PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Newton, Diagrammatic Reasoning, and Inquiry

The notion of science as inquiry and inquiry-based learning are standard fare in science education. For the purposes of this presentation, we take inquiry to be
A self-directed, question-driven search for understanding.
Inquiry-based learning requires a set of questions that provide a framework for research, which may yield definitive answers to questions of limited scope or can be extended guided by questions that may not lead to definitive answers.

Interestingly, the history of science has numerous examples of the “inquiry” method. For instance, Newton’s famous “light and colours experiment” which was published in 1672 in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London essentially asks “What is the nature of light?” Newton’s Light and Colours experiment is a colourful example of the inquiry process – how and why Newton develops an experimentum crucis is illustrative of this.

Author Information:

Pierre Boulos    
University of Windsor


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