Article ID: CBB866089057

Roger Boscovich and the Quantum Mechanical Combination of Dynamic and Statistical Laws (2015)


In this article I firstly examine Boscovich’s attitude towards laws of nature, which can be best inferred from his magnum opus Theoria philosophiae naturalis (1758) and from De continuitatis lege (1754). Secondly, I give an account of a contemporary view on laws on nature by Weingartner and Mittelstaedt, who recognize two types of laws, dynamic and statistical. Focussing on the latter type of laws, I present a short overview of their gradual establishment and stress Boscovich’s remarkable contribution in this regard. The establishment of statistical laws, which were in his time not recognized as such, played a key supporting role for the emerging modern scientific theory of atomism, of which Boscovich was one of the pioneers. This association of statistical laws and atomism had an impact on the formation of quantum mechanics, which can be understood as combining both types of natural laws. I conclude the article with an epistemic reflection, arguing that this duality of laws is to some extent implicit in Boscovich’s distinction, which he makes in De continuitatis lege, between the potential and actual, concepts which he acquired from Aristotle but modified by connecting them to the concepts of continuity and discreteness.

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Authors & Contributors
Howard, Stephen
Marko Uršič
Rogers, David M.
Päs, Heinrich
Tavel, Morton
Sylla, Edith Dudley
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Substantia: An International Journal of the History of Chemistry
Science in Context
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan
World Scientific
Rutgers University Press
Harvard University Press
Quantum mechanics
Statistical mechanics
Philosophy of science
Natural laws
Boscovich, Ruggiero Giuseppe
Newton, Isaac
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Kant, Immanuel
Einstein, Albert
Time Periods
18th century
20th century
17th century
21st century
United States
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (United States)

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