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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

Marc Lange
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February 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Miles MacLeod, Michiru Nagatsu
In this paper we take a close look at current interdisciplinary modeling practices in the environmental sciences, and suggest that closer attention needs to be paid to the nature of scientific practices when investigating and planning interdisciplinarity. While interdisciplinarity is often portrayed as a medium of novel and transformative methodological work, current modeling strategies in the environmental sciences are conservative, avoiding methodological conflict, while confining interdisciplinary interactions to a relatively small set of pre-existing modeling frameworks and strategies (a process we call crystallization)...
February 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Federico Raffo Quintana
In this paper we will try to explain how Leibniz justified the idea of an exact arithmetical quadrature. We will do this by comparing Leibniz's exposition with that of John Wallis. In short, we will show that the idea of exactitude in matters of quadratures relies on two fundamental requisites that, according to Leibniz, the infinite series have, namely, that of regularity and that of completeness. In the first part of this paper, we will go deeper into three main features of Leibniz's method, that is: it is an infinitesimal method, it looks for an arithmetical quadrature and it proposes a result that is not approximate, but exact...
February 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Samuel Schindler
What does it mean for a hypothesis to be ad hoc? One prominent account has it that ad hoc hypotheses have no independent empirical support. Others have viewed ad hoc judgements as stemming from a lack of unifiedness of the amended theory. Still others view them as merely subjective. Here I critically review these views and defend my own Coherentist Conception of Ad hocness by working out its conceptual and descriptive attractions.
February 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Daniel G Campos
This article investigates the way in which Jacob Bernoulli proved the main mathematical theorem that undergirds his art of conjecturing-the theorem that founded, historically, the field of mathematical probability. It aims to contribute a perspective into the question of problem-solving methods in mathematics while also contributing to the comprehension of the historical development of mathematical probability. It argues that Bernoulli proved his theorem by a process of mathematical experimentation in which the central heuristic strategy was analogy...
February 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Anubav Vasudevan
This paper situates the metaphysical antinomy between chance and determinism in the historical context of some of the earliest developments in the mathematical theory of probability. Since Hacking's seminal work on the subject, it has been a widely held view that the classical theorists of probability were guilty of an unwitting equivocation between a subjective, or epistemic, interpretation of probability, on the one hand, and an objective, or statistical, interpretation, on the other. While there is some truth to this account, I argue that the tension at the heart of the classical theory of probability is not best understood in terms of the duality between subjective and objective interpretations of probability...
February 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Gregory W Dawes, Tiddy Smith
The sciences are characterized by what is sometimes called a "methodological naturalism," which disregards talk of divine agency. In response to those who argue that this reflects a dogmatic materialism, a number of philosophers have offered a pragmatic defense. The naturalism of the sciences, they argue, is provisional and defeasible: it is justified by the fact that unsuccessful theistic explanations have been superseded by successful natural ones. But this defense is inconsistent with the history of the sciences...
February 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Marina Baldissera Pacchetti
Bogen and Woodward's distinction between data and phenomena raises the need to understand the structure of the data-to-phenomena and theory-to-phenomena inferences. I suggest that one way to study the structure of these inferences is to analyze the role of the assumptions involved in the inferences: What kind of assumptions are they? How do these assumptions contribute to the practice of identifying phenomena? In this paper, using examples from atmospheric dynamics, I develop an account of the practice of identifying the target in the data-to-phenomena and theory-to-phenomena inferences in which assumptions about spatiotemporal scales play a central role in the identification of parameters that describe the target system...
February 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Thomas Rossetter
In this paper, I introduce a new historical case study into the scientific realism debate. During the late-eighteenth century, the Scottish natural philosopher James Hutton made two important successful novel predictions. The first concerned granitic veins intruding from granite masses into strata. The second concerned what geologists now term "angular unconformities": older sections of strata overlain by younger sections, the two resting at different angles, the former typically more inclined than the latter...
