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Duhem on Maxwell: A Case-Study in the Interrelations of History of Science and Philosophy of Science

Roger Ariew and Peter Barker
PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association
Vol. 1986, Volume One: Contributed Papers (1986), pp. 145-156
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/193116
Page Count: 12
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Duhem on Maxwell: A Case-Study in the Interrelations of History of Science and Philosophy of Science
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Abstract

We examine Duhem's critique of Maxwell, especially Duhem's complaints that Maxwell's theory is too bold or not systematic enough, that it is too dependent on models, and that its concepts are not continuous with those of the past. We argue that these complaints are connected by Duhem's historical criterion for the evaluation of physical theories. We briefly compare Duhem's criterion of historical continuity with similar criteria developed by "historicists" like Kuhn and Lakatos. We argue that Duhem's rejection of theoretical pluralism was a primary factor preventing him from recognizing Maxwell's work as an autonomous tradition.

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