I cannot help thinking, said the
Marchioness, that this proportion in the squares of the
Distances of Places, or rather of Times, is
observed even in Love. Thus after 8 Days
Absence Love becomes 54 times less that it
was the first Day and according to
Proportion it must soon be entirely
obliterated; I fancy there will be found, especially
in the present Age very few Experiences to
From Francesco Algarotti’s Isaac Newton’s Philosophy Explained for the
Use of the
Newton’s Principia 1686
“No! No! said the Marchioness,
Gallantry must never destroy a
theorem. It geometry was
permitted to get some footing here in little Time it would produce Wonders” 2.
greatest scientist – complex
expectations of the Newtonian approach
Newton hoped that:
“we could derive the rest of
the phenomena of Nature by the same kind of reasoning from these mechanical
aim – certain knowledge of causes
If it universally appears, by experiments and astronomical
observations, that all bodies about the earth gravitate towards the earth, and
that in proportion to the quantity of matter which they severally contain; that
the moon likewise, according to the quantity of its matter, gravitates towards
the earth; that, on the other hand, our sea gravitates towards the moon; and
all the planets one towards another; and the comets in like manner towards the
sun; we must, in consequence of this rule, universally allow that all bodies
whatsoever are endowed with a principle of mutual gravitation.
In experimental philosophy we are to look upon
propositions inferred by general induction from phenomena as accurately or very
nearly true, notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses that may be imagined, till
such time as other phenomena occur, by which they may either be made more
accurate, or liable to exceptions.
Hypotheses ş speculations
To be avoided! 4.
Hume’s Treatise 1739
Hume hoped to emulate Newton in producing a science of man (thinking,
atoms - impressions
laws - laws of association
Science of nature; science of man
discovery of substantial truths
which would give explanations and predictions
because true, theories are permanent
Why such faith ?
Particularly as the results were not yet in !
Real question for us
(steady state; big bang; hot and cold; singularity; inflationary; Hawking)
bewilderingly rapid change
Hawking - final theory - know mind of god
What justfied Newton’s faith ?
right in one sense
200 years no serious
paradigm of a good
fertility - lots of applications
flexible - copes with anomalies
but the choice was made in advance of evidence
This couldn’t be Newton’s reason
scriptures - God gives truth to pious men
alchemy - Renaissance Magi
not just scientific
model of science
Building Block model
“no revolutions in
History of the Inductive Sciences 1857
Who knocked over the blocks?
Einstein - Special Theory of Relativity
simultaneity becomes relative to a frame
not a refinement of Newton
radically different picture
preserved observational success
preserved method of doing science
progress through revolution
“The history of science like the history of all human ideas is a
history of irresponsible dreams, of obstinacy, of error. But science is one of the very few human
activities - perhaps the only one - in which errors are systematically
criticized and fairly often in time correct.
In other fields there is change but rarely progress. The history of
science like the history of all human ideas is a history of irresponsible
dreams, of obstinacy, of error. But
science is one of the very few human activities - perhaps the only one - in
which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often in time correct.”
Progress ? Through revolution ?
Progress in question
Science is special
Ben Johnson story
Theories may come and
If science is special, what makes it so ? 12.
classical answer : scientific method
important to articulate
explaining the success
improve chances of
discoveries in science and discoveries about how to do science
Bacon’s Novum Organum 1620
WHY SO DIFFICULT ?
Feyerabend’s Against Method
free ourselves from
“the ideology of the one true science”
What is science?
Science: organized body of knowledge that has been accumulated on a
subject especially if conducted on scientific principles.
Scientific: of investigation - according to the rules laid down in
exact science for preforming observation and testing soundness of conclusions
touchingly other worldly
observation and principles or rules
Rational Model of Science
family of models
explain success of science
1. Goal of science
science institution with goal
discovery of laws
goal of college
-Principles of comparison
part of scientific
3. Scientific community
follows outcome of the methods
contrast chemistry department (quantum chemistry )and Central Committee
of the Tory party (rejoining ERM)
(truth, verisimilitude, explanation, predictive
Whewell, Popper, positivists)
means to goal)
4. Fit with scientific
aether drift ® special theory
better on the evidence
motivates shift in
Young wave theory 1800’s
Feuer - climate was ripe in Zurich
Essential Reading in Logical
Positivism, edited O Hanfling. See
especially papers by Schlick.
K Popper Objective Knowledge. See especially Ch. 1 “Conjectural Knowledge:
My Solution to the Problem of Induction”.
Conjectures and Refutations.Ch
10 “Truth, Rationality and the Growth of Scientific Knowledge” 21.