A Constructivist View of Newton’s Mechanics

H. G. Solari, M. A. Natiello

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


In the present essay we attempt to reconstruct Newtonian mechanics under the guidance of logical principles and of a constructive approach related to the genetic epistemology of Piaget and García (Psychogenesis and the history of science, Columbia University Press, New York, 1989). Instead of addressing Newton’s equations as a set of axioms, ultimately given by the revelation of a prodigious mind, we search for the fundamental knowledge, beliefs and provisional assumptions that can produce classical mechanics. We start by developing our main tool: the no arbitrariness principle, that we present in a form that is apt for a mathematical theory as classical mechanics. Subsequently, we introduce the presence of the observer, analysing then the relation objective–subjective and seeking objectivity going across subjectivity. We take special care of establishing the precedence among all contributions to mechanics, something that can be better appreciated by considering the consequences of removing them: (a) the consequence of renouncing logic and the laws of understanding is not being able to understand the world, (b) renouncing the early elaborations of primary concepts such as time and space leads to a dissociation between everyday life and physics, the latter becoming entirely pragmatic and justified a-posteriori (because it is convenient), (c) changing our temporary beliefs has no real cost other than effort. Finally, we exemplify the present approach by reconsidering the constancy of the velocity of light. It is shown that it is a result of Newtonian mechanics, rather than being in contradiction with it. We also indicate the hidden assumption that leads to the (apparent) contradiction.

Sidor (från-till)307-341
TidskriftFoundations of Science
Tidigt onlinedatum2018 dec.
StatusPublished - 2019

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Filosofi, etik och religion
  • Annan teknik


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