The determination of theory by evidence: The case for quantum discontinuity, 1900–1915

Synthese 97 (1):1 - 31 (1993)
The thesis that observation necessarily fails to determine theory is false in the sense that observation can provide overwhelming evidence for a particular theory or even a hypothesis within the theory. The saga of quantum discontinuity illustrates the power of evidence to determine theory and shows how that power can be underestimated by inadequate caricatures of the evidential case. That quantum discontinuity can save the phenomena of black body radiation is the widely known result, but it leaves open the possibilities of other accounts. That these phenomena, with the aid of minimal assumptions, entail quantum discontinuity is the crucial but now largely forgotten result. It was first demonstrated by Ehrenfest and Poincaré in 1911 and 1912.
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DOI 10.1007/BF01255831
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