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The Operational Coherence of Data Reduction in Millikan's Oil-Drop Experiment

密立根油滴實驗中數據簡化的操作融貫性

Abstracts


Robert Andrews Millikan's oil-drop experiment provided a fairly accurate measurement of the charge of the electron. However, Millikan discarded data that did not fit with his initial hypothesis regarding the value of the charge and was not honest about doing so in his published work. I use this case in order to develop an objection to Hasok Chang's operational coherence theory of truth, according to which a statement is true if belief in that statement is needed when engaging in a coherent activity. I argue that Millikan's data reduction is a coherent activity, and that Millikan's belief in his initial hypothesis regarding the charge of the electron was needed in this coherent activity because it provided the grounds for discarding some of the data. According to Chang's theory, Millikan's initial hypothesis is therefore true. Even if we think that Chang's theory provides the correct result in this case, it does so for the wrong reason. The fact that Millikan needed to believe in his initial hypothesis in order to determine which data to discard is not a good reason for concluding that his initial hypothesis is true.

Parallel abstracts


羅伯特.安德魯.密立根的油滴實驗對電子電荷提供了準確的測量。但是,密立根也刪除了與最初假設不相符的電荷數據,並且沒在出版的著作中據實以告。我用此案例來發展一個對張夏碩操作融貫真理論的反駁。張夏碩的操作融貫真理論主張,若一個主張中的信念是從事融貫活動時所需要的,則此主張為真。我論證密立根簡化數據的活動是一種融貫活動。再者,密立根對電子電荷的實驗初始假設,是其從事簡化數據這種融貫活動是需要的。因此,根據張夏碩的操作融貫真理論,我們應該主張密立根對電子電荷的實驗初始假設為真的。然而,即便我們認為密立根對電子電荷的實驗初始假設確實為真,我主張張夏碩的操作融貫真理論所提供的理由(密立根對電子電荷的實驗初始假設,是其從事簡化數據這種融貫活動是需要的)不是一個好理由。

References


Arabatzis, Theodore (2006). Representing Electrons: A Biographical Approach to Theoretical Entities. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
Chang, Hasok (2012). Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism. Dordrecht: Springer.
Chang, Hasok (2014). Epistemic Activities and Systems of Practice: Units of Analysis in Philosophy of Science after the Practice Turn. In Science after the Practice Turn in the Philosophy, History, and Social Studies of Science, edited by Léna Soler, Sjoerd Zwart, Michael Lynch, and Vincent Israel-Jost. New York and London: Routledge, pp. 67-79.
Chang, Hasok (2016). Pragmatic Realism. Revista de Humanidades de Valparaíso 4(8): 107-122.
Chang, Hasok (2017). Operational Coherence as the Source of Truth. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 117(2): 103-122.

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