Topic: Scientific realism in 19th and early 20th century physics--especially in theories of heat, light, and matter. This course is a detailed investigation of the status of scientific realism in the history of physics. The central question is: should we believe in the entities and substances that physics purports to describe? We will focus on case studies concerning 19th century theories of heat, light and matter, paying special attention to the status of atoms and ether. We will read both contemporary and historically situated perspectives on the issue of realism in these examples.
Prerequisite: either HSTCMP 311, HSTCMP 312, HSTCMP 313, HSTCMP 314, HSTCMP 315, HSTCMP 317, HSTCMP 318, or HSTCMP 412; either PHIL 350, PHIL 360, PHIL 450, PHIL 460, PHIL 464, PHIL 466, PHIL 473, PHIL 481, PHIL 482, or PHIL 483. Joint with PHIL 401B.
TEXT: No Textbook Required – course materials will be available on Canvas.