Pierre Duhem: Philosophy and History in the Work of a Believing Physicist

Voorkant
Open Court Publishing, 1991 - 274 pagina's
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More than any other major twentieth-century writer, Pierre Duhem has been the victim of ill-informed guesswork. For instance, many references to Duhem stress the importance of his Catholic faith, but nearly all of them draw the obvious-and entirely erroneous-conclusions about the role of Catholicism in Duhem's thinking.

This book pays particular attention to the political and intellectual context of French Catholicism, wracked as it was by the tensions of Dreyfus affair and the so-called modernist crisis. Duhem took his inspiration, not from the papally-sponsored revival of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, but from Pascal, a fact that aroused suspicions of skepticism in the minds of conservative Catholics. The tensions between Duhem's work and authoritarian Catholic positions became more explicit as his historical work unfolded. Most famous for his denial of the possibility of a crucial experiment which could unambiguously decide between contending scientific theories, Duhem has often been interpreted as a mere instrumentalist or conventionalist, denying the meaningfulness of a reality behind the theory. Dr. Martin shows that Duhem was a Pascalian who argued for both logic and intuition as indispensable in approaching the truth. Duhem argues that physics could not legitimately be used to attack Christianity, but he held that physics was equally useless for the defense of Christianity, a position which made him unpopular with many Catholics.

 

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Inhoudsopgave

The Ariadnes Thread
6
A Catholic in a Hostile World
15
The Positivist Challenge and Duhems Response
24
Defending Catholic Authority
35
The Revival of Scholasticism
41
The Annates de Philosophie Chretienne and Open
49
Inspiration from Pascal
59
Scepticism and Infinite Regress
68
Duhems Sources
151
The Historiographical Muddle
154
The False Start of the Etudes
158
Saving the Phenomena and the System of the World
163
The Argument of To Save the Phenomena
169
Heaven and Earth
172
Understanding Duhems Historical Revisionism
176
The Theme of the Systeme du Monde
180

The Appropriation of Pascal
79
The Apostle of Common Sense
88
Pascalian Orders and Duhemian Autonomy
94
The Shape of a Pascalian Methodology
101
A Dialectical Strategy for a Pascalian Argument
108
Intuition and Deductive Rigour in the Structure
115
History and the NonChoice of Hypotheses
123
History for the Purposes of Physics
130
The Aims and Norms of Historical Analysis
138
Illustration and Criticism in Duhems Historical Writing 240
140
Research Programmes Before Lakatos
144
The Discovery of Mediaeval Science
147
The Character of the Systeme
183
Understanding the Systeme
188
The Reception of Duhems Work
193
The Partial Reception of the Philosophy
199
Catholic Criticism of Duhem
203
Reception of the Historical Work
207
Conclusion
211
Notes
215
Bibliography of Works Cited
233
Index
255
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Over de auteur (1991)

Martin gained his doctorate from the University of London. He is an Open University tutor in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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