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Studies in the Methodology of Science

Igor Hanzel

The book discusses methodological issues relating to the philosophy of science and the natural and social sciences. It reconstructs the methods of measurement and scientific explanation, the relation of data, phenomena and mechanisms, the problem of theory-ladenness of explanation and the problem of historic explanation. From the sciences chosen for methodological analysis are those of early classical mechanics, early thermodynamics, Bohr’s theory of atom, early quantum mechanics, research into great apes and political economy.
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Chapter 2: Bohr’s Atom: Data, Phenomena, Laws of Phenomena, and Explanations via Mechanism

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This chapter has several aims. The first is to unify two directions in contemporary philosophy of science: a) the direction which draws on the seminal works of J. Bogen and J. Woodward to deal with the relation of data to phenomena and b) the direction which utilizes the article (Machamer and Darden and Craver 2000) to deal with the knowledge about mechanism and its employment in scientific thinking. This unification aims to delineate the main stages of the development and growth of scientific knowledge and shall draw on the results achieved in the framework of philosophy of science in the last 20 years or so, as well as on the reconstruction of the main stages of development of knowledge leading from A.-J. Ångström’s measurement of the wave-lengths of spectral lines of hydrogen in 1868 to N. Bohr’s theory of the hydrogen atom proposed in 1913. In doing so, I shall draw on two sources: the history of experiments, measurement, and theory formation on the basis of original scientific articles from the field of spectroscopy and the atom of hydrogen.

The second aim, located at a meta-philosophical level, is to show that the reconstruction of the development of scientific knowledge (which is characterized in contemporary philosophy of science as a movement from data, via phenomena, to mechanisms) in fact amounts to an assignment of philosophical categories (e.g., data, phenomena, mechanism, etc.) to the respective stages of this development. From this meta-philosophical point of view it will...

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