Abstract


This thesis aims at casting the Copernican Revolution in a new light. By examining and articulating in much more detail the role of auxiliary hypotheses in debates related to the Duhem-Quine thesis, and by displaying the underlying rationality of the favorable appraisal scientists often give theories that rigorously determine parameters, this thesis attempts to walk the difficult path between what Popper called the myth of the framework (relativism and holism) and what Kitcher calls the myth of Legend (logical positivism, logical empiricism, and foundationalism). Unlike Legend, this thesis does not rationally reconstruct away the importance of the messy cultural influences that externally affected the normative decisions of methodology and evidence. It embraces them as helpful in the long run in promoting science, and denies that any transcultural, transtemporal methodological features exist that select out the Copernican system as clearly superior to the Ptolemaic early in the debate. Yet, unlike relativism this thesis portrays the Copernican episode as a highly rational affair for the most part, where the major players entertained a robust debate over numerous issues, but gradually became more aware that planetary linkages with the sun were much more important than previously thought. Although not agreeing on what path this might take, they became convinced that these linkages provided the fruitful key to an eventual correct understanding of planetary motion. Supporters of heliostasis drew attention to an impressive harmony and fixity of parameters in the Copernican system regarding the saving of the core observational problem, a harmony and fixity lacking in the Ptolemaic system. Nonsupporters agreed, but either disagreed that these systemic features were decisive in selecting out the Copernican system and/or that these systemic feature could not be incorporated into a modified geostatic system. So there was a major move in developing Tycho-like geoheliocentric systems. Although successful in the short term, there was long term degeneration of this major auxiliary patch to geostasis when it was recognized that its development conflicted with one of the main motivating factors for its advancement in the first place, i.e., allegiance to Aristotelian dynamics.