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Although now replaced by more modern theories, classical mechanics remains a core foundational element of physical theory. From its inception, the theory of dynamics has been riddled with conceptual issues and differing philosophical interpretations and throughout its long historical development, it has shown subtle conceptual refinement. The interpretive program for the theory has also shown deep evolutionary change over time. Lawrence Sklar discusses crucial issues in the central theory from which contemporary foundational theories are derived and shows how some core issues (the nature of force, the place of absolute reference frames) have nevertheless remained deep puzzles despite the increasingly sophisticated understanding of the theory which has been acquired over time. His book will be of great interest to philosophers of science, philosophers in general and physicists concerned with foundational interpretive issues in their field.
Table of Contents
The prehistory of classical dynamics
The astronomical revolution
Precursors to Newtonian dynamics
The Newtonian synthesis
Philosophical aspects of the Newtonian synthesis
The history of statics
The development of dynamics after Newton
The 'Newtonian' approach after Newton
From virtual work to Lagrange's equation
Some philosophical reflections on explanation and theory
Canonical transformations, optical analogies and algebraic structures
The search for new foundations
New directions in the applications of dynamics
Spacetime formulations of Newtonian dynamics
Formalizations: mass and force
Modes of explanation
Retrospective and conclusions
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