Talk: Rawad El Skaf

The Geneva Symmetry Group, Beyond Spacetime, and the Space and Time After Quantum Gravity Project are happy to present a talk by Rawad El Skaf (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/IHPST):

Wednesday, 21 March 2018, exceptionally at 14:15 and in room B101 in Bastions:

Rawad El Skaf (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/IHPST): The function and limit of Galileo’s falling bodies thought experiment: Absolute weight, specific weight and the medium’s resistance

Anyone who wishes to attend is welcome.

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Rawad El Skaf (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/IHPST): The function and limit of Galileo’s falling bodies thought experiment: Absolute weight, specific weight and the medium’s resistance

Abstract: “The ongoing epistemological debate on scientific thought experiments (TEs) revolves, in part, around the now famous Galileo’s falling bodies TE and how it could justify its conclusions; for instance by direct a priori access to a law of nature (i.e. Brown) or by being a deductive argument (i.e. Norton). In this paper, I argue that the TE’s function is misrepresented in this a-historical debate as revealing and justifying a law of nature. I retrace the history of this TE and show that it constituted the first step in two general “argumentative strategies”, excogitated by Galileo to defend two different theories of free fall, in 1590’s and then in the 1630’s. I analyse both argumentative strategies and argue that their function was to explore and eliminate potential causal factors: the TE serving to eliminate absolute weight as a causal factor, while the subsequent arguments serving to explore the effect of specific weight, with conflicting conclusions in 1590 and 1638. It will be argued that the TE is best grasped when placed in the context of both argumentative strategies and in analysing Galileo’s restriction, in the TE’s scenario and conclusion, to bodies of the same material or specific weight.”

In terms of technical difficulty, this talk rates 2/5

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About wuthrich

I am a philosopher of physics at the University of Geneva.
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