By Theodore Arabatzis
Either a background and a metahistory, Representing Electrons makes a speciality of the improvement of varied theoretical representations of electrons from the overdue Nineties to 1925 and the methodological difficulties linked to writing approximately unobservable clinical entities.Using the electron—or relatively its representation—as a historic actor, Theodore Arabatzis illustrates the emergence and sluggish consolidation of its illustration in physics, its profession all through outdated quantum conception, and its appropriation and reinterpretation by way of chemists. As Arabatzis develops this novel biographical process, he portrays clinical representations as in part self sufficient brokers with lives of their very own. in addition, he argues that the massive variance within the illustration of the electron doesn't undermine its good identification or existence.Raising philosophical problems with contentious debate within the heritage and philosophy of science—namely, medical realism and which means change—Arabatzis addresses the heritage of the electron throughout disciplines, integrating historic narrative with philosophical research in a ebook that would be a touchstone for historians and philosophers of technological know-how and scientists alike.
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Additional info for Representing Electrons: A Biographical Approach to Theoretical Entities
First, one might favor an antirealist perspective, that is, maintain that one has to be at least agnostic with respect to the existence of unobservable entities. From such a point of view discoveries of unobservables never take place. " 62 According to this stance, "discovery" has nothing to do with truth. Rather, it is a process of constructing empirically adequate models. The unobservable entity is a convenient fiction. To put it in terms of the discovery-justification distinction, existence claims concerning the unobservable can never be sufficiently justified.
Popper's remark: "As with our children, so with our theories, and ultimately with all the work we do: our products become largely in· dependent of their makers. " K. R. : Open Court, 1976), p. 196. 2. As I pointed out in the introduction, "agent" and "agency" need not be associated with intentional action. 36 Biographies of Theoretical Entities I 37 entities resist all attempts at theoretical manipulation, for example, attempts to enrich them in order to account for novel phenomena, whose (usually unintended) consequence is the negation of some of those properties and the violation of some of those laws.
In determining the outcome of the episode under scrutiny. Its main asset as a historiographical tool is that it aids the historian in meeting that challenge in an explicit and systematic way. For historiographical purposes, I will restrict the notion of a "problem" to known constraints, since, otherwise, problems obtain a Popperian "third world" quality that detracts from their utility for historical explanation. To put it another way, only constraints that are recognized by the historical actors themselves can be incorporated in a historical narrative, since only if they are known can they guide the problem-solving process.
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