Scientific Discovery: Between Incommensurability of Paradigms and Historical Continuity
Author: Rebaglia, A.
Source: Foundations of Science, Volume 4, Number 3, 1999 , pp. 337-355(19)
Abstract:Discoveries in physics imply two elements. The first one is the belief that formal tools, already founded in the framework of existing mathematical theories, may offer the solution to a puzzling anomaly. The second one is the ability to assign a physical meaning to the adopted formalism, and to consider all its theoretical implications.
Discussing an historical case where the adoption of a particular formalism represents the real motor of the creative intuition, we mean to delineate scientific discovery both as a discontinuous change with respect to previous achievements and as a linear process of knowledge enrichment.
On March 1948, during the Pocono conference that followed the one held in Shelter Island, Feynman analysed the electron-photon interaction formulating it in terms of the Lagrangian formalism. The development of Feynman's idea draws attention to the point that novel theoretical discoveries may be the result of applying existing formal tools. They may be the result of giving different interpretations to previous scientific thinking (according to the hermeneutical point that not even scientific texts have a single, absolute meaning but are given a multiplicity of possible readings by different people in different contexts).
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: Universitá degli Studi, Dipartimento di Discipline Filosofiche, Via Sant'Ottavio, 20, 10124 Torino, Italia firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: January 1, 1999