Physical Theory: Method and Interpretation

ISBN : 9780195145649

Lawrence Sklar
304 Pages
150 x 217 mm
Pub date
Nov 2014
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In nine new essays, distinguished philosophers of science take on outstanding philosophical issues that arise in the exploration of the foundations of contemporary, especially physical scientific theories. In the first part of the book issues of scientific method are explored. What are we asking when we pose scientific "why?" questions? How does probability play a role in answering such questions? What are scientific laws of nature? How can we understand what abstract theories are telling us about the world? What is the structure of the theories we use to explain the observable phenomena? Finally, how do theories evolve over time and what consequence do such changes have for our intuition that science is seeking the truth? In the second part of the volume, foundational issues are explored in a number of crucial physical theories. What do our best available theories tell us about space and time? When we apply quantum theory to fields or other systems with infinite degrees of freedom, what new foundational puzzles appear and how might a theory of interpretation deal with them? Finally, what are the crucial foundational issues in statistical mechanics, where probabilities are applied to explain macroscopic thermal phenomena?


I. Scientific Method
1. Scientific Explanation - James Woodward
2. Probabilistic Explanation - Michael Strevens
3. The Nature of Laws - Marc Lange
4. Reading Nature: The Interpretation of Scientific Theories - Kyle Stanford
5. Structure of Theories - Kerry McKenzie and Simon Saunders
6. Evolution and Revolution in Science - Jarrett Leplin
II. Foundations of Physics
7. What Can We Learn About the Ontology of Space and Time From the Theory of Relativity - John D. Norton
8. QM - Laura Ruetsche
9. Statistical Mechanics in Physical Theory - Lawrence Sklar

About the author: 

Lawrence Sklar was educated at Oberlin and Princeton and has had a lengthy career at Swarthmore, Princeton and the University of Michigan with his work focused on the philosophy of physics (theories of space and time, statistical mechanics, foundations of dynamics) and the methodology of physical science and has published widely in those areas. He has been awarded a number of prizes for distinction of his work, has served as president of philosophical academic associations and has given the Locke Lectures at Oxford and been a visiting fellow of All Souls College there.

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