Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress

Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress

Paperback Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Science

By (author) Hasok Chang

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 239mm x 20mm | 363g
  • Publication date: 7 February 2008
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195337387
  • ISBN 13: 9780195337389
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: Black and white throughout.
  • Sales rank: 408,421

Product description

What is temperature, and how can we measure it correctly? These may seem like simple questions, but the most renowned scientists struggled with them throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In Inventing Temperature, Chang examines how scientists first created thermometers; how they measured temperature beyond the reach of standard thermometers; and how they managed to assess the reliability and accuracy of these instruments without a circular reliance on the instruments themselves. In a discussion that brings together the history of science with the philosophy of science, Chang presents the simple yet challenging epistemic and technical questions about these instruments, and the complex web of abstract philosophical issues surrounding them. Chang's book shows that many items of knowledge that we take for granted now are in fact spectacular achievements, obtained only after a great deal of innovative thinking, painstaking experiments, bold conjectures, and controversy. Lurking behind these achievements are some very important philosophical questions about how and when people accept the authority of science.

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Author information

Hasok Chang is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at University College London.

Review quote

the most important book on this subject since Bridgman's classic work of 1927... Chang's book should become mandatory reading for anyone who wants to pursue the problem of measurement further. Donald Gillies, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Table of contents

1. Keeping the Fixed Points Fixed ; 2. Spirit, Air, and Quicksilver ; 3. To Go Beyond ; 4. Theory, Measurement, and Absolute Temperature ; 5. Measurement, Justification, and Scientific Progress