The Dome: An Unexpectedly Simple Failure of Determinism

Philosophy of Science 75 (5):786-798 (2008)
Newton’s equations of motion tell us that a mass at rest at the apex of a dome with the shape specified here can spontaneously move. It has been suggested that this indeterminism should be discounted since it draws on an incomplete rendering of Newtonian physics, or it is “unphysical,” or it employs illicit idealizations. I analyze and reject each of these reasons. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; e‐mail:
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DOI 10.1086/594524
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Marij van Strien (2014). The Norton Dome and the Nineteenth Century Foundations of Determinism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (1):167-185.
Marij van Strien (2014). On the Origins and Foundations of Laplacian Determinism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 45 (1):24-31.
Boris Kožnjak (2015). Who Let the Demon Out? Laplace and Boscovich on Determinism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 51:42-52.
Jill North (2010). An Empirical Approach to Symmetry and Probability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (1):27-40.

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