Making Contact with Molecules: On Perrin and Achinstein

Stathis Psillos

in Philosophy of Science Matters

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738625
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894642 | DOI:
Making Contact with Molecules: On Perrin and Achinstein

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Peter Achinstein has offered one of the most systematic expositions and reconstructions of Perrin's argument for the reality of atoms, aiming (a) to show how his own theory of evidence best accounts for the significance of Perrin's results; and (b) how Perrin has offered a local and experimental argument for scientific realism. After some detailed presentation of Perrin's own argument, this chapter offers my own reconstruction of it and show why it is superior to Achinstein's. Finally, the chapter draws some lessons for scientific realism.

Keywords: Achinstein; Perrin; atomic hypothesis; Brownian movement; scientific realism; Bayesianism; confirmation

Chapter.  5848 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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