Poincaré and Duhem: Resonances in their First Epistemological Reflections

João Príncipe


The object of this article is to show a certain proximity of Duhem to Poincaré in his first philosophical reflections. I study the relationships between the scientific practices of the two scholars, the contemporary theoretical context and their reflections. The first part of the article concerns the changes in epistemological consensus at the turn of the century. The second part will be devoted to Poincaré's reflections on the status of physical geometries and physical theories, as they appear in his texts written around 1890. Then I analyze the first reflections of Pierre Duhem on physical theory, in particular his thesis of the hypothetical/symbolic character of physical theories and his criteria for selecting good theories, partly associated with his ideal of physical theory; the whole set of considerations, highlighting the Poincarean inspiration.


Poincaré, Duhem, epistemology of physics, instrumentalism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24117/2526-2270.2017.i2.13


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ISSN: 2526-2270

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