February 2018: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Alistair M C Isaac
Psychophysics measures the attributes of perceptual experience. The question of whether some of these attributes should be interpreted as more fundamental, or "real," than others has been answered differently throughout its history. The operationism of Stevens and Boring answers "no," reacting to the perceived vacuity of earlier debates about fundamentality. The subsequent rise of multidimensional scaling (MDS) implicitly answers "yes" in its insistence that psychophysical data be represented in spaces of low dimensionality...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Daniel Jon Mitchell
This re-examination of the earliest version of Maxwell's most important argument for the electromagnetic theory of light-the equality between the speed of wave propagation in the electromagnetic ether and the ratio of electrostatic to electromagnetic measures of electrical quantity-establishes unforeseen connections between Maxwell's theoretical electrical metrology and his mechanical theory of the electromagnetic field. Electrical metrology was not neutral with respect to field-theoretic versus action-at-a-distance conceptions of electro-magnetic interaction...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Terry Quinn
At the 26th General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) in November 2018, it is planned to adopt a new definition of the International System of Units, SI, based on the fixed numerical values of seven defining constants, broadly the fundamental constants of physics. This will be the culmination of more than two hundred years of metrology, instantiating for the first time the original ideas of the creators of the metric system. The key is the replacement of the present definition of the unit of mass, the kilogram artefact of platinum-iridium, by one based on a fixed numerical value of the Planck constant...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Isobel Falconer
In 1877 James Clerk Maxwell and his student Donald MacAlister refined Henry Cavendish's 1773 null experiment demonstrating the absence of electricity inside a charged conductor. This null result was a mathematical prediction of the inverse square law of electrostatics, and both Cavendish and Maxwell took the experiment as verifying the law. However, Maxwell had already expressed absolute conviction in the law, based on results of Michael Faraday's. So, what was the value to him of repeating Cavendish's experiment? After assessing whether the law was as secure as he claimed, this paper explores its central importance to the electrical programme that Maxwell was pursuing...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Leah McClimans, John Browne, Stefan Cano
In the last decade much has been made of the role that models play in the epistemology of measurement. Specifically, philosophers have been interested in the role of models in producing measurement outcomes. This discussion has proceeded largely within the context of the physical sciences, with notable exceptions considering measurement in economics. However, models also play a central role in the methods used to develop instruments that purport to quantify psychological phenomena. These methods fall under the umbrella term 'psychometrics'...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Alessandra Basso
This paper distinguishes between two arguments based on measurement robustness and defends the epistemic value of robustness for the assessment of measurement reliability. I argue that the appeal to measurement robustness in the assessment of measurement is based on a different inferential pattern and is not exposed to the same objections as the no-coincidence argument which is commonly associated with the use of robustness to corroborate individual results. This investigation sheds light on the precise meaning of reliability that emerges from measurement assessment practice...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Luca Mari, Paolo Carbone, Alessandro Giordani, Dario Petri
Measurement is widely applied because its results are assumed to be more reliable than opinions and guesses, but this reliability is sometimes justified in a stereotyped way. After a critical analysis of such stereotypes, a structural characterization of measurement is proposed, as partly empirical and partly theoretical process, by showing that it is in fact the structure of the process that guarantees the reliability of its results. On this basis the role and the structure of background knowledge in measurement and the justification of the conditions of object-relatedness ("objectivity") and subject-independence ("intersubjectivity") of measurement are specifically discussed...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Eran Tal
Calibration procedures establish a reliable relation between the final states ('indications') of a measurement process and features of the objects being measured ('outcomes'). This article analyzes the inferential structure of calibration procedures. I show that calibration is a modelling activity, namely the activity of constructing, deriving predictions from, and testing theoretical and statistical models of a measurement process. Measurement outcomes are parameter value ranges that maximize the predictive accuracy and mutual coherence of such models, among other desiderata...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Nadine de Courtenay, Fabien Grégis
The way metrologists conceive of measurement has undergone a major shift in the last two decades. This shift can in great part be traced to a change in the statistical methods used to deal with the expression of measurement results, and, more particularly, with the calculation of measurement uncertainties. Indeed, as we show, the incapacity of the frequentist approach to the calculus of uncertainty to deal with systematic errors has prompted the replacement of the customary frequentist methods by fully Bayesian procedures...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Klaus Ruthenberg, Hasok Chang
This paper provides an account of early historical developments in the characterization and quantification of acidity, which may be considered preliminary steps leading to the measurement of acidity. In this "pre-history" of acidity measurement, emphasis is laid on the relative independence of the rich empirical knowledge about acids from theories of acidity. Many attempts were made to compare and assess the strengths of various acids, based on concrete laboratory operations. However, at least until the arrival of the pH measure, the quantification attempts failed to produce anything qualifying as a measurement scale of a recognizable type...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Teru Miyake
This paper examines the history of two related problems concerning earthquakes, and the way in which a theoretical advance was involved in their resolution. The first problem is the development of a physical, as opposed to empirical, scale for measuring the size of earthquakes. The second problem is that of understanding what happens at the source of an earthquake. There was a controversy about what the proper model for the seismic source mechanism is, which was finally resolved through advances in the theory of elastic dislocations...
October 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
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