Chapter 4 -- Equilibrium, Natural Motion, and Models of Explanation
Hepburn, Brian S.
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Hepburn B. (2017) Equilibrium, Natural Motion, and Models of Explanation. In: Adams M., Biener Z., Feest U., Sullivan J. (eds) Eppur si muove: Eppur si muove: Doing History and Philosophy of Science with Peter Machamer. The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science (A Series of Books in Philosophy of Science, Methodology, Epistemology, Logic, History of Science, and Related Fields), vol 81. Springer, Cham
A key theme in the historiographical work of Machamer has been the ways that motion is made intelligible through explanatory means of natural motion and models of the simple machines such as the lever and pendulum. One way of spelling out the explanatory value of these strategies is through the concept of equilibrium. Natural motion and simple machines allow the simplification of complex problems in terms of self-evident, intelligible equilibrium conditions. This chapter connects the theme of equilibrium and natural motion across Machamer's work on mechanisms and mechanical explanation, on Aristotle, Galileo, Descartes and Newton, and on the pendulum and mental models. Just as equilibrium can be found within science, it also becomes a model of intelligibility for doing history and philosophy of science: a normative but objective representation of the important properties of science.
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