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Philosophy of Physical Science

Edited by Hans Halvorson (Princeton University)
Assistant editor: Justin Bzovy (University of Western Ontario)
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  1. added 2014-08-25
    Mauro Dorato (forthcoming). Dynamical Versus Structural Explanations in Scientific Revolutions. Synthese.
    By briefly reviewing three well-known scientific revolutions in fundamental physics (the discovery of inertia, of special relativity and of general relativity), I claim that problems that were supposed to be crying for a dynamical explanation in the old paradigm ended up receiving a structural explanation in the new one. This claim is meant to give more substance to Kuhn’s view that revolutions are accompanied by a shift in what needs to be explained, while suggesting at the same time the existence (...)
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  2. added 2014-08-22
    David Wallace, Emergence of Particles From Bosonic Quantum Field Theory.
    An examination is made of the way in which particles emerge from linear, bosonic, massive quantum field theories. Two different constructions of the one-particle subspace of such theories are given, both illustrating the importance of the interplay between the quantum-mechanical linear structure and the classical one. Some comments are made on the Newton-Wigner representation of one-particle states, and on the relationship between the approach of this paper and those of Segal, and of Haag and Ruelle.
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  3. added 2014-08-22
    Tracy Lupher (2010). Not Quite Particles, Not Quite Fields. Humana.Mente 13:155-173.
    There are significant problems involved in determining the ontology of quantum field theory (QFT). An ontology involving particles seems to be ruled out due to the problem of defining localized position operators, issues involving interactions in QFT, and, perhaps, the appearance of unitarily inequivalent representations. While this might imply that fields are the most natural ontology for QFT, the wavefunctional interpretation of QFT has significant drawbacks. A modified field ontology is examined where determinables are assigned to open bounded regions of (...)
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  4. added 2014-08-22
    George Fleming & Jeremy Butterfield (1999). Strange Positions. In From Physics to Philosophy.
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  5. added 2014-08-22
    David Malament (1996). In Defense of Dogma: Why There Cannot Be a Relativistic Quantum Mechanical Theory of (Localizable) Particles. In R. Clifton (ed.), Perspectives on Quantum Reality. Kluwer.
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  6. added 2014-08-21
    Iñaki San Pedro (forthcoming). Measurement Independence, Parameter Independence and Non-Locality. European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-6.
    In a recent paper in this Journal San Pedro (2012) I formulated a conjecture relating Measurement Independence and Parameter Independence, in the context of common cause explanations of EPR correlations. My conjecture suggested that a violation of Measurement Independence would entail a violation of Parameter Independence as well. Leszek Wroński (2014) has shown that conjecture to be false. In this note, I review Wroński’s arguments and agree with him on the fate of the conjecture. I argue that what is interesting (...)
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  7. added 2014-08-06
    Barry Loewer, Brad Weslake & Eric Winsberg (eds.) (forthcoming). Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World. Harvard University Press.
    A collection of newly commissioned papers on themes from David Albert's Time and Chance (HUP, 2000), with replies by Albert. Confirmed contributors: Sean Carroll, Sidney Felder, Alison Fernandes, Mathias Frisch, Nick Huggett, Jenann Ismael, Doug Kutach, Barry Loewer, Tim Maudlin, Chris Meacham, David Wallace, and Eric Winsberg.
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  8. added 2014-08-06
    Vincenzo Fano, Enrico Giannetto, Giulia Giannini & Pierluigi Graziani (2012). Complessità E Riduzionismo. ISONOMIA - Epistemologica Series Editor.
    The enormous increasing of connections between people and the noteworthy enlargement of domains and methods in sciences have augmented extraordinarily the cardinality of the set of meaningful human symbols. We know that complexity is always on the way to become complication, i.e. a non-tractable topic. For this reason scholars engage themselves more and more in attempting to tame plurality and chaos. In this book distinguished scientists, philosophers and historians of science reflect on the topic from a multidisciplinary point of view. (...)
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  9. added 2014-08-01
    Christopher Gregory Weaver, On the Carroll-Chen Model.
    I argue that the Carroll-Chen cosmogenic model does not provide a plausible scientific explanation of our universe's initial low-entropy state.
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  10. added 2014-07-31
    Christopher J. G. Meacham (forthcoming). The Meta-Reversibility Objection. In Barry Loewer, Brad Weslake & Eric Winsberg (eds.), Time's Arrow and the Probability Structure of the World.
    One popular approach to statistical mechanics understands statistical mechanical probabilities as measures of rational indifference. Naive formulations of this ``indifference approach'' face reversibility worries - while they yield the right prescriptions regarding future events, they yield the wrong prescriptions regarding past events. This paper begins by showing how the indifference approach can overcome the standard reversibility worries by appealing to the Past Hypothesis. But, the paper argues, positing a Past Hypothesis doesn't free the indifference approach from all reversibility worries. For (...)
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  11. added 2014-07-26
    Alexander Reutlinger (forthcoming). Are Causal Facts Really Explanatorily Emergent? Ladyman and Ross on Higher-Level Causal Facts and Renormalization Group Explanation. Synthese.
    In their Every Thing Must Go, Ladyman and Ross defend a novel version of Neo- Russellian metaphysics of causation, which falls into three claims: (1) there are no fundamental physical causal facts (orthodox Russellian claim), (2) there are higher-level causal facts of the special sciences, and (3) higher-level causal facts are explanatorily emergent. While accepting claims (1) and (2), I attack claim (3). Ladyman and Ross argue that higher-level causal facts are explanatorily emergent, because (a) certain aspects of these higher-level (...)
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  12. added 2014-07-23
    Mauro Dorato (1993). Ph.D. In Stanely Tweyman (ed.), Studies in early modern philosophy. Caravan Books Delmar. 127-156.
    In this paper I sketch the evolution of the main theories of the relationship between time and motion from Descartes to Newton, by defending an hypothesis that traces back Newton’s realism about time to Barrow’s “metric realism”, which Newton developed as the claim that measuring a magnitude X implies that X exists independently of our measures.
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  13. added 2014-07-22
    Moti Mizrahi (forthcoming). The Fine-Tuning Argument and the Simulation Hypothesis. Think.
    In this paper, I propose that, in addition to the multiverse hypothesis, which is commonly taken to be an alternative explanation for fine-tuning, other than the design hypothesis, the simulation hypothesis is another explanation for fine-tuning. I then argue that the simulation hypothesis undercuts the alleged evidential connection between ‘designer’ and ‘supernatural designer of immense power and knowledge’ in much the same way that the multiverse hypothesis undercuts the alleged evidential connection between ‘fine-tuning’ and ‘fine-tuner’ (or ‘designer’). If this is (...)
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  14. added 2014-07-13
    Eric Cator & Klaas Landsman (2014). Constraints on Determinism: Bell Versus Conway–Kochen. Foundations of Physics 44 (7):781-791.
    Bell’s Theorem from Physics 36:1–28 (1964) and the (Strong) Free Will Theorem of Conway and Kochen from Notices AMS 56:226–232 (2009) both exclude deterministic hidden variable theories (or, in modern parlance, ‘ontological models’) that are compatible with some small fragment of quantum mechanics, admit ‘free’ settings of the archetypal Alice and Bob experiment, and satisfy a locality condition akin to parameter independence. We clarify the relationship between these theorems by giving reformulations of both that exactly pinpoint their resemblance and their (...)
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  15. added 2014-07-12
    Peter Bierhorst (2014). A Rigorous Analysis of the Clauser–Horne–Shimony–Holt Inequality Experiment When Trials Need Not Be Independent. Foundations of Physics 44 (7):736-761.
    The Clauser–Horne–Shimony–Holt (CHSH) inequality is a constraint that local hidden variable theories must obey. Quantum Mechanics predicts a violation of this inequality in certain experimental settings. Treatments of this subject frequently make simplifying assumptions about the probability spaces available to a local hidden variable theory, such as assuming the state of the system is a discrete or absolutely continuous random variable, or assuming that repeated experimental trials are independent and identically distributed. In this paper, we do two things: first, show (...)
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  16. added 2014-07-03
    Yann Benétreau-Dupin (forthcoming). Blurring Out Cosmic Puzzles. Philosophy of Science.
    The Doomsday argument and anthropic arguments are illustrations of a paradox. In both cases, a lack of knowledge apparently yields surprising conclusions. Since they are formulated within a Bayesian framework, the paradox constitutes a challenge to Bayesianism. Several attempts, some successful, have been made to avoid these conclusions, but some versions of the paradox cannot be dissolved within the framework of orthodox Bayesianism. I show that adopting an imprecise framework of probabilistic reasoning allows for a more adequate representation of ignorance (...)
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  17. added 2014-07-01
    Luciano Boi (2012). Fondamenti geometrici e problemi filosofici dello spazio-tempo. Isonomía:1-37.
    The answer to some of the longstanding issues in the 20th century theoretical physics, such as those of the incompatibility between general relativity and quantum mechanics, the broken symmetries of the electroweak force acting at the subatomic scale and the missing mass of Higgs particle, and also those of the cosmic singularity and the black matter and energy, appear to be closely related to the problem of the quantum texture of space-time and the fluctuations of its underlying geometry. Each region (...)
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  18. added 2014-06-26
    Marcus Arvan (forthcoming). A Unified Explanation of Quantum Phenomena? The Case for the Peer-to-Peer Simulation Hypothesis as an Interdisciplinary Research Program. Philosophical Forum.
    In my 2013 article, “A New Theory of Free Will”, I argued that several serious hypotheses in philosophy and modern physics jointly entail that our reality is structurally identical to a peer-to-peer (P2P) networked computer simulation. The present paper outlines how quantum phenomena emerge naturally from the computational structure of a P2P simulation. §1 explains the P2P Hypothesis. §2 then sketches how the structure of any P2P simulation realizes quantum superposition and wave-function collapse (§2.1.), quantum indeterminacy (§2.2.), wave-particle duality (§2.3.), (...)
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  19. added 2014-06-25
    Naum S. Imyanitov (forthcoming). Adequacy of the New Formulation of the Periodic Law When Fundamental Variations Occur in Blocks and Periods. Foundations of Chemistry:1-13.
    In the Periodic Tables the transition from atoms to double-charged cations is accompanied by alterations in the composition of s and p blocks and reciprocal location of blocks, as well as by changes in the composition and length of periods. We have previously described the relationship between the atom properties and the total number of differentiating electrons. This paper demonstrates that, despite the above transition-related alterations, this relationship is also valid for the description of the properties of double-charged cations. This (...)
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  20. added 2014-06-23
    Donatello Dolce & Andrea Perali (2014). The Role of Quantum Recurrence in Superconductivity, Carbon Nanotubes and Related Gauge Symmetry Breaking. Foundations of Physics 44 (9):905-922.
    Pure quantum phenomena are characterized by intrinsic recurrences in space and time. We use this intrinsic periodicity as a quantization condition to derive a heuristic description of the essential quantum phenomenology of superconductivity. The resulting description is based on fundamental quantum dynamics and geometrical considerations, rather than on microscopical characteristics of the superconducting materials. This allows us to investigate the related gauge symmetry breaking in terms of the competition between quantum recurrence and thermal noise. We also test the validity of (...)
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  21. added 2014-06-22
    Gabriel Catren (forthcoming). On the Relation Between Gauge and Phase Symmetries. Foundations of Physics:1-19.
    We propose a group-theoretical interpretation of the fact that the transition from classical to quantum mechanics entails a reduction in the number of observables needed to define a physical state (e.g. from \(q\) and \(p\) to \(q\) or \(p\) in the simplest case). We argue that, in analogy to gauge theories, such a reduction results from the action of a symmetry group. To do so, we propose a conceptual analysis of formal tools coming from symplectic geometry and group representation theory, (...)
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  22. added 2014-06-22
    Jean-Pierre Llored (forthcoming). Kostas Gavroglu and Ana Simões: Neither Physics nor Chemistry. A History of Quantum Chemistry. Foundations of Chemistry:1-4.
    In line with their previous studies dedicated to quantum chemistry (Gavroglu and Simões 1994, 2000; Simões and Gavroglu 1997, 2001), the last joint publication by Kostas Gavroglu and Ana Simões provides the readers not only with a fine-grained, rigorous, and highly valuable book on the history of science but also with stimulating epistemological insights about the way ‘in-between’ disciplines, to use the authors’ turn of phrase, emerge from the convergence of diverging ‘styles’ of research and heterogeneous practices. To make their (...)
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  23. added 2014-06-22
    George B. Kauffman (2014). Eric R. Scerri: The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction. Foundations of Chemistry 16 (2):171-172.
    A quick question! Who’s the first name that comes to mind when the periodic table is mentioned? Dmitrii Ivanovich Mendeleev is the obvious and universal answer. And the second name? Most of you would probably agree with my answer: Eric R. Scerri, Lecturer in Chemistry and History and Philosophy of Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and founding editor of this journal, devoted to the philosophy of chemistry, another of his specialties.Through the years I have followed Scerri’s work (...)
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  24. added 2014-06-22
    Kosuke Odagiri (2014). Standard Model Gauge Couplings From Gauge-Dilatation Symmetry Breaking. Foundations of Physics 44 (9):932-952.
    It is well known that the self-energy of the gauge bosons is quadratically divergent in the Standard Model when a simple cutoff is imposed. We demonstrate phenomenologically that the quadratic divergences in fact unify. The unification occurs at a surprisingly low scale, \(\Lambda _\mathrm {u}\approx 4\times 10^7\) GeV. Suppose now that there is a spontaneously broken rotational symmetry between the space-time coordinates and gauge theoretical phases. The symmetry-breaking pattern is such that the gauge bosons arise as the massless Goldstone bosons, (...)
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  25. added 2014-06-20
    Gábor Palló (forthcoming). Jean-Pierre Llored (Ed.): The Philosophy of Chemistry: Practices, Methodologies, and Concepts. Foundations of Chemistry:1-3.
    Chemists do not interpret the world in various ways; their point is to change it. This variation on Karl Marx’ Feuerbach thesis came to my mind while reading the new Philosophy of Chemistry volume.The 11th thesis originally sounds like this: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it”. The thick book contains more than forty studies related to the relatively new field. In this short review, it would be too much even to (...)
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  26. added 2014-06-20
    George B. Kauffman (forthcoming). Eric Scerri (Ed): 30-Second Elements: The 50 Most Significant Elements, Each Explained in Half a Minute. Foundations of Chemistry:1-2.
    Besides the book under review here, the “30-Second” series of books includes numerous titles such as those on anatomy, architecture, astronomy, the Bible, brain, economics, maths, mythology, philosophies, politics, psychology, religion, and theories.Together with eight contributors, each a leading authority with a proven track record for successfully explaining science to a general audience, Eric Scerri, Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles; founder and editor of this journal; and the undisputed world authority on the history and philosophy (...)
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  27. added 2014-06-20
    Dimitria Electra Gatzia & Rex Ramsier (forthcoming). On Special Relativity and Temporal Illusions. Erkenntnis:1-4.
    According to metaphysical tensism, there is an objective, albeit ever changing, present moment corresponding to our phenomenal experiences (Ludlow, 2012: Brogaard and Marlow, 2013). One of the principle objections to metaphysical tensism has been Einstein's argument from special relativity, which says that given that the speed of light is constant, there is no absolute simultaneity defined in terms of observations of light rays (Einstein, 1905). In a recent paper, Brogaard and Marlow (2013) argue that this objection fails. We argue that (...)
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  28. added 2014-06-19
    Julien Page & Gabriel Catren (forthcoming). Towards a Galoisian Lnterpretation of Heisenberg Lndeterminacy Principle. Foundations of Physics:1-13.
    We revisit Heisenberg indeterminacy principle in the light of the Galois–Grothendieck theory for the case of finite abelian Galois extensions. In this restricted framework, the Galois–Grothendieck duality between finite K-algebras split by a Galois extension \(L\) and finite \(Gal(L{:}K)\) -sets can be reformulated as a Pontryagin duality between two abelian groups. We define a Galoisian quantum model in which the Heisenberg indeterminacy principle (formulated in terms of the notion of entropic indeterminacy) can be understood as a manifestation of a Galoisian (...)
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  29. added 2014-06-19
    George B. Kauffman (forthcoming). Eric Scerri: A Tale of 7 Elements. Foundations of Chemistry:1-4.
    The iconic status of the periodic table of the elements has been recognized by a variety of prominent chemists and historians of science. For example, John Emsley proclaimed: “As long as chemistry is studied there will be a periodic table. And even if someday we communicate with another part of the universe, we can be sure that one thing that both cultures will have in common is an ordered system of the elements that will be instantly recognizable by both intelligent (...)
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  30. added 2014-06-17
    George B. Kauffman (forthcoming). Ulf Lagerkvist: Erling Norrby (Ed.): The Periodic Table and a Missed Nobel Prize. Foundations of Chemistry:1-3.
    The “story behind the story” of the genesis of this book is an involved and fascinating one. In May the Sven and Dagmar Salén Foundation decided to give a grant to Ulf Lagerqvist (1926–2010) to permit publication of his manuscript titled The Bewildered Nobel Committee by the World Scientific Publishing Company (WSPC). This decision was based on a thorough review by Torbjörn Norin, Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Royal School of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, KTH) in Stockholm and a (...)
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  31. added 2014-06-16
    P. Watson & A. J. Bracken (2014). Quantum Phase Space From Schwinger's Measurement Algebra. Foundations of Physics 44 (7):762-780.
    Schwinger’s algebra of microscopic measurement, with the associated complex field of transformation functions, is shown to provide the foundation for a discrete quantum phase space of known type, equipped with a Wigner function and a star product. Discrete position and momentum variables label points in the phase space, each taking \(N\) distinct values, where \(N\) is any chosen prime number. Because of the direct physical interpretation of the measurement symbols, the phase space structure is thereby related to definite experimental configurations.
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  32. added 2014-06-14
    Dennis Dieks (forthcoming). The Logic of Identity: Distinguishability and Indistinguishability in Classical and Quantum Physics. Foundations of Physics:1-15.
    The suggestion that particles of the same kind may be indistinguishable in a fundamental sense, even so that challenges to traditional notions of individuality and identity may arise, has first come up in the context of classical statistical mechanics. In particular, the Gibbs paradox has sometimes been interpreted as a sign of the untenability of the classical concept of a particle and as a premonition that quantum theory is needed. This idea of a ‘quantum connection’ stubbornly persists in the literature, (...)
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  33. added 2014-06-09
    Luca Moretti (2014). String Theory and the Scientific Method: Interview with Richard Dawid. The Reasoner 8 (8):87-89.
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  34. added 2014-06-07
    Gabriel Vacariu (2014). Few Words About Quantum Mechanics (From Vacariu 2014, Pp. 309-313. University of Bucharest Publishing Company.
    few words about quantum mechanics and the EDWs perspective.
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  35. added 2014-06-06
    Rodney Van Meter (2014). Quantum Computing's Classical Problem, Classical Computing's Quantum Problem. Foundations of Physics 44 (8):819-828.
    Tasked with the challenge to build better and better computers, quantum computing and classical computing face the same conundrum: the success of classical computing systems. Small quantum computing systems have been demonstrated, and intermediate-scale systems are on the horizon, capable of calculating numeric results or simulating physical systems far beyond what humans can do by hand. However, to be commercially viable, they must surpass what our wildly successful, highly advanced classical computers can already do. At the same time, those classical (...)
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  36. added 2014-06-03
    Louis Vervoort, No-Go Theorems Face Fluid-Dynamical Theories for Quantum Mechanics.
    Recent experiments on fluid-dynamical systems have revealed a series of striking quantum-like features of these macroscopic systems, thus reviving the quest to describe quantum mechanics by classical, in particular fluid-dynamical, theories. However, it is generally admitted that such an endeavor is impossible, on the basis of the 'no-go' theorems of Bell and Kochen-Specker. Here we show that such theorems are inoperative for fluid-dynamical models, even if these are local. Such models appear to violate one of the premises of both theorems, (...)
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  37. added 2014-06-03
    David Hyder (2014). Review of Michael Friedman, Kant’s Construction of Nature. [REVIEW] Isis 105 (2).