PhilSci Archive

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]

WarningThere is a more recent version of this item available.
PDF - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (385Kb) | Preview


    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.

    Export/Citation:EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
    Social Networking:

    Item Type: Preprint
    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 07:05
    Last Modified: 08 Oct 2011 09:49
    Item ID: 8412

    Available Versions of this Item

    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads