Sometimes also called retro causation. A common feature of our world seems to be that in all cases of causation, the cause and the effect are placed in time so that the cause precedes its effect temporally. Our normal understanding of causation assumes this feature to such a degree that we intuitively have great difficulty imagining things differently. The notion of backward causation, however, stands for the idea that the temporal order of cause and effect is a mere contingent feature (...) and that there may be cases where the cause is causally prior to its effect but where the temporal order of the cause and effect is reversed with respect to normal causation, i.e. there may be cases where the effect temporally, but not causally, precedes its cause. (shrink)
As the theory of the atom, quantum mechanics is perhaps the most successful theory in the history of science. It enables physicists, chemists, and technicians to calculate and predict the outcome of a vast number of experiments and to create new and advanced technology based on the insight into the behavior of atomic objects. But it is also a theory that challenges our imagination. It seems to violate some fundamental principles of classical physics, principles that eventually have become a part (...) of western common sense since the rise of the modern worldview in the Renaissance. So the aim of any metaphysical interpretation of quantum mechanics is to account for these violations. (shrink)
Interpretation in science has gained little attention in the past because philosophers of science believed that interpretation belongs to the context of discovery or must be associated with meaning. But scientists often speak about interpretation when they report their findings. Elsewhere I have argue in favour of a pragmatic-rhetorical theory of explanation, and it is in light of this theory that I suggest we can understand interpretation in the natural sciences.
Modern cosmology treats space and time, or rather space-time, as concrete particulars. The General Theory of Relativity combines the distribution of matter and energy with the curvature of space-time. Here space-time appears as a concrete entity which affects matter and energy and is affected by the things in it. I question the idea that space-time is a concrete existing entity which both substantivalism and reductive relationism maintain. Instead I propose an alternative view, which may be called non-reductive relationism, by arguing (...) that space and time are abstract entities based on extension and changes. (shrink)
The 2nd International Congress for the Unity of Science was held in Copenhagen from the 21st June to the 26th June 1936. Among the Danish participants was Jørgen Jørgensen, professor of philosophy at the University of Copenhagen and the leading figure of logical positivism in Denmark, and Niels Bohr, the famous physicist, the father of the atomic theory, and the originator of the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. In fact, the event took place in Bohr’s honorary mansion at Carlsberg. Jørgensen (...) was the main organizer of the event in close collaboration with Otto Neurath. The latter had already been in Copenhagen twice, and the second time he had had a chance to meet and discuss with Bohr on epistemological issues. Again in 1936 he and Jørgensen had discussions with Bohr at a time which presented a very important period in Bohr’s thinking because the year before he had been confronted with the EPR-paradox. This final confrontation with Einstein gave Bohr a reason to change parts of his arguments. During this period of time Jørgensen seems to have supported Bohr’s Copenhagen Interpretation whole-heartedly. The purpose of the present talk is to present both Bohr’s and Jørgensen’s philosophy in an attempt of showing to what extent Bohr’s view, as it sometimes has been claimed, is an example of positivistic philosophy within physics. (shrink)
Here I develop the idea, which I have presented elsewhere, that time instants are abstract entities existing tenselessly and therefore that events and changes likewise may be said to exist tenselessly in virtue of their place at a certain space-time point.
Scientific realism is the view that the aim of science is to produce true or approximately true theories about nature. It is a view which not only is shared by many philosophers but also by scientists themselves. Regarding Kuhn’s rejection of scientific progress, Steven Weinberg once declared: “All this is wormwood to scientists like myself, who think the task of science is to bring us closer and closer to objective truth.” But such a realist view on scientific theories is not (...) without problems. The paper discusses some arguments for and against the ontological commitments that scientific theories may entail. The upshot is that scientific realism according to which the semantic content of theories should be understood literally is not sustainable. Instead, it is argued that only realism with respect to entities can be reasonably and practically maintained. Finally, the paper discusses structural realism which presents itself as a modern alternative to scientific realism which may meet both the optimistic no-miracle argument and the pessimistic meta-induction argument. My conclusion is that such a position is neither attractive nor defendable. (shrink)
It is not so long ago that philosophers and scientists thought of science as an objective and value-free enterprise. But since the heyday of positivism, it has become obvious that values, norms, and standards have an indispensable role to play in science. You may even say that these values are the real issues of the philosophy of science. Whatever they are, these values constrain science at an ontological, a cognitive, a methodological, and a semantic level for the purpose of making (...) science a rational pursuit of knowledge. I think, however, that a good place to look for them is in the rise of quantum mechanics and in the debate between Bohr and Einstein on its interpretation, not because similar cognitive values are not shaping scientific rationality elsewhere, but because they surface in the debate whenever a new revolutionary paradigm is about to take over the scene. (shrink)
The semantic view on theories has been much in vogue over four decades as the successor of the syntactic view. In the present paper, I take issue with this approach by arguing that theories and models must be separated and that a theory should be considered to be a linguistic systems consisting of a vocabulary and a set of rules for the use of that vocabulary.
The pragmatic theory of explanation is an attempt to see explanation as a linguistic response to a cognitive problem where the content of the response depends on the context of the scientific inquiry. The present paper draws on the rhetorical situation, as it is defined by Loyld Bitzer, in order to understand how the context may influence the content as well as the acceptability of the response.