Poincaré and Duhem: Resonances in their First Epistemological Reflections

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Abstract

The object of this article is to show a certain proximity of Duhem to Poincaré in his first philosophicalreflections. I study the relationships between the scientific practices of the two scholars, the contemporarytheoretical context and their reflections. The first part of the article concerns the changes in epistemological consensus at the turn of the century. The second part will be devoted to Poincaré's reflections on the status of physical geometries and physical theories, as they appear in his texts written around 1890. Then I analyzethe first reflections of Pierre Duhem on physical theory, in particular his thesis of the hypothetical/symboliccharacter of physical theories and his criteria for selecting good theories, partly associated with his ideal ofphysical theory; the whole set of considerations, highlighting the Poincarean inspiration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-156
Number of pages17
JournalTransversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Keywords

  • Poincaré
  • Duhem
  • epistemology of physics
  • instrumentalism

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