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Isaac Newton's Scientific MethodTurning Data into Evidence about Gravity and Cosmology$
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William L. Harper

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570409.001.0001

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Newton's Methodology and the Practice of Science

Newton's Methodology and the Practice of Science

Chapter:
(p.372) 10 Newton's Methodology and the Practice of Science
Source:
Isaac Newton's Scientific Method
Author(s):

William L. Harper

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570409.003.0010

Part I. Distinctive features of Newton’s method: Successively more accurate approximations and increasing empirical support from measurements. Part II. The Mercury perihelion problem: A proposal to alter the inverse-square law ruled out by a more precise measurement. Einstein’s theory accounts for the extra precession and recovers the successful measurements of Newton’s theory. An alternative to general relativity that would answer a new challenge from Mercury is ruled out by a more precise measurement. Part III. Newton does not require or endorse scientific progress as progress toward Laplace’s ideal limit of a final theory. Part IV. Newton’s conception of scientific progress through successively more accurate approximations is not undermined by the classic argument against convergent realism. Part V: Agreeing measurements from diverse phenomena play a decisive role of in transforming dark energy from a dubious hypothesis into part of the accepted background framework guiding empirical research in cosmology today.

Keywords:   support from measurements, Mercury’s perihelion, alter the inverse-square law, more precise measurement, Einstein’s theory, an alternative to general relativity, scientific progress, Laplace’s ideal theory, dark energy, cosmology today

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