Marij Van Strien
Bergische Universität Wuppertal
This paper aims to show that the development of Feyerabend’s philosophical ideas in the 1950s and 1960s largely took place in the context of debates on quantum mechanics. In particular, he developed his influential arguments for pluralism in science in discussions with the quantum physicist David Bohm, who had developed an alternative approach to quantum physics which (in Feyerabend’s perception) was met with a dogmatic dismissal by some of the leading quantum physicists. I argue that Feyerabend’s arguments for theoretical pluralism and for challenging established theories were connected to his objections to the dogmatism and conservatism he observed in quantum physics. However, as Feyerabend gained insight into the physical details and historical complexities which led to the development of quantum mechanics, he gradually became more modest in his criticisms. His writings on quantum mechanics especially engaged with Niels Bohr; initially, he was critical of Bohr’s work in quantum mechanics, but in the late 1960s, he completely withdrew his criticism and even praised Bohr as a model scientist. He became convinced that however puzzling quantum mechanics seemed, it was methodologically unobjectionable – and this was crucial for his move towards ‘anarchism’ in philosophy of science.
Keywords feyerabend  Bohm  Pluralism  History of philosophy of sience  History and philosophy of science  Philosophy of quantum mechanics
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2019.03.006
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