From the beginning of the Scientific Revolution around the late sixteenth century to its final crystallization in the early eighteenth century, hardly an observational result, an experimental technique, a theory, a mathematical proof, a methodological principle, or the award of recognition and reputation remained unquestioned for long. The essays collected in this book examine the rich texture of debates that comprised the Scientific Revolution from which the modern conception of science emerged. Were controversies marginal episodes, restricted to certain fields, or were they the rule in the majority of scientific domains? To what extent did scientific controversies share a typical pattern, which distinguished them from debates in other fields? Answers to these historical and philosophical questions are sought through a close attention to specific controversies within and across the changing scientific disciplines as well as across the borders of the natural and the human sciences, philosophy, theology, and technology.
1. Introduction. Controversies and the dialectical texture of the Scientific Revolution; 2. Part I. Astronomy and mechanics; 3. Honore Fabri S. J. and Galileo's law of fall: What kind of controversy? (by Elazar, Michael); 4. Galileo, the Jesuits, and the controversy over the comets: What was The Assayer really about? (by Gal, Ofer); 5. Fair-mindedness versus sophistry in the Galileo affair: Two controversies for the price of one (by Finocchiaro, Maurice); 6. Part II. Light and gravity; 7. From cohesion to pesanteur: The origins of the 1669 debate on the causes of gravity (by Boantza, Victor D.); 8. Leibniz versus Newton on the nature of gravity and planetary motion (by Grannot, Nir); 9. The argumentative use of methodology: Lessons from a controversy following Newton's first optical paper (by Zemplen, Gabor); 10. Part III. Physiology and vitalism; 11. Salient theories in the fossil debate in the early Royal Society: The influence of Johann Van Helmont (by Roos, Anna Marie); 12. Were the arguments of William Harvey convincing to his contemporaries? (by Cattani, Adelino); 13. Why was there no controversy over life in the Scientific Revolution? (by Wolfe, Charles T.); 14. Part IV. Human sciences and theology; 15. The pre-Adamite controversy and the problem of racial difference in seventeenth-century natural philosophy (by Smith, Justin E.H.); 16. Scientific revolution in the moral sciences: The controversy between Samuel Pufendorf and the Lutheran theologians in the late seventeenth century (by Scattola, Merio); 17. Contributors; 18. Index