Classical physics and early quantum theory: A legitimate case of theoretical underdetermination

Synthese 110 (2):217-256 (1997)
In 1912, Henri Poincaré published an argument which apparently shows that the hypothesis of quanta is both necessary and sufficient for the truth of Planck''s experimentally corroborated law describing the spectral distribution of radiant energy in a black body. In a recent paper, John <span class='Hi'>Norton</span> has reaffirmed the authority of Poincarés argument, setting it up as a paradigm case in which empirical data can be used to definitively rule out theoretical competitors to a given theoretical hypothesis. My goal is to dispute <span class='Hi'>Norton</span>''s claim that there is no theoretical underdetermination problem arising between classical physics and early quantum theory. The strategy I use in defending my view is to adopt a suggestion made by Jarrett Leplin and Larry Laudan on how to assess the relative merits of competing theoretical alternatives, where each alternative has an equal capacity to save the phenomena. In the course of the paper, I distinguish between two branches of classical physics: classical mechanics and classical electromagnetism. The former is claimed by <span class='Hi'>Norton</span> and Poincaré to be determinately ruled out by the black body evidence; and it is the former that I argue is compatible with this evidence.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 13,009
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA
Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

62 ( #29,585 of 1,410,123 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

44 ( #2,931 of 1,410,123 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.