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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 92, Issue 1, Winter 2018

Stephen M. Barr
Pages 123-144
DOI: 10.5840/acpq20171227142

The Mathematization of Physics and the Neo-Thomism of Duhem and Maritain

Pierre Duhem and Jacques Maritain, influenced by positivist philosophies of science that prevailed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, adopted markedly non-realist views about the mathematical theories of the modern physical sciences. The philosophies of science they developed were a hybrid of Thomism and positivism. This paper argues that the ideas of Duhem and Maritain about the relation of the mathematical theories of modern physics to physical reality are inadequate in light of the insights modern physics has yielded about the physical world.