The Scientist's Atom and the Philosopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy Failed to Gain Knowledge of Atoms / Edition 1by Alan Chalmers
Pub. Date: 12/10/2010
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
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.
- Springer Netherlands
- Publication date:
- Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science Series, #279
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.24(d)
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Atomism: Science or philosophy?
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?
3.2 Physical atoms in the void
3.3 Atoms and indivisible magnitudes
3.4 Atomic speeds and observable speeds
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
5.2 Natural minima
5.3 Hardline vesus liberal interpretations of Aristotle
5.4 Aristotelianism and alchemy
5.5 Geber’s ‘atomism’
5.6 The statis 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
7.2 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
8.2 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
9.2 Dalton’s atomism
9.3 Dalton’s atomic chemistry
9.4 The introduction of chemical formulae by Berzelius
9.5 The binary theory of Berzelius
9.6 Chemical formulae and the rise of organic chemistry
9.7 Chemical formulae a victory for atomism?
9.8 Dalton’s resistance to chemical formulae
9.9 Is my critique of nineteenth-century atomism positivist?
Chapter 10. From Avogadro to Cannizzaro: The Old Story.
10.2 Avogadro’s hypothesis according to Avogadro.
10.3 Ampère’s version of Avogadro’s hypothesis and geometrical atomism.
10.4 Vapour densities and specific heats as a path to atomic weights.
10.5 Cannizzaro reappraised.
10.6 Was the determination of atomic weights important?
Chapter 11. Thermodynamics and the kinetic theory
11.2 The rise of thermodynamics
11.3 Thermal dissociation and affinities
11.4 Early versions of the kinetic theory
11.5 The statistical kinetic theory
11.6 Problems with the kinetic theory
11.7 The status of the kinetic theory in 1900
Chapter 12. Experimental contact with molecules
12.2 Brownian motion
12.3 The density distribution of Brownian particles
12.4 Experimental details
12.5 Support for the kinetic theory
12.6 The mean displacement and mean rotation of Brownian particles
12.7 The kinetic theory confirmed? – a nuanced discussion Chapter 13. Experimental contact with electrons
13.2 Historical background to the experiments of 1896/7
13.3 Discovery of the Zeeman effect
13.4 Thomson’s experiments on cathode rays
13.5 The significance of the experiments on charged particles Chapter 14. Atomism Vindicated?
14.2 Did philosophical atomism play a productive heuristic role?
14.3 Twentieth-century atomism a victory for scientific realism?
14.4 In my end is my beginning
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