Heisenberg and radical theoretic change
Heisenberg, in constructing quantum mechanics, explicitly followed certain principles exemplified, as he believed, in Einstein's construction of the special theory of relativity which for him was the paradigm for radical theoretic change in physics. These were the principles of (i) scientific realism, (ii) stability of background knowledge, (iii) E-observability, (iv) contextual re-interpretation, (v) pragmatic continuity, (vi) model continuity, simplicity. Fifty years later, in retrospect, Heisenberg added the following two: a principle of non-proliferation of competing theories — scientific revolutions are not a legitimate goal of physics — and (ix) a principle of tenacity — existing theories are to be conserved as far as possible. The conservative as well as the revolutionary potential of these principles is then discussed. A more penetrating philosophical criticism of these principles is postponed.
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