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The optics of moving bodies under the vision of structural realism: non-consensual questions about the nature of science in teacher education

Grant number: 18/04779-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2018
Effective date (End): January 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Education - Educational Teaching and Learning
Principal researcher:Ivã Gurgel
Grantee:Felipe Prado Corrêa Pereira
Home Institution: Instituto de Física (IF). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The historical and philosophical approach in science teaching is widely advocated in the national and international literature with the goal of opposing distorted and naive notions about de Nature of Science (NOS). The current work described in this project, aims to explore a specific aspect of NOS, namely, the scientific realism/antirealism debate. Each side of the debate is characterized by an important argument: the realists invoke the so called no miracle argument, claiming that the huge empirical success of natural sciences would be a miracle in case the scientific theories didn't possess an ontological status; the antirealists, on the other side, invoke the pessimistic induction, alleging that there's no reason to believe that the current scientific theories correspond to reality, once even the best theories of the past had been show false. Attempting to reconcile both arguments, a branch of scientific realism argues that despite the existence of radical changes in the world view of science, the later has a cumulative aspect, which resides on the mathematical structures developed through the scientific theories. In another words, the load of reality must be assigned to the structure of those theories, and not to their postulated entities or physical content. This branch of scientific realism is called Structural Realism. Firstly, aiming to explore the contributions and limitations of this philosophical position, this work intends to analyze a specific episode of the history of physics: the change of interpretations on the Fresnel's drag coefficient - a mathematical structure used to predict and explain the optical phenomena of moving bodies - since its proposition to its reinterpretation by means of the electromagnetism and special relativity. Secondly, will be assessed and analyzed the contributions of these theoretical discussions for the Physics teaching at undergraduate level. To do so, interventions and quizzes about historical and philosophical studies on the optics of moving bodies will be made during teaching-learning sequences taught by the advisor of this project. It is hoped, then, to interpret and analyze the different positions of the students on the scientific realism/antirealism debate.

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
PEREIRA, Felipe Prado Corrêa. The Optics of Moving Bodies under the View of Structural Realism: Non-consensual Issues of Nature of Science in Teacher Training. 2021. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Instituto de Física (IF/SBI) São Paulo.

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