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Niels Bohr and the Quantum AtomThe Bohr Model of Atomic Structure 1913–1925$
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Helge Kragh

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199654987

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654987.001.0001

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Appendix: The Philosophers’ Atom

Appendix: The Philosophers’ Atom

(p.364) 9 Appendix: The Philosophers’ Atom
Niels Bohr and the Quantum Atom

Helge Kragh

Oxford University Press

This appendix offers a brief outline of how philosophers of science since the 1960s have thought about the Bohr atomic theory. One group of problems that has attracted philosophical interest relates to the logical and conceptual structure of the theory — for instance, does it build on an inconsistent foundation?—while another group relates to the dynamics of the theory. Why did it develop as it did? Why was it abandoned in 1925? The chapter recalls the different views of some eminent philosophers, including K. Popper and T. Kuhn, and also refers to the literature on the subject written by more recent philosophers. It is argued that the Bohr theory is indeed an important case study for philosophers, but that it needs to be dealt with in a historically sensitive way.

Keywords:   philosophy, Bohr theory, atomic theory, philosophers, Karl Popper, Imre Lakatos, Thomas Kuhn

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