Article ID: CBB000830786

Atom's Empirical Eve: Methodological Disputes and How to Evaluate Them (2007)


This paper examines the debate in the late 19th and early 20th centuries over the acceptability of atomic and molecular physics. It focuses on three prominent figures: Maxwell, who defended atomic physics, Ostwald, who initially rejected it but changed his mind as a result of experiments by Thomson and Perrin, and Duhem, who never accepted it. Each scientist defended the position he did in the light of strongly held methodological views concerning empirical evidence. The paper critically evaluates each of these methodological positions.


Description On the late 19th- and early 20th-century debate over the acceptability of atomic and molecular physics. Focuses on Maxwell, Ostwald, and Duhem.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Brakel, Jaap van; (2013)
František Wald's Empiricism (/isis/citation/CBB001320765/)

Article Bordoni, Stafano; (2013)
Routes Towards an Abstract Thermodynamics in the Late Nineteenth Century (/isis/citation/CBB001320791/)

Article van Strien, Marij; (2013)
The Nineteenth Century Conflict between Mechanism and Irreversibility (/isis/citation/CBB001213355/)

Article Klodian Coko; (2015)
Epistemology of a Believing Historian: Making Sense of Duhem's Anti-Atomism (/isis/citation/CBB386493933/)

Chapter Francesco Calemi; (2017)
Sottodeterminazione e leggi di natura: Osservazioni sulla tesi Duhem–Quine (/isis/citation/CBB568450738/)

Article Deltete, Robert J.; (2012)
Planck, Ostwald, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics (/isis/citation/CBB001232112/)

Article Sonia Maria Dion; (2018)
Natural Classification and Pierre Duhem's Historical Work: Which Relationships? (/isis/citation/CBB874044967/)

Chapter Pierre–Michel Vauthelin; (2017)
Duhem et la thermodynamique française de la fin du XIXe siècle (/isis/citation/CBB074154000/)

Book Mirella Fortino; (2017)
Pierre Duhem: Verità, ragione e metodo (/isis/citation/CBB718409602/)

Article Brenner, Anastasios; Needham, Paul; Stump, David J.; Deltete, Robert; (2011)
New Perspectives on Pierre Duhem's The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory (/isis/citation/CBB001032933/)

Article Cat, Jordi; (2001)
On Understanding: Maxwell on the Methods of Illustration and Scientific Metaphor (/isis/citation/CBB000100733/)

Chapter Nersessian, Nancy J.; (2001)
Concept formation and commensurability (/isis/citation/CBB000102881/)

Chapter Stefano Bordoni; (2017)
Pierre Duhem 1891-1896. Dalla fisica teorica alla storia e filosofia della scienza (/isis/citation/CBB719226825/)

Article Sindhuja Bhakthavatsalam; (2015)
The Rationale Behind Pierre Duhem's Natural Classification (/isis/citation/CBB925026101/)

Chapter Marco Buzzoni; (2018)
Ernst Mach interprete di Pierre Duhem. Valore e limiti della sperimentazione mentale (/isis/citation/CBB306281511/)

Article Francesco Nappo; (2021)
The double nature of Maxwell's physical analogies (/isis/citation/CBB554615043/)

Authors & Contributors
Bordoni, Stefano
Cat, Jordi
Nersessian, Nancy J.
Brenner, Anastasios A.
Stump, David J.
Ryckman, Thomas A.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science
European Physical Journal H
Edizioni ETS
Philosophy of science
Duhem, Pierre
Maxwell, James Clerk
Mach, Ernst
Ostwald, Friedrich Wilhelm
Boltzmann, Ludwig
Kelvin, William Thomson, Baron
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
Great Britain
Prague (Czechia)
United States

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment