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Newton’s Methodology and Mercury’s Perihelion Before and After Einstein

William Harper
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 74, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2006 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science AssociationPart I: Contributed PapersEdited by Cristina Bicchieri and Jason Alexander (December 2007), pp. 932-942
DOI: 10.1086/525634
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/525634
Page Count: 11
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Newton’s Methodology and Mercury’s Perihelion Before and After Einstein
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Abstract

Newton’s methodology is significantly richer than the hypothetico‐deductive model. It is informed by a richer ideal of empirical success that requires not just accurate prediction but also accurate measurement of parameters by the predicted phenomena. It accepts theory‐mediated measurements and theoretical propositions as guides to research. All of these enrichments are exemplified in the classical response to Mercury’s perihelion problem. Contrary to Kuhn, Newton’s method endorses the radical transition from his theory to Einstein’s. The richer themes of Newton’s method are strikingly realized in a challenge to general relativity from a new problem posed by Mercury’s perihelion.

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