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What Counts as a Newtonian System? The View from Norton’s Dome

Fletcher, Samuel C. (2010) What Counts as a Newtonian System? The View from Norton’s Dome. [Preprint]

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If the force on a particle fails to satisfy a Lipschitz condition at a point, it relaxes one of the conditions necessary for a locally unique solution to the particle’s equation of motion. I examine the most discussed example of this failure of determinism in classical mechanics—that of Norton’s dome—and the range of current objections against it. Finding there are many different conceptions of classical mechanics appropriate and useful for different purposes, I argue that no single conception is preferred. Instead of arguing for or against determinism, I stress the wide variety of pragmatic considerations that, in a specific context, may lead one usefully and legitimately to adopt one conception over another in which determinism may or may not hold.

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Item Type: Preprint
Fletcher, Samuel
Keywords: determinism, classical mechanics, Newtonian mechanics
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: Samuel C. Fletcher
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2010 12:05
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2011 13:49
Item ID: 8412

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