On Principles In Sadi Carnot’s Heat Theory (1824)

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In general, a principle may be the first element in the development of a scientific theory. However, it is a specific restriction of the hypothesis that one is going to adopt. Furthermore, one can affirm that (e.g.) a special principle is like a proposition; the substance of which, in general, may not be mathematically confuted nor experimentally demonstrated. In some previous papers on the history and foundations of physics, it has been shown that the discursive part of Sadi Carnot’s Réflexions sur la Puissance Motrice du Feu (1824), presents more than 60 Doubly Negated Sentences (DNSs); since these are not equivalent to the corresponding affirmative sentences: they involve non-classical logic. This kind of analysis shows that Sadi Carnot consistently chooses to work within non-classical logic. Upon the basis of such results, I shall in this paper, seek to demonstrate that the French scientist’s theory includes more than two principles, all of which are expressed through the use of DNSs arising from non-classical logic. The number of principles is larger than the two, which were very well discussed by historian Philip Lervig in the 1970s and 1980s. It is also larger than the number commonly expounded by the modern theory of heat. This kind of research is based upon the use of particular historical categories to investigate the foundations of a scientific proposition. It has been derived from two categories of historical interpretation: the order of ideas as an element of understanding the evolution of scientific thought on one hand; and on the other, the use of logics as a means of determining context and analysis of the structure of a theory. The examination of a theory by the use of categories is valuable where the historical exploration of the origins cannot be analysed using a traditional approach. Obviously, the content of this work may potentially appear factious as it cannot be assumed to be the only possible perspective.
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