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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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    Abstract

    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
    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
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/8412

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