Pierre Duhem (1861-1916)

By f.kenna
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    Pierre Duhem's origin (1861-1916)

    Duhem was born to a Flemish family in 1961 and was the oldest of four children. He proved to be an exceptionally gifted student "Leaving the Collège Stanislas with outstanding achievements in Latin, Greek, science, mathematics and other subjects..."(O'Connor, Robertson). Duhem had the choice between two colleges; the École Polytechnique and the École Normale. He ranked first in both entrance exams but chose the later to focus on pure science. he began studying Aug 2nd 1882.
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    Pierre Duhem's Early Career (1861-1916)

    in 1884 Pierre published his first paper on electrochemical cells he submitted his thesis prior to receiving his doctorate in mathematics. "The thesis was on thermodynamic potential in physics and chemistry and in it he defined the criterion for chemical reactions in terms of free energy."(O'Connor, Robertson 2001) Though he was correct, he suffered his whole life for contradicting Marcellin Berthelot, a well known scientist. he began teaching at Lille and married Adèle Chayet in October 1890.
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    Pierre Duhem's mid life (1861-1916)

    After leaving Lille he arrived at Rennes in 1893, but found it wasn't a good fit for him, so he then moved to the University of Bordeaux on 13 October 1894 where he became a professor of Theoretical Physics. Unfortunately though, he was unable to move to Paris which would have been expected due of his scientific merits but his feud with Berthelot over their contradictory theosis and religious views (as Duhem was devoutly catholic) made that all but impossible.
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    Pierre Duhem's later Career (1861-1916)

    Like many in his time Duhem shared the belief that there were no scientific advancements in the middle ages, but this would change after he discovered Jordanus Nemorarius in 1903. Discovering a scientist who worked prior to Leonardo da Vinci led him to search for more individuals who did as well. He wrote multiple works from his findings the last being "Le Système du monde, Histoire des doctrines cosmologiques, de Platon à Copernic". Which he was unable to finish before his death in 1816.
  • Aim and Structure of Physical Theory

    Aim and Structure of Physical Theory
    Often regarded as a classic in the field of philosophy of physical science "Duhem’s Aim and Structure of Physical Theory" explores his keen thoughts and ideas regarding the scientific method. "Duhem opens with the epistemological dichotomy that drives his analysis: do physical theories explain a group of experimentally discovered laws, or do theories merely combine and classify such laws, without claiming to offer an explanation?" (Nahr 2016).
  • Duhem-Quine Thesis 1950's

    Duhem-Quine Thesis 1950's
    "The Quine-Duhem thesis is a form of the thesis of the underdetermination of theory by empirical evidence. The basic problem is that individual theoretical claims are unable to be confirmed or falsified on their own, in isolation from surrounding hypotheses."(PhilPapers 2021).Essentially, this means that to test a theory using empirical methods one needs outside information to build upon, and therefore cannot be done in seclusion. though Duhem felt his theory was applicable only to physics...