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Physics and Philosophy Meet: the Strange Case of Poincaré

Stein, Howard (2014) Physics and Philosophy Meet: the Strange Case of Poincaré. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Poincaré is a pre-eminent figure: as one of the greatest of mathematicians; as a contributor of prime importance to the development of physical theory at a time when physics was undergoing a profound transformation; and as a philosopher. However, I think that Poincaré, with all this virtue, made a serious philosophical mistake. In Poincaré’s own work, this error seems to me to have kept him from several fundamental discoveries in physics. The hypothesis that Poincaré would have made these discoveries if he had not been misled by a philosophical error is not one that lends itself to conclusive assessment; but what I wish to do is to lay out the main circumstances of the case so as to make clear, at least, that the issue of philosophic principle involved, and the questions of fundamental physics under discussion, are of considerable mutual relevance.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Stein, Howard
Additional Information: Unpublished work posted with the permission of the author.
Keywords: Poincare, electron theory
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics
Depositing User: Admin Bryan R
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2014 08:28
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2014 08:28
Item ID: 10634
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics
Date: 2014
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10634

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