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New Water in Old Buckets: Hypothetical and Counterfactual Reasoning in Mach’s Economy of Science”

Patton, Lydia (2019) New Water in Old Buckets: Hypothetical and Counterfactual Reasoning in Mach’s Economy of Science”. Ernst Mach – Life, Work, Influence. ISSN 978-3-030-04377-3

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Abstract

Ernst Mach’s defense of relativist theories of motion in Die Mechanik involves a well-known criticism of Newton’s theory appealing to absolute space, and of Newton’s “bucket” experiment. Sympathetic readers (Norton 1995) and critics (Stein 1967, 1977) agree that there’s a tension in Mach’s view: he allows for some constructed scientific concepts, but not others, and some kinds of reasoning about unobserved phenomena, but not others. Following Banks (2003), I argue that this tension can be interpreted as a constructive one, springing from Mach’s approach to scientific reasoning. Mach’s “economy of science” allows for a principled distinction to be made, between natural and artificial hypothetical reasoning, and Mach defends a division of labor between the sciences in a 1903 paper for The Monist, “Space and Geometry from the Point of View of Physical Inquiry”. That division supports counterfactual reasoning in Mach’s system, something that’s long been denied is possible for him.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Patton, Lydiacritique@vt.edu0000-0003-2751-1196
Keywords: Mach, concepts, scientific progress, method, physics, Newton, Stein
Subjects: General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
General Issues > Theory Change
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Depositing User: Dr Lydia Patton
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2019 01:22
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2019 01:22
Item ID: 16450
Journal or Publication Title: Ernst Mach – Life, Work, Influence
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030043773
Subjects: General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
General Issues > Theory Change
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Date: 2019
ISSN: 978-3-030-04377-3
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16450

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