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

Norton, JD (1993) The determination of theory by evidence: The case for quantum discontinuity, 1900-1915. Synthese, 97 (1). 1 - 31. ISSN 0039-7857

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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. © 1993 Kluwer Academic Publishers.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Norton, JDjdnorton@pitt.eduJDNORTON
Centers: University Centers > Center for Philosophy of Science
Date: 1 October 1993
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Volume: 97
Number: 1
Page Range: 1 - 31
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/bf01255831
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0039-7857
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2012 22:03
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2019 15:56


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