David Lewis (1969) introduced sender-receiver games as a way of investigating how meaningful language might evolve from initially random signals. In this report I investigate the conditions under which Lewis signaling games evolve to perfect signaling systems under various learning dynamics. While the 2-state/2- term Lewis signaling game with basic urn learning always approaches a signaling system, I will show that with more than two states suboptimal pooling equilibria can evolve. Inhomogeneous state distributions increase the likelihood of pooling equilibria, but (...) learning strategies with negative reinforcement or certain sorts of mutation can decrease the likelihood of, and even eliminate, pooling equilibria. Both Moran and APR learning strategies (Bereby-Meyer and Erev 1998) are shown to promote successful convergence to signaling systems. A model is presented that illustrates how a language that codes state-act pairs in an order-based grammar might evolve in the context of a Lewis signaling game. The terms, grammar, and the corresponding partitions of the state space co-evolve to generate a language whose structure appears to reflect canonical natural kinds. The evolution of these apparent natural kinds, however, is entirely in service of the rewards that accompany successful distinctions between the sender and receiver. Any metaphysics grounded on the structure of a natural language that evolved in this way would track arbitrary, but pragmatically useful distinctions. (shrink)
A field-theoretic version of Wigner’s friend (1961) illustrates how the quantum measurement problem arises for field theory. Similarly, considering spacelike separate measurements of entangled fields by observers akin to Wigner’s friend shows the sense in which relativistic constraints make the measurement problem particularly difficult to resolve in the context of a relativistic field theory. We will consider proposals by Wigner (1961), Bloch (1967), Helwig and Kraus (1970), and Bell (1984) for resolving the measurement problem for quantum field theory. We will (...) conclude by considering the possibility of giving up rich dynamical explanation in the context of a many-maps formulation of relativistic quantum field theory. (shrink)
α-recursion lifts classical recursion theory from the first transfinite ordinal ω to an arbitrary admissible ordinal α . Idealized computational models for α-recursion analogous to Turing machine models for classical recursion have been proposed and studied  and  and are applicable in computational approaches to the foundations of logic and mathematics . They also provide a natural setting for modeling extensions of the algorithmic logic described in  and . On such models, an α-Turing machine can complete a θ-step (...) computation for any ordinal θ < α. Here we consider constraints on the physical realization of α-Turing machines that arise from the structure of physical spacetime. In particular, we show that an α-Turing machine is realizable in a spacetime constructed from R only if α is countable. While there are spacetimes where uncountable computations are possible and while they may even be empirically distinguishable from a standard spacetime, there is good reason to suppose that such nonstandard spacetimes are nonphysical. We conclude with a suggestion for a revision of Church’s thesis appropriate as an upper bound for physical computation. (shrink)
Insofar as empirical inquiry involves the coevolution of descriptive language and theoretical commitments, a satisfactory model of empirical knowledge should describe the coordinated evolution of both language and theory. But since we do not know what conceptual resources we might need to express our future theories or to provide our best future faithful descriptions of the world, we do not now know even what the space of future descriptive options might be. One strategy for addressing this shifting-resource problem is to (...) track the predictive and linguistic dispositions of inquirers rather than to track their theories and conceptual resources directly. Sender-predictor games, a variant of Skyrms–Lewis sender-receiver games, provide very simple models for the coordinated coevolution of predictive and linguistic dispositions. Such models explain how it is possible for (1) predictive and descriptive dispositions of inquirers to coevolve, (2) term-wise incommensurable, but nevertheless descriptively faithful languages, to sequentially evolve, and (3) a sort of underdetermination to occur where inquirers might satisfy their descriptive and predictive aims by revising their linguistic dispositions, their theoretical dispositions, or both. Such models also provide an elementary characterization of what it might mean for descriptions of the world to be faithful and hence for empirical inquiry to be successful. In doing so they provide a relatively weak, but perfectly clear, endogenous account of epistemic norms. (shrink)
Skyrms-Lewis sender-receiver games with invention allow one to model how a simple mathematical language might be invented and become meaningful as its use coevolves with the basic arithmetic competence of primitive mathematical inquirers. Such models provide sufficient conditions for the invention and evolution of a very basic sort of arithmetic language and practice, and, in doing so, provide insight into the nature of a correspondingly basic sort of mathematical knowledge in an evolutionary context. Given traditional philosophical reflections concerning the nature (...) and preconditions of mathematical knowledge, these conditions are strikingly modest. (shrink)
We are concerned here with explaining how successful rule-following behavior might evolve and how an old evolved rule might come to be successfully used in a new context. Such rule-following behavior is illustrated in the transitive judgments of pinyon and scrub-jays (Bond et al., Anim Behav 65:479–487, 2003). We begin by considering how successful transitive rule-following behavior might evolve in the context of Skyrms–Lewis sender–receiver games (Lewis, Convention. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1969; Skyrms, Philos Sci 75:489–500, 2006). We then consider (...) two ways that an agent might come to use an old evolved rule in a new context. The first involves the agent evolving successful dispositions for one concrete type of experience, then associating a new type of experience with the old evolved dispositions. The second involves the agent evolving dispositions that represent a general inferential schema, then composing these dispositions with others in a way that allows the agent to make inferences concerning a new concrete type of experience. (shrink)
Given Hugh Everett III's understanding of the proper cognitive status of physical theories, his relative-state formulation of pure wave mechanics arguably qualifies as an empirically acceptable physical theory. The argument turns on the precise nature of the relationship that Everett requires between the empirical substructure of an empirically faithful physical theory and experience. On this view, Everett provides a weak resolution to both the determinate record and the probability problems encountered by pure wave mechanics, and does so in a way (...) that avoids unnecessary metaphysical complications. Taking Everett's goal to be showing the empirical faithfulness of the relative-state formulation agrees well with his characterization of his project as one of seeking a model for observation in the correlation structure described by pure wave mechanics and seeking a measure of typicality over this empirical substructure that covaries with our empirically warranted expectations. 1 Pure Wave Mechanics and Relative States2 Everett and Frank3 Everett on the Nature of Physical Theories4 Conditions for Empirical Faithfulness5 The Empirical Faithfulness of Pure Wave Mechanics6 Conclusion. (shrink)
Skyrms-Lewis signaling games illustrate how meaningful language may evolve from initially meaningless random signals (Lewis, Convention 1969; Skyrms 2008). Here we will consider how incommensurable languages might evolve in the context of signaling games. We will also consider the types of incommensurability exhibited between evolved languages in such games. We will find that sequentially evolved languages may be strongly incommensurable while still allowing for increasingly faithful descriptions of the world.
Signaling games with reinforcement learning have been used to model the evolution of term languages (Lewis 1969, Convention. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Skyrms 2006, “Signals” Presidential Address. Philosophy of Science Association for PSA). In this article, syntactic games, extensions of David Lewis’s original sender–receiver game, are used to illustrate how a language that exploits available syntactic structure might evolve to code for states of the world. The evolution of a language occurs in the context of available vocabulary and syntax—the (...) role played by each component is compared in the context of simple reinforcement learning. (shrink)
We develop a functional abstraction principle for the type-free algorithmic logic introduced in our earlier work. Our approach is based on the standard combinators but is supplemented by the novel use of evaluation trees. Then we show that the abstraction principle leads to a Curry fixed point, a statement C that asserts C ⇒ A where A is any given statement. When A is false, such a C yields a paradoxical situation. As discussed in our earlier work, this situation leaves (...) one no choice but to restrict the use of a certain class of implicational rules including modus ponens. (shrink)
There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories, quantum mechanics and special relativity, are false if taken together and literally. If they are in fact false, then how should they count as providing knowledge of the physical world? One might imagine that, while strictly false, our best physical theories are nevertheless in some sense probably approximately true. This paper presents a notion of local probable approximate truth in terms of descriptive nesting relations between current and subsequent theories. (...) This notion helps explain how false physical theories might nevertheless provide physical knowledge of a variety that is particularly salient to diachronic empirical inquiry. (shrink)
There is significant interest in type-free systems that allow flexible self-application. Such systems are of interest in property theory, natural language semantics, the theory of truth, theoretical computer science, the theory of classes, and category theory. While there are a variety of proposed type-free systems, there is a particularly natural type-free system that we believe is prototypical: the logic of recursive algorithms. Algorithmic logic is the study of basic statements concerning algorithms and the algorithmic rules of inference between such statements. (...) As shown in , the threat of paradoxes, such as the Curry paradox, requires care in implementing rules of inference in this context. As in any type-free logic, some traditional rules will fail. The first part of the paper develops a rich collection of inference rules that do not lead to paradox. The second part identifies traditional rules of logic that are paradoxical in algorithmic logic, and so should be viewed with suspicion in type-free logic generally. (shrink)
Lewis sender‐receiver games illustrate how a meaningful term language might evolve from initially meaningless random signals (Lewis 1969; Skyrms 2006). Here we consider how a meaningful language with a primitive grammar might evolve in a somewhat more subtle sort of game. The evolution of such a language involves the co‐evolution of partitions of the physical world into what may seem, at least from the perspective of someone using the language, to correspond to canonical natural kinds. While the evolved language may (...) allow for the sort of precise representation that is required for successful coordinated action and prediction, the apparent natural kinds reflected in its structure may be purely conventional. This has both positive and negative implications for the limits of naturalized metaphysics. (shrink)
I argue that a strong mind–body dualism is required of any formulation of quantum mechanics that satisfies a relatively weak set of explanatory constraints. Dropping one or more of these constraints may allow one to avoid the commitment to a mind–body dualism but may also require a commitment to a physical–physical dualism that is at least as objectionable. Ultimately, it is the preferred basis problem that pushes both collapse and no-collapse theories in the direction of a strong dualism in resolving (...) the quantum measurement problem. Addressing this problem illustrates how the construction and evaluation of explanatorily rich physical theories are inextricably tied to the evaluation of traditional philosophical issues. (shrink)
argued that there are two options for what he called a realistic solution to the quantum measurement problem: (1) select a preferred set of observables for which definite values are assumed to exist, or (2) attempt to assign definite values to all observables simultaneously (1810–1). While conventional wisdom has it that the second option is ruled out by the Kochen-Specker theorem, Vink nevertheless advocated it. Making every physical quantity determinate in quantum mechanics carries with it significant conceptual costs, but it (...) also provides a way of addressing the preferred basis problem that arises if one chooses to pursue the first option. The potential costs and benefits of a formulation of quantum mechanics where every physical quantity is determinate are herein examined. The preferred-basis problem How to solve the preferred-basis problem Relativistic constraints Conclusion. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the possibility and nature of relativistic hidden-variable formulations of quantum mechanics. Both ad hoc teleological constructions of spacetime maps and frame-dependent constructions of spacetime maps are considered. While frame-dependent constructions are clearly preferable, they provide neither mechanical nor causal explanations for local quantum events. Rather, the hiddenvariable dynamics used in such constructions is just a rule that helps to characterize the set of all possible spacetime maps. But while having neither mechanical nor causal explanations of (...) the values of quantummechanical measurement records is a signiﬁcant cost, it may simply prove too much to ask for such explanations in relativistic quantum mechanics. (shrink)
There are theoretical limitations to what can be implemented by a computer program. In this paper we are concerned with a limitation on the strength of computer implemented deduction. We use a version of the Curry paradox to arrive at this limitation.
There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories are false: In addition to its own internal problems, the standard formulation of quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with special relativity. I will also argue that we have no concrete idea what it means to claim that these theories are approximately true.
Pulier (2000, Theory and Decision 49: 291) and Machina (2000, Theory and Decision 49: 293) seek to dissolve the BarrettâArntzenius infinite decision puzzle (1999, Theory and Decision 46: 101). The proposed dissolutions, however, are based on misunderstandings concerning how the puzzle works and the nature of supertasks more generally. We will describe the puzzle in a simplified form, address the recent misunderstandings, and describe possible morals for decision theory.
Abstract: C. S. Peirce's psychological analysis of belief, doubt, and inquiry provides insights into the nature of scientific knowledge. These in turn can be used to construct an account of scientific knowledge where the notions of belief, truth, rational justification, and inquiry are determined by the relationships that must hold between these notions. I will describe this account of scientific knowledge and some of the problems it faces. I will also describe the close relationship between pragmatic and naturalized accounts of (...) scientific knowledge. (shrink)
A resolution of the quantum measurement problem would require one to explain how it is that we end up with determinate records at the end of our measurements. Metaphysical commitments typically do real work in such an explanation. Indeed, one should not be satisfied with one's metaphysical commitments unless one can provide some account of determinate measurement records. I will explain some of the problems in getting determinate records in relativistic quantum field theory and pay particular attention to the relationship (...) between the measurement problem and a generalized version of Malament's theorem. (shrink)
In this paper I describe the history of the surreal trajectories problem and argue that in fact it is not a problem for Bohm's theory. More specifically, I argue that one can take the particle trajectories predicted by Bohm's theory to be the actual trajectories that particles follow and that there is no reason to suppose that good particle detectors are somehow fooled in the context of the surreal trajectories experiments. Rather than showing that Bohm's theory predicts the wrong particle (...) trajectories or that it somehow prevents one from making reliable measurements, such experiments ultimately reveal the special role played by position and the fundamental incompatibility between Bohm's theory and relativity. They also provide a striking example of the theory-ladenness of observation. (shrink)
Everett wanted a formulation of quantum mechanics that (i) took the linear dynamics to be a complete and accurate description of the time-evolution of all physical systems and (ii) logically entailed the same subjective appearances predicted by the standard formulation of quantum mechanics. While most everyone would agree with this description of Everett's project, there is little agreement on exactly how his relative-state formulation was supposed to work. In this paper, I consider two very different readings of Everett: the bare (...) reading and the splitting-worlds reading. What distinguishes these is their interpretation of the wave function and how one accounts for the experiences of observers. The difficulty in interpreting Everett, however, is illustrated by the fact that neither reading is entirely compatible with his own description of his project. (shrink)
Quantum mechanics without the collapse postulate, the bare theory, was proposed by Albert (1992) as a way of understanding Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics. The basic idea is to try to account for an observer's beliefs by appealing to a type of illusion predicted by the bare theory. This paper responds to some recent objections to the bare theory by providing a more detailed description of the sense in which it can and the sense in which it cannot account (...) for our experience. (shrink)
In order to judge whether a theory is empirically adequate one must have epistemic access to reliable records of past measurement results that can be compared against the predictions of the theory. Some formulations of quantum mechanics fail to satisfy this condition. The standard theory without the collapse postulate is an example. Bell's reading of Everett's relative-state formulation is another. Furthermore, there are formulations of quantum mechanics that only satisfy this condition for a special class of observers, formulations whose empirical (...) adequacy could only be judged by an observer who records her measurement results in a special way. Bohm's theory is an example. It is possible to formulate hidden-variable theories that do not suffer from such a restriction, but these encounter other problems. (shrink)
In order for Bayesian inquiry to count as objective, one might argue that it must lead to a consensus among those who use it and share evidence, but presumably this is not enough. It has been proposed that one should also require that the consensus be reached from very different initial opinions by conditioning only on basic experimental evidence, evidence free from subjective, social, or psychological influence. I will argue here, however, that this notion of objectivity in Bayesian inquