Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Duhem, Pierre
 
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Translation I 173
Translation/Measuring/Duhem: The measurement methods are the vocabulary that allows translations. Who translates, falsifies. The Italians say: Tradutore tradittore. There is never a complete consistency between two texts which are translations of one another. The difference between the concrete facts observed by the physicists and the numerical symbols that he uses is extraordinary.
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I 174
A theoretical fact has nothing indefinite, nothing fluctuating. The body being studied is geometrically defined. Its edges are real lines, without thickness, its corners are real points without dimensions.
Each point of a body corresponds to a temperature, and this temperature is, for each point, a number which is sharply defined by every other.
This theoretical fact is opposed to the practical fact whose translation it is. Here nothing more can be seen of precision.
The body is no longer a geometric one, but a concrete block, its edges jagged ridges, its points more or less broad, its temperature a medium one in a certain volume. It is also not the definite number, clearly distinguished from any other number.
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I 175
Nor could we explain that the temperature is exactly 10°, but only that it does not exceed a certain fraction of the degree which depends on the accuracy of the instrument.
An infinite number of different theoretical facts can serve as a translation of the same practical fact.
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I 178
When translating into concrete language, it is possible to obtain several facts which differ from each other because of the sensitivity of our instruments.
E.g. the different values given by our thermodynamic formula v for the ice melting point may have a difference of one-tenth or more of a degree, while our thermometer measures one-hundredth of an inch.

Duh I
P. Duhem
Ziel und Struktur der physikalischen Theorien Hamburg 1998


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-04-23