Newton's methodology is richer than the hypothetico-deductive model of scientific inference that was the focus of many philosophers of science in the last century. These enrichments focus on theory-mediated measurements of theoretical parameters by phenomena. It is argued that this richer methodology of Newton's informs a pre-relativity response to the Mercury perihelion problem, endorses the transition from Newton's theory to Einstein's, and continues to inform the testing frameworks for relativistic gravity theories today. On this rich methodology of Newton's, science is very informative about the world, without any commitment to progress toward an ideal limit of a final theory of everything.

Newton's scientific methodology is much richer than the models of scientific inference that have been studied by philosophers of science. I will be explaining several salient features that make this richer methodology more informative about the world than, even, quite sophisticated Bayesian models of scientific inference of the sort Abner Shimony has developed in his classic papers [23, 24]. Abner, Wayne Myrvold and I have begun a program of joint research designed to enrich the Bayesian model with resources to accommodate Newton's richer methodology. This paper will characterize some features that I shall argue ought to be accommodated in order to do justice to Newton's methodology. The job of how to enrich the Bayesian framework to do justice to these features will left to be addressed in future work.1

Keywords

Vortex Mercury Contact Action Radar Peri 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Cajori, F. (trans.) (1962). Sir Isaac Newton's Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and his System of the World. Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wilson, C. A. (1989). “The Newtonian achievement in astronomy,” in [41, 233–274].Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cohen, I. B., and A. Whitman (trans.) (1999). Isaac Newton The Principia, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy: A New Translation. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    van Fraassen, B. C. (1985). “Empiricism in the Philosophy of Science,” in [35, 245–308]Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Will, C. M (1993). Theory and Experiment in Gravitational Physics, 2nd revised edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.MATHGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Will, C. M. (1986). Was Einstein Right? Putting General Relativity to the Test. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Newcomb, S. (1882). “Discussion and Results of Observations on Transits of Mercury from 1677 to 1881.” Astronomical Papers Prepared for the Use of the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac I 473.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hall, A. (1894). “A suggestion in the theory of Mercury,” The Astronomical Journal 14, 35–46.ADSGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Valluri, S. R., C. Wilson, and W. L. Harper (1997). “Newton's apsidal precession theorem and eccentric orbits,” Journal for the History of Astronomy 28, 13–27.MathSciNetADSGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Brown, E. W. (1903). “On the Verification of the Newtonian Law,” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 14, 396–397.ADSGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Einstein A. ([1915] 1979). “Explanation of the perihelion motion of Mercury by means of the general theory of relativity,” Prussian Academy Proceedings 11, 831–839. B. Doyle (Trans.) in [38, 822–825].Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Earman, J. and M. Janssen (1993). “Einstein's Explanation of the Motion of Mercury's Perihelion,” in [40, 129–172].MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pais, A. (1982) Subtle is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Dicke, R. H. (1965). The Theoretical Significance of Experimental Relativity. New York: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Dicke, R. H., and H. M. Goldenberg (1967). Physical Review Letters 18, 313.CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Dicke, R. H., and H. M. Goldenberg (1974). “The oblateness of the Sun,” Astrophysics Journal Supplement Series. No. 241, 27, 131–182.CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dicke, R. H. (1974). “The oblateness of the Sun and relativity,” Science 184, 419–429.CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Shapiro, I. (1964). “Fourth test of general relativity,” Physical Review Letters 13, 789–791.CrossRefMathSciNetADSGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Shapiro, I. I., M. E. Ash, R. P. Ingalls, W. B. Smith, D. B. Campbell, R. B. Dyce, R. F. Jurgens, and G. H. Pettengill (1971). “Fourth test of general relativity: new radar result,” .Physical Review Letters 26, 1132–1135.CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Reasenberg, R. D., I. I Shapiro, P. E. MacNeil, R. B. Goldstein, J. C. Breidenthal, J. P. Brenkle, D. L. Cain, T. M. Kaufman, T. A. Komarek, and A. I. Zygielbaum (1979). “Viking relativity experiment: Verification of signal retardation by solar gravity,” .The Astrophysical Journal 234, L219–221.CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Newton, I. ([1704] 1952) Optics: Or a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. (Based on the 4th edition of 1730.) New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Shimony, A. (1970). “Scientific Inference,” in R. G. Colodny, ed., The Nature and Function of Scientific Theories. Pittsburgh: Pittsburg University Press. Reprinted in Shimony (1993), 183–273.