David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (1):81 – 91 (2006)
Prandtl's work on the boundary layer theory is an interesting example for illustrating several important issues in philosophy of science such as the relation between theories and models and whether it is possible to distinguish, in a principled way, between pure and applied science. In what follows I discuss several proposals by the symposium participants regarding the interpretation of Prandtl's work and whether it should be characterized as an instance of applied science. My own interpretation of this example (1999) emphasised the degree of autonomy embedded in Prandtl's boundary layer model and the way it became integrated in the larger theoretical context of hydrodynamics. In addition to extending that discussion here I also claim that the characterization of applied science which formed the basis for the symposium does not enable us to successfully distinguish applied science from the general practice of 'applying' basic scientific knowledge in a variety of contexts.
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