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

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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DOI 10.2307/193116
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Wolfgang Pietsch (2012). Hidden Underdetermination: A Case Study in Classical Electrodynamics. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (2):125-151.

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