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Bridgman, Percy William (1882–1961)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Q007-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Bridgman founded high-pressure experimental physics and was committed to a classical empiricist view of science – a view challenged by twentieth-century developments in relativistic and quantum mechanics. He argued that developments in special relativity showed the experimental operations scientists performed were suitable substitutes for basic constituents of matter, thus founding operationalism, a methodological position which influenced logical positivism and, transformed beyond his recognition, was expropriated by the behaviourist school in the social sciences. As Bridgman grappled with the challenges of general relativity and quantum mechanics, he increasingly parted company with his positivistic and behaviourist followers by moving more towards subjectivist views of science and knowledge. These later views led him to see and explore intimate connections between foundations of scientific knowledge and human freedom.

Citing this article:
Suppe, Frederick. Bridgman, Percy William (1882–1961), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Q007-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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