Scientific realism in action: Molecular models and Boltzmann's bildtheorie

Erkenntnis 63 (2):205 - 230 (2005)
Abstract
This paper approaches the scientific realism question from a naturalistic perspective. On the basis of a historical case study of the work of James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann on the kinetic theory of gases, it shows that scientists’ views about the epistemological status of theories and models typically interact with their scientific results. Subsequently, the implications of this result for the current realism debate are analysed. The case study supports Giere’s moderately realist view of scientific models and theories, based on the notion of similarity, and it highlights the crucial role of model users. The paper concludes with a discussion of Boltzmann’s Bildtheorie, the sophisticated form of realism that he developed in response to the scientific problems of kinetic theory.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Ethics   Logic   Ontology
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Reprint years 2006
DOI 10.1007/s10670-005-3226-7
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References found in this work BETA
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Science Without Laws.Ronald N. Giere - 1999 - University of Chicago Press.
The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory.Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem - 1954 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Models and Analogies in Science.Mary B. Hesse - 1963 - University of Notre Dame Press.

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Citations of this work BETA
Mathematical Formalisms in Scientific Practice: From Denotation to Model-Based Representation.Axel Gelfert - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):272-286.

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