Speaker's Series Mar. 9

Friday, March 9, 2018 - 15:00

Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation & Rhetoric along with the PhD in Argumentation Studies at the University of Windsor invite you to a talk by


Dr. Pierre Boulos

CRRAR Fellow, Argumentation Studies Faculty


“‘Newton is right, Newton is wrong. No, Newton is right after all.’ The Paris Academy in the mid-eighteenth century”

Abstract: It is said that on his deathbed Newton claimed that the one thing that made his head ache is the “lunar problem.”  Newton’s successors inherited three major research projects/problems: the shape of the earth, Halley’s Comet, and the perturbation of the lunar orbit, or the lunar problem.  Of these the latter drew the attention of the foremost mathematicians and philosophers of the eighteenth century. Without a solution to these problems, some in the circle of informed opinion maintained that Newton’s theory should be thrown out.  Curiously it was through the meetings of learned societies, and consequently the publication in journals, that the debate over Newton’s theory was finally resolved.  This paper charts the arguments presented within the debate and illustrates its importance in understanding Newton’s scientific methodology.  Specifically, in considering the effect of the sun on the moon in her orbit, Newton was able to account for only half of the observed lunar precession.  The solution to this 3-body problem came in the late 1740s and early 1750s through the work of Clairaut, d'Alembert, and Euler.  The solution was played out in public discussions and debates, primarily at the Paris Academy and the St. Petersburg Academy, and in response to challenges presented by these academies along with monetary prizes.



Friday, March 9, 2018

3:00 pm

Memorial Hall, Room 105


All are welcome