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Stabilization of phenomenon and meaning: On the London & London episode as a historical case in philosophy of science

Potters, Jan (2019) Stabilization of phenomenon and meaning: On the London & London episode as a historical case in philosophy of science. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 9. ISSN 1879-4912

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Abstract

In recent years, the use of historical cases in philosophy of science has become a proper topic of reflection. In this article I will contribute to this research by means of a discussion of one very famous example of case-based philosophy of science, namely the debate on the London & London model of superconductivity between Cartwright, Suárez and Shomar on the one hand, and French, Ladyman, Bueno and Da Costa on the other. This debate has been going on for years, without any satisfactory resolution. I will argue here that this is because both sides impose on the historical case a particular philosophical conception of scientific representation that does not do justice to the historical facts. Both sides assume, more specifically, that the case concerns the discovery of a representational connection between a given experimental insight – the Meissner effect – and the diamagnetic meaning of London and London’s new equations of superconductivity. I will show, however, that at the time of the Londons’ publication, neither the experimental insight nor the meaning of the new equations was established: both were open for discussion and they were stabilized only later. On the basis of this historical discussion, I will then propose an alternative approach to the case study: the case should not be seen as a site of confrontation between pre-existing philosophical accounts, but rather as a way to historically elaborate and develop philosophical concepts. I will then show how approaching the historical episode in this way suggests an alternative approach to the philosophical study of representation, according to which it involves the establishment, over time, of a stable connection between constellations of different elements that, through discussion and engagement with alternative views and approaches, come to constitute phenomenon and meaning.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Potters, JanJan.Potters@UAntwerpen.be0000-0002-5292-5369
Keywords: Scientific Representation; London & London Model; Models and Theories; History and Philosophy of Science
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
Depositing User: Dr. Jan Potters
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2020 01:41
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2020 01:41
Item ID: 16914
Journal or Publication Title: European Journal for Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13194...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13194-019-0247-7
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
Date: 22 January 2019
Volume: 9
ISSN: 1879-4912
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16914

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