Seminar on History and Philosophy of Science

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)
The Principle of Stability
Sam Fletcher, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Resident Fellow, Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science,

Abstract: How can inferences from idealized models to the phenomena they represent be justified when those models deliberately distort the phenomena? Pierre Duhem considered just this problem, arguing that inferences from mathematical models of phenomena to real physical applications must also be demonstrated to be approximately correct when the (idealized) assumptions of the model are only approximately true. Despite being little discussed among philosophers, both mathematicians and physicists contemporaneous with and subsequent to Duhem took up this challenge (if only sometimes implicitly), yielding a novel and rich mathematical theory of stability with epistemological consequences.

For more information, please contact Fran Tise by phone at 626-395-3609 or by email at ftise@caltech.edu.