David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 39 (1):51-68 (1972)
This paper discusses the controversy between philosophers of science (e.g. Grünbaum) and historians of science (e.g. Holton) regarding Einstein's discovery of STR. Although Holton is surely correct on the historical point that experimental results (especially the Michelson-Morley experiment) had little influence on Einstein's development of STR, this fact is not sufficient to establish his (and Polanyi's) claim that major scientific discoveries are primarily matters of private, nonspecifiable insights into physical reality. It is possible that Einstein's work was based primarily on non-empirical but nonetheless publicly discussable, objective considerations. And a more comprehensive survey of the discovery of STR shows that this was indeed the case and thus excludes STR as a supporting instance of Holton's and Polanyi's assertions of the primacy of "private science."
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