Johanna Wolff


Dept. of Philosophy, University of Hong Kong

Operation and Visualization in Physics and Psychophysics

When a scientific discipline is still in the early stages of its development, or when it is forced to reorganize itself after a revolution, scientists within that discipline cannot rely on any established methodological foundation. Instead, new methods must be evaluated and justified in terms of criteria which do not themselves have prior scientific justification. This is why we find, as Kuhn suggested, that in times of crisis scientists often turn to sources outside of science, notably philosophy, for help.

Pauli’s objection to Weyl and the origins of the divide between Anschaulichkeit and Beobachtbarkeit

During the heated debate between developers of matrix mechanics (Heisenberg, Born, Jordan) and the supporters of wave mechanics (Schrödinger, Einstein) around 1926-7, Beobachtbarkeit (observability) and Anschaulichkeit (visualizability) emerged as the respective rallying cries for the two camps. This divide between Beobachtbarkeit and Anschaulichkeit turned into a philosophical debate over the foundations of quantum mechanics, and has often been interpreted as a debate over realism (or perhaps Kantianism) on the one hand, and empiricism (or positivism) on the other.