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Philosophy of Science MattersThe Philosophy of Peter Achinstein$
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Gregory J. Morgan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738625

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738625.001.0001

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Maxwell, Matter, and Method: Maxwellian Methodology, Methodological Maxwellianism, and Methods of Historical and Philosophical Speculation

Maxwell, Matter, and Method: Maxwellian Methodology, Methodological Maxwellianism, and Methods of Historical and Philosophical Speculation

Chapter:
(p.29) 3 Maxwell, Matter, and Method: Maxwellian Methodology, Methodological Maxwellianism, and Methods of Historical and Philosophical Speculation
Source:
Philosophy of Science Matters
Author(s):

Jordi Cat

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738625.003.0003

This chapter examines Achinstein's historical and philosophical speculations about Maxwell's natural philosophy, and their role as evidence for Achinstein's more general philosophical speculations. Achinstein seeks the authority of Maxwell, as theoretical physicist; as author of a kinetic theory of gases and the theory of electromagnetism committed to the existence of molecules; as contributor of theoretical derivations valued regardless of their meta-theoretical or philosophical experimental significance; as author of methodological models; and as proponent and practitioner of a “method of physical speculation.” As a meta-methodological expression of Maxwell's method of physical speculation, one may call Achinstein's methodological move a method of philosophical speculation.

Keywords:   Maxwell, realism, history of science, method of speculation, scientific method, philosophical method, generality, understanding, explanation

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