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Eran Tal – How history and philosophy of science inform each other

September 19, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

McGill University

Department of Philosophy

History and Philosophy of Science Program

Prof. Eran Tal

McGill University

Weighing the Kilogram:

How history and philosophy of science inform each other

Historians of science seek to construct narratives that elucidate scientific change. Philosophers of science attempt to establish general claims about the methods and products of science. How can the two disciplines fruitfully inform each other? This talk will discuss an example in which a combination of historical and philosophical analyses contributes to an understanding of a contemporary scientific development. The example is the planned redefinition of the kilogram, the standard unit of mass in the metric system. In 2018 the General Conference on Weights and Measures plans to abolish the existing definition of the kilogram as the mass of a particular metal cylinder, and to redefine the kilogram by fixing the value of a fundamental constant called the Planck constant. Using insights from both history and philosophy of science, this talk will clarify the presuppositions and consequences of the planned redefinition of the kilogram, and critically examine the rhetoric surrounding the redefinition in current scientific literature.

When:   Friday September 16, 2016 3:30-5:00 pm

Where:  Leacock 927

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