Physical Theory

Physical Theory : Method and Interpretation

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In nine new essays, distinguished philosophers of science take on outstanding philosophical issues that arise in the exploration of the foundations of contemporary, especially physical scientific theories. In the first part of the book issues of scientific method are explored. What are we asking when we pose scientific "why?" questions? How does probability play a role in answering such questions? What are scientific laws of nature? How can we understand what abstract theories are telling us about the world? What is the structure of the theories we use to explain the observable phenomena? Finally, how do theories evolve over time and what consequence do such changes have for our intuition that science is seeking the truth? In the second part of the volume, foundational issues are explored in a number of crucial physical theories. What do our best available theories tell us about space and time? When we apply quantum theory to fields or other systems with infinite degrees of freedom, what new foundational puzzles appear and how might a theory of interpretation deal with them? Finally, what are the crucial foundational issues in statistical mechanics, where probabilities are applied to explain macroscopic thermal phenomena?show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 142.24 x 215.9 x 22.86mm | 249.47g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 15 illus.
  • 019514564X
  • 9780195145649
  • 1,495,715

Review quote

The breadth of topics covered and the numerous insights on offer make it a volume that a wide variety of philosophers of science would certainly benefit from reading and using in their teaching * Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews Online * The essays are uniformly well written and edited but employ tools that require some technical sophistication and motivation on the part of readers ... Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers/faculty. * Choice *show more

About Lawrence Sklar

Lawrence Sklar was educated at Oberlin and Princeton and has had a lengthy career at Swarthmore, Princeton and the University of Michigan with his work focused on the philosophy of physics (theories of space and time, statistical mechanics, foundations of dynamics) and the methodology of physical science and has published widely in those areas. He has been awarded a number of prizes for distinction of his work, has served as president of philosophical academic associations and has given the Locke Lectures at Oxford and been a visiting fellow of All Souls College more

Table of contents

Introduction ; I. Scientific Method ; 1. Scientific Explanation - James Woodward ; 2. Probabilistic Explanation - Michael Strevens ; 3. The Nature of Laws - Marc Lange ; 4. Reading Nature: The Interpretation of Scientific Theories - Kyle Stanford ; 5. Structure of Theories - Kerry McKenzie and Simon Saunders ; 6. Evolution and Revolution in Science - Jarrett Leplin ; II. Foundations of Physics ; 7. What Can We Learn About the Ontology of Space and Time From the Theory of Relativity - John D. Norton ; 8. QM - Laura Ruetsche ; 9. Statistical Mechanics in Physical Theory - Lawrence Sklar ; Indexshow more