The Scientist's Atom and the Philosopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy Failed to Gain Knowledge of Atoms / Edition 1

The Scientist's Atom and the Philosopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy Failed to Gain Knowledge of Atoms / Edition 1

by Alan Chalmers
     
 

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ISBN-10: 9048123615

ISBN-13: 9789048123612

Pub. Date: 08/06/2009

Publisher: Springer Netherlands

Drawing on the results of his own scholarly research as well as that of others the author offers, for the first time, a comprehensive and documented history of theories of the atom from Democritus to the twentieth century. This is not history for its own sake. By critically reflecting on the various versions of atomic theories of the past the author is able to

Overview

Drawing on the results of his own scholarly research as well as that of others the author offers, for the first time, a comprehensive and documented history of theories of the atom from Democritus to the twentieth century. This is not history for its own sake. By critically reflecting on the various versions of atomic theories of the past the author is able to grapple with the question of what sets scientific knowledge apart from other kinds of knowledge, philosophical knowledge in particular. He thereby engages historically with issues concerning the nature and status of scientific knowledge that were dealt with in a more abstract way in his What Is This Thing Called Science?, a book that has been a standard text in philosophy of science for three decades and which is available in nineteen languages. Speculations about the fundamental structure of matter from Democritus to the seventeenth-century mechanical philosophers and beyond are construed as categorically distinct from atomic theories amenable to experimental investigation and support and as contributing little to the latter from a historical point of view. The thesis will provoke historians and philosophers of science alike and will require a revision of a range of standard views in the history of science and philosophy. The book is key reading for students and scholars in History and Philosophy of Science and will be instructive for and provide a challenge to philosophers, historians and scientists more generally.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9789048123612
Publisher:
Springer Netherlands
Publication date:
08/06/2009
Series:
Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science Series, #279
Edition description:
2009
Pages:
287
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Atomism: Science or philosophy?
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Science and philosophy transcend the evidence for them
1.3 How the claims of science are confirmed
1.4 Inference to the best explanation
1.5 Science involves experimental activity and conceptual innovation
1.6 Reading the past in the light of the present
1.7 Writing history of science backwards
1.8 The structure of the book
1.9 A note on terminology
Chapter 2. Democritean atomism
2.1 Philosophy as the refinement of common sense by reason
2.2 Parmenides and the denial of change
2.3 The atomism of Leucippus and Democritus: The basics
2.4 Atomic explanations of properties
2.5 Atomic explanations of specific phenomena
2.6 Atomism as a response to Zeno’s paradoxes
2.7 Aristotle’s critique of indivisible magnitudes
2.8 Did Democritus propose indivisible magnitudes as a response to Zeno?
2.9 Democritean atomism: an appraisal
Chapter 3. How did Epicurus’s garden grow?
3.1 Epicureanism
3.2 Physical atoms in the void
3.3 Atoms and indivisible magnitudes
3.4 Atomic speeds and observable speeds
3.5 Gravity
3.6 Explaining the phenomena by appeal only to atoms and the void
3.7 The status and role of the evidence of the senses
3.8 Knowledge of atoms: Getting closer?
Chapter 4. Atomism in its Ancient Greek perspective
4.1 Philosophical atomism versus less ambitious projects
4.2 The Aristotelian alternative
4.3 Hints of a granular structure of matter in Aristotle
4.4 Granular versus ultimate structures
4.5 Greek ‘science’
Chapter 5. From the Ancient Greeks to the dawn of science
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Natural minima
5.3 Hardline vesus liberal interpretations of Aristotle
5.4 Aristotelianism and alchemy
5.5 Geber’s ‘atomism’
5.6 Thestatis and fate of Geber’s integration of Aristotle and alchemy
5.7 Currents of thought leading to Sennert’s atomism
5.8 Sennert’s atomic theory
5.9 The status of Sennert’s atomism
Chapter 6. Atomism, experiment and the mechanical philosophy: The work of Robert Boyle
6.1 What was scientific about the scientific revolution?
6.2 Boyle’s version of the mechanical philosophy
6.3 Boyle’s case for the mechanical philosophy
6.4 Boyle’s use of the microscopic/microscopic analogy
6.5 Boyle’s experimental science as distinct from the mechanical philosophy
6.6 Empirical support for the mechanical philosophy
6.7 The lack of fertility of the mechanical philosophy
6.8 The various senses of ‘mechanical’
6.9 Boyle’s mechanical philosophy and experimental support for atoms
Chapter 7. Newton’s atomism and its fate
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Newton’s science
7.3 Newton’s atomism
7.4 The case for Newton’s atomism
7.5 The fate of Newtonian atomism in the eighteenth century
Chapter 8. The emergence of modern chemistry with no debt to atomism
8.1 Introduction.
8.2 Klein on Geoffroy and the concepts of chemical substance, compound and combination
8.3 Reflections on Klein’s account of chemical combination
8.4 Boyle’s chemistry: Some preliminaries
8.5 Boyle’s mechanical rather than chemical construal of substances
8.6 Boyle on the properties of chemical corpuscles
8.7 Chemical properties and essential properties
8.8 The mechanical philosophy versus the experimental philosophy
8.9 Newtonian affinities
8.10 Chemistry from Newton to Lavoisier
Chapter 9. Dalton’s atomism and its creative modification via formulae
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Dalton’s atomism
9.3 Dalton’s atomic chemistry
9.4 The introduction of chemical

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