists use. He starts with a critical study of the accounts that physicists give of their practices, and asks: Given that thesepractices are successful, what is the nature of their success? Eight of the nine essays are illustrated by case studies of particular episodes in the history of physics. In three essays these case studies are strictly historical; the others deal with physics since 1900. Three essays deal with standard topics in the philosophical literature (laws, explanation, and realism), but are here considered from the perspective that an examination of theoretical practice affords. The five essays at the centre of the book all deal with different aspects of modelling inphysics. Another examines the discourse of physics, in particular the languages in which physical narratives are told and experimental work is described. The final essay draws out the implications of the earlier essays for the thesis of scientific realism.

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R.I.G Hughes offers an original approach to the philosophical understanding of physics: instead of examining theories, he examines the theoretical practices which physicists use. He starts with a critical study of the accounts that physicists give of their practices, and asks: Given that thesepractices are successful, what is the natur...

R. I. G. Hughes is Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:290 pagesPublished:April 11, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199654360

ISBN - 13:9780199654369

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Table of Contents

Foreword1. Criticism, Logical Empiricism, and the General Theory of Relativity2. Theoretical Practice: The Bohm-Pines Quartet3. Laws of Physics, the Representational Account of Theories, and Newton's Principia4. Modelling, the Brownian Motion and the Disunities of Physics5. Models and Representation6. The Ising Model, Computer Simulation, and Universal Physics7. Theoretical Explanation8. The Discourse of PhysicsBibliography

Editorial Reviews

Review from previous edition: "Hughes has an unparalleled ability to draw meaningful connections between important issues in the philosophy of physics and more general issues in the arts and sciences at large ... The ensuing diversity of aims, approaches, and detailed case studies is the moststriking hallmark of the book, making it a very unusual and charismatic contribution to contemporary philosophy of physics ... a highly original, beautifully creative book ... It breaks new ground in philosophy of physics and deserves to be read by everyone with an interest in the field." --Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews