Get Unifying Scientific Theories: Physical Concepts and PDF

By Margaret Morrison

ISBN-10: 0511527330

ISBN-13: 9780511527333

ISBN-10: 0521037603

ISBN-13: 9780521037600

ISBN-10: 0521652162

ISBN-13: 9780521652162

This ebook is set the tools used for unifying assorted medical theories below one all-embracing concept. the method has characterised a lot of the background of technological know-how and is favourite in modern physics; the quest for a "theory of every thing" comprises an analogous try at unification. Margaret Morrison argues that, opposite to well known philosophical perspectives, unification and rationalization frequently have little to do with one another. The mechanisms that facilitate unification aren't those who let us to give an explanation for how or why phenomena behave as they do. The publication emphasizes the significance of mathematical buildings in unification, and claims that regardless of this universal characteristic thought unification is a multi-faceted method for which no normal account could be provided.

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Example text

The Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations will tell us something about the evolution of the system - they will allow us to characterize stable states as those for which potential energy is at a minimum - but will tell us nothing about the specific mechanisms involved in the processes that interest us. One might want to object that Newtonian mechanics explains a startling amount about the motions of falling bodies, the tides and planetary motions by showing how each is an instance of the law of universal gravitation.

That, in turn, makes it difficult to envision how different and sometimes incompatible aspects of theoretical structure are to be accounted for. Friedman claims that his approach accounts well for the way theories get confirmed over time, but the historical record shows that as the kinetic theory evolved, the molecular models underwent drastic 38 Unifying Scientific Theories changes, with the behaviour of gases often being explained by a variety of different and seemingly incompatible models of the phenomena.

By replacing one phenomenon or law with a more comprehensive one, we increase our understanding by decreasing the number of independently acceptable consequences. Friedman's strategy for giving a precise meaning to this notion of reduction of independent phenomena was shown to be technically flawed by Philip Kitcher (1976). However, in addition to the technical difficulties, some of Friedman's more intuitive claims regarding the connection between unification and explanation are by no means unproblematic.

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Unifying Scientific Theories: Physical Concepts and Mathematical Structures by Margaret Morrison

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