Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-15-2011

Graduate Advisor

Jon McGinnis

Committee

McGinnins, Jon

Alexandrova, Anna

Northcott, Robert

Abstract

The work of Galileo Galilei has, perhaps more than any other singular historical example, been used to support a huge variety of positions within philosophy of science. This simple fact immediately yields two questions: “what is it about the case of Galileo that lends itself to be so easily reinterpreted to fit such a wide variety of interpretations”, and “what can we say with certainty about Galileo’s philosophy of science?” In this essay, I show that many interpretations of Galileo’s thought suffer from very specific problems and fallacies. These in turn allow a distorted view of Galileo’s work to be used to support widely disparate positions. Secondly, I argue that despite the wide variety of interpretations, there are identifiable trends in the works of Galileo that we can genuinely label as Galilean. None of these trends are unique in and of themselves to Galileo, but the particular synthesis they undergo in Galileo’s work is unique and is Galileo’s particular legacy.

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