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Shimony, A. (1993). “Reconsiderations on Inductive Inference,” in Search for a Naturalistic World View, Vol. I: Scientific Method and Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 274–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Harper, W. L. (2007). “Acceptance and Scientific Inference,” in W. Harper and G. Wheeler, eds. (2007), Probability and Inference: Essays in Honour of Henry E. Kyburg, Jr. London: Kings College Press, 33–52.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Stein, H. (1970). “On the Notion of Field in Newton, Maxwell, and Beyond,” in R. H. Stuewer, ed., Historical and Philosophical Perspectives of Science, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 264–287.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Stein, H (1977). “Some Philosophical Prehistory of General Relativity,” in J. Earman, C. Glymour, and J. Stachel, eds., Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 8, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 3–49.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Stein, H (1991). “‘From the Phenomena of Motions to the Forces of Nature’: Hypothesis or Deduction?” in PSA 1990, Vol. 2, 209–222.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Stein, H (2002). “Newton's Metaphysics,” in I. B. Cohen and G. Smith, eds., Cambridge Companion to Newton, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 256–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Harper, W. L. (1998). “Measurement and Approximation: Newton's Inferences from Phenomena versus Glymour's Bootstrap Confirmation,” in P. Weingartner, G. Schurz, and G. Dorn, eds., The Role of Pragmatics in Contemporary Philosophy, Vienna: Hoölder-Pinchler-Tempsky, 265–287.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    French, A. P. (1971). Newtonian Mechanics. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.MATHGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Aiton, E. J. (1995) “The Vortex Theory in Competition with Newtonian Celestial Mechanics” in R. Taton and C. Wilson, eds., The General History of Astronomy, Vol. 2, Planetary astronomy from the Renaissance to the rise of astrophysics, Part A: Tycho Brahe to Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3–21.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Shimony, A. (1993). Search for a Naturalistic World View, Vol. I: Scientific Method and Epis-temology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Brans, C., and R. H. Dicke, (1961). “Mach's principle and a relativistic theory of gravitation” Physical Review 124, 925–935. Reprinted in Dicke, R. H. (1965). The Theoretical Significance of Experimental Relativity. New York: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 77–96.MATHCrossRefMathSciNetADSGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Churchland P. M. and Hooker C. A., eds. (1985). Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism with a reply from Bas C. Van Fraassen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Harper, W. L. (2007). “Newton's Methodology and Mercury's Perihelion before and after Einstein” Philosophy of Science 74, 932–942.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Harper, W. L. and G. R. Wheeler, eds. (2007). Probability and Inference: Essays in Honour of Henry E. Kyburg, Jr. London: Kings College Press.MATHGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Lang, K. R. and O. Gingerich, eds. (1979). A Source Book in Astronomy and Astrophysics, 1900–1975. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Roseveare, N. T. (1982). Mercury's Perihelion from Le Verrier to Einstein Oxford: Oxford University Press.MATHGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Earman, J., M. Janssen, and J. Norton, eds. (1993). The Attraction of Gravitation: New Studies in the History of General Relativity. Boston: Birkháuser.MATHGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Taton, R., and C. Wilson, eds. (1989). The General History of Astronomy, Vol. 2, Planetary astronomy from the Renaissance to the rise of astrophysics, Part A: Tycho Brahe to Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Huygens, C. (1690). Discourse on the Cause of Gravity, manuscript translation by Karen Bailey with annotations by Karen Bailey and George Smith. Translation of Discours de la Cause de la Pesanteur, in Oeuvres completes de Christian Huygens, vol. 21 (La Haye: Nijhoff, 1944), pp. 462–71 and pp. 476ff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Harper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Western OntarioCanada

Personalised recommendations