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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 5: Measurement and Conceptual Networks in Early Thermodynamics

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The aim of this chapter is to provide a philosophical-cum-methodological analysis and reconstruction of the conceptual development in early thermodynamics spanning the period from the late 17th century to the mid-19th century.

I start with an analysis of the understanding of the terms fire/heat and temperature in the works of E. Halley, B. Taylor, J. T. Desagulier, E. Boerhaave, J. Black, J.-A. De Luc, J. C. Wilcke, Lavoisier and Laplace, and show how they approach the relations between the magnitudes expressed by these terms and how they deal with the issue of measurement of temperature and heat. Next, I reconstruct the bootstrapping nature of measurement of heat/fire based on the measurement of temperature and show how Joule and Thompson escape this bootstrapping by conceptually treating the production of heat itself.

Then, I provide a philosophical reconstruction of thermodynamics of this period by means of the category pairs cause-effect, reason-reasoned and mesurans-mesurandum. Finally, I shall test the efficiency of the employment of these category pairs with regard to thermodynamics by showing that in this way one can methodologically evaluate W. Thomson’s introduction of the concept of absolute temperature.

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