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PSA 1974 pp 33-75 | Cite as

Theory Generalization Problem Reduction and the Unity of Science

  • Thomas Nickles
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 32)

Abstract

Although doubtlessly aimed at later developments in physics, Einstein’s famous remark, if interpreted so as to include classical statistical mechanics, nicely captures the spirit of work on the early quantum theory by men like Bohr and Ehrenfest, who, despite their conviction that the classical theories failed, nevertheless mined their riches to the fullest in the development of the new theory. In this paper I try to exhibit and characterize the patterns of reasoning involved in Ehrenfest’s attempts to generalize Planck’s early theory of the linear harmonic oscillator, and I then employ the same historical case as a basis for arguing that the reduction of problems to problems is an important phenomenon which cannot be fully understood in terms of the reduction of theories. Before turning to Ehrenfest, let me point out the central relevance of these issues to the problem of the unity of science.

Keywords

Theory Reduction Anharmonic Oscillator Problem Reduction Quantization Problem Adiabatic Invariant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Nickles
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Illinois at Champaign-UrbanaUSA

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