Download Is Water H2O?: Evidence, Realism and Pluralism by Hasok Chang PDF

By Hasok Chang

This e-book shows deep philosophical quandaries and intricacies of the ancient improvement of technological know-how mendacity in the back of an easy and basic merchandise of logic in smooth technological know-how, particularly the composition of water as H2O. 3 major stages of improvement are seriously re-examined, protecting the old interval from the 1760s to the 1860s: the Chemical Revolution (through which water first grew to become famous as a compound, now not an element), early electrochemistry (by which water’s compound nature was once confirmed), and early atomic chemistry (in which water began as HO and have become H2O). In each one case, the writer concludes that the empirical facts on hand on the time was once now not decisive in settling the relevant debates and as a result the consensus that used to be reached used to be unjustified or not less than untimely. This ends up in an important re-assessment of the realism query within the philosophy of technological know-how and a different new advocacy for pluralism in technology. each one bankruptcy includes 3 layers, permitting readers to stick to a number of elements of the e-book at their selected point of intensity and element. the second one significant learn in "complementary science", this publication bargains a unprecedented blend of philosophy, heritage and technology in a bid to enhance medical wisdom via historical past and philosophy of science.

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I will begin, in Sect. 1, with a systematic appraisal of the evidential situation in the choice between oxygen and phlogiston. The verdict of that appraisal will be along the lines already indicated in Sect. 1: there were no conclusive reasons of evidence to reject the phlogiston theory in favor of Lavoisier’s theory. This raises a question of historical explanation: why, then, did chemists make that unjustified choice? 2 will argue that chemists at the time did not actually reach a simple, rapid and universal agreement in favor of Lavoisier.

The second sense, the “disciplinary matrix”, is akin to my concept, but for two main reasons I do not find it helpful. First, I think we need a concept that is more definite and orderly than the Kuhnian disciplinary matrix, which incorporates all kinds of elements ranging from fundamental metaphysical principles to institutional structures, with no definite indication of how the whole thing holds together. Hacking’s (1992, 44–50) characterization of laboratory practice also has a similar difficulty, specifying 15 different kinds of elements that enter into experimental practice without elaborating how they combine and interact with each other.

After dismissing these explanations, Musgrave proposes that the crucial factor was that the oxygen research programme was more progressive, with “progress” as defined in Imre Lakatos’s philosophy. Musgrave argues that it was rational for chemists to abandon the phlogiston theory because after a certain point it stopped making successful new predictions; it only continued to make ad hoc hypotheses—excuses made up in order to protect a failing theory. Unfortunately, I do not think this Lakatosian explanation works, as I will explain in more detail in Sect.

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