Chapter

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

Jordi Cat

in Philosophy of Science Matters

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738625
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894642 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738625.003.0003
Maxwell, Matter, and Method: Maxwellian Methodology, Methodological Maxwellianism, and Methods of Historical and Philosophical Speculation

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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

Chapter.  6214 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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