Philosophy of Science. Is it of any use for physicists?

Seminar über Theoretische Festkörperphysik


Tim Ludwig


27.05.2024 14:00


10.01, Geb. 30.23, CS; and Zoom


Department of Philosophy, Institute of Technology Futures, KIT


Paul Pöpperl


Yes, it is! That's, at least, what I'll try to convince you of. While physics focuses on empirical questions that can be answered with physical experiments (e.g. Below which temperature does nickel become ferromagnetic?), physics is also affected by answers to non-empirical questions that cannot be answered with physical experiments (e.g. When and how should we introduce new concepts in physics?). Answering such non-empirical questions about empirical sciences is a key part of philosophy of science.

After a brief oversimplified overview of 20th-century philosophy of science, I'll explain how to make empirical sense of Newton's second law. Of corse, you intuitively know very well how to apply Newton's second law. But, despite their great intuition, experienced physicists sometimes struggle to make their intuitions explicit; thus, creating a frustrating communication barrier between experts and students. Generalizing from Newton's second law, I'll present a general pattern for how to make empirical sense of fundamental laws in physics. One goal of explicating what experienced physicists intuitively do is to relieve the frustration originating from communication styles that are surprisingly different between experts and students.