Two types of idealization in theory construction are distinguished, and the distinction is used to give a critique of Ron Laymon's account of confirming idealized theories and his argument for scientific realism.
Our discussion in the first five sections shows that little new can be said about compatibilism, that van Inwagen's argument for incompatibilism still stands, and that the view of free agency for a libertarian has little chance unless she believes that agency contains elements that are not within the natural order. Borrowing from a suggestion from Russell we expanded the Nozick-Kane model of libertarian free agency and connected it to the Wignerian interpretation of quantum measurement. As such, free decisions and (...) choices may well violate the Born rule of probability distribution and yet it is shown how such violations are unlikely to be detected in experiments. This model is probably the only model in which Loewer's van Inwagen style argument for the incompatibility between free agency and quantum indeterminism does not apply, and it is a model in which free agency is not only compatible but necessary. It is compatible with indeterminism and it is necessary for the determinateness of any measurement outcomes. (shrink)
Two alternative accounts of quantum spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) are compared and one of them, the decompositional account in the algebraic approach, is argued to be superior for understanding quantum SSB. Two exactly solvable models are given as applications of our account -- the Weiss-Heisenberg model for ferromagnetism and the BCS model for superconductivity. Finally, the decompositional account is shown to be more conducive to the causal explanation of quantum SSB.
In this paper, a criticism of the traditional theories of approximation and idealization is given as a summary of previous works. After identifying the real purpose and measure of idealization in the practice of science, it is argued that the best way to characterize idealization is not to formulate a logical model – something analogous to Hempel's D-N model for explanation – but to study its different guises in the praxis of science. A case study of it is then made (...) in thermostatistical physics. After a brief sketch of the theories for phase transitions and critical phenomena, I examine the various idealizations that go into the making of models at three difference levels. The intended result is to induce a deeper appreciation of the complexity and fruitfulness of idealization in the praxis of model-building, not to give an abstract theory of it. (shrink)
I first give a brief summary of a critique of the traditional theories of approximation and idealization; and after identifying one of the major roles of idealization as detaching component processes or systems from their joints, a detailed analysis is given of idealized laws – which are discoverable and/or applicable – in such processes and systems (i.e., idealized model systems). Then, I argue that dispositional properties should be regarded as admissible properties for laws and that such an inclusion supplies the (...) much needed connection between idealized models and the laws they `produce'' or `accommodate''. And I then argue that idealized law-statements so produced or accommodated in the models may be either true simpliciter or true approximately, but the latter is not because of the idealizations involved. I argue that the kind of limiting-case idealizations that produce approximate truth is best regarded as approximation; and finally I compare my theory with some existing theories of laws of nature.We seem to trace [in KingLear] ... the tendency of imagination toanalyse and abstract, to decomposehuman nature into its constituentfactors, and then to construct beings in whomone or more of these factors isabsent or atrophied or only incipient. (shrink)
This paper aims at answering the simple question, “What is spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) in classical systems?” I attempt to do this by analyzing from a philosophical perspective a simple classical model which exhibits some of the main features of SSB. Related questions include: What does it mean to say that a symmetry is spontaneously broken? Is it broken without any causes, or is the symmetry not broken but merely hidden? Is the principle, “no asymmetry in, no asymmetry out,” violated (...) by SSB? What really distinguishes SSB from the usual types of symmetry breaking? (shrink)
Physics seems to tell us that there are four fundamental force-fields in nature: the gravitational, the electromagnetic, the weak, and the strong (or interactions). But it also seems to tell us that gravity cannot possibly be a force-field, in the same sense as the other three are. And yet the search for a grand unification of all four force-fields is today one of the hottest pursuits. Is this the result of a simple confusion? This article aims at clarifying this situation (...) by (i) reviewing the gauge-field programme and its conception of unification of force-fields, (ii) examining the various attempts at a gauge theory of gravity, and (iii) articulating the nature of "gauging" and using it to explain the difference between gravity and the other force-fields. (shrink)
This essay explores the nature of spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) in connection with a cluster of interrelated concepts such as Curie's symmetry principle, ergodicity, and chance and stability in classical systems. First, a clarification of the two existing senses of SSB is provided and an argument developed for a proposal for SSB, in which not only the possibilities but also the actual breakings are referred to. Second, a detailed analysis is given of classical SSB that answers the questions: (i) how (...) we are justified in regarding it as a matter of chance, and (ii) why the breakings in it are equally probable. The answer provides some support to the applicability of ergodicity in special systems (such as ours). (shrink)
This paper, part II of a two-part project, continues to explore the meaning of spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) by applying and expanding the general notion we obtained in part I to some more complex and, from the physics point of view, more important models (in condensed matter physics and in quantum field theories).
This paper aims at answering the simple question `what is spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB)?` by analyzing from a philosophical perspective a simple classical model which exhibits all the requisite properties of SSB. Related questions include: what does it mean to say that a symmetry is spontaneously broken? Is it broken without any cause, or is the symmetry not broken but merely hidden? Is the meta-principle, `no asymmetry in, no asymmetry out,` violated by SSB? And what is the role in this (...) of random perturbations (or fluctuations)? (shrink)
This paper, part I of a two-part project, aims at answering the simple question 'what is spontaneous symmetry breaking?' by analyzing from a philosophical perspective a simple classical model. Related questions include: what does it mean to break a symmetry spontaneously? Is the breaking causal, or is the symmetry not broken but merely hidden? Is the meta-principle, 'no asymmetry in, no asymmetry out,' violated? And what is the role in this of random perturbations (or fluctuations)?
This paper examines the justifications for using infinite systems to 'recover' thermodynamic properties, such as phase transitions (PT), critical phenomena (CP), and irreversibility, from the micro-structure of matter in bulk. Section 2 is a summary of such rigorous methods as in taking the thermodynamic limit (TL) to recover PT and in using renormalization (semi-) group approach (RG) to explain the universality of critical exponents. Section 3 examines various possible justifications for taking TL on physically finite systems. Section 4 discusses the (...) legitimacy of applying TL to the problem of irreversibility and assesses the repercussions for its legitimacy on its home turf. (shrink)
In this essay, I explore a metaphor in geometry for the debate between the unity and the disunity of science, namely, the possibility of putting a global coordinate system (or a chart) on a manifold. I explain why the former is a good metaphor that shows what it means (and takes in principle) for science to be unified. I then go through some of the existing literature on the unity/disunity debate and show how the metaphor sheds light on some of (...) the views and arguments. (shrink)
Phase transitions are well-understood phenomena in thermodynamics (TD), but it turns out that they are mathematically impossible in finite SM systems. Hence, phase transitions are truly emergent properties. They appear again at the thermodynamic limit (TL), i.e., in infinite systems. However, most, if not all, systems in which they occur are finite, so whence comes the justification for taking TL? The problem is then traced back to the TD characterization of phase transitions, and it turns out that the characterization is (...) the result of serious idealizations which under suitable circumstances approximate actual conditions. (shrink)
This paper is the second of a two-part series on models and theories, the first of which appeared in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 11, No. 2, 1997. It further explores some of themes of the first paper and examines applications, including: the relations between “similarity” and “isomorphism”, and between “model” and “interpretation”, and the notion of structural explanation.
The paper, as Part I of a two-part series, argues for a hybrid formulation of the semantic view of scientific theories. For stage-setting, it first reviews the elements of the model theory in mathematical logic (on whose foundation the semantic view rests), the syntactic and the semantic view, and the different notions of models used in the practice of science. The paper then argues for an integration of the notions into the semantic view, and thereby offers a hybrid semantic view, (...) which at once secures the view's logical foundations and enhances its applicability. The dilemma of either losing touch with the practice of science or yielding up the benefits of the model theory is thus avoided. (shrink)
The concepts in the title refer to properties of physical theories (which are given, in this paper, a model-theoretic formulation and appropriate idealizations) and this paper investigates their nature and relations. The first three concepts, especially gauge invariance and indeterminism, have been widely discussed in connection to spacetime theories and the hole argument. Since the gauge invariance principle is at the crux of the issue, this paper aims at clarifying the nature of gauge invariance (either in general or as general (...) covariance). I first explore the following chain of relations: gauge invariance $\Rightarrow $ the conservation laws $\Rightarrow $ the Cauchy problem $\Rightarrow $ indeterminism. Then I discuss gauge invariance in light of our understanding of the above relations and the possibility of spontaneous symmetry breaking. (shrink)
The present essay aims at broadening the recent discussion on the issue of holism vs. particularism in quantum physics. I begin with a clarification of the relation between the holism/particularism debate and the discussion of supervenience relation. I then defend particularism in physics (including quantum physics) by considering a new classification of properties of physical systems. With such a classification, the results in the Bell theorem are shown to violate spatial separability but not physical particularism.
I argue that categorical realism, contrary to what most believe today, holds for quantum (and indeed for all) objects and substances. The main argument consists of two steps: (i) the recent experimental verification of the AB effect gives strong empirical evidence for taking quantum potentials as physically real (or substantival), which suggests a change of the data upon which any viable interpretation of quantum theory must rely, and (ii) quantum potentials may be consistently taken as the categorical properties of quantum (...) objects so that categorical realism can be restored. (shrink)
The objective of this paper is to show that, instead of quantum probabilities, wave packets are physically real. First, Cartwright's recent argument for the reality of quantum probabilities is criticized. Then, the notion of ‘physically real’ is precisely defined and the difference between wave functions and quantum probabilities clarified. Being thus prepared, some strong reasons are discussed for considering the wave packet to be physically real. Finding the reasons inconclusive, I explain how the Aharonov—Bohm effect delivers the final punch. I (...) conclude that wave packets are the quantum objects that underlie the indeterministic quantum processes and have the propensity of displaying probabilistic (or indeterministic) behavior. (shrink)
This essay is a philosophical evaluation of some of the findings of Wald and Penrose in which they claim to have supported an arrow (or the irreversibility) of time in quantum gravity. First, the notion of lawlike irreversibility (or anisotropy) of time is spelled out, then the general situation in quantum mechanics is briefly discussed. Finally, the findings in quantum gravity are evaluated against such a background. My conclusion is that the arrow of time found in quantum gravity is at (...) best de facto (nonlawlike). (shrink)