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

Fletcher, Samuel C. (2011) 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 also 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
      Additional Information: Forthcoming in European Journal for Philosophy of Science.
      Keywords: determinism, classical mechanics, Newtonian mechanics, pragmatism, pluralism
      Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
      General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
      General Issues > Models and Idealization
      General Issues > Structure of Theories
      Depositing User: Samuel C. Fletcher
      Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2011 09:49
      Last Modified: 08 Oct 2011 09:49
      Item ID: 8833
      URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/8833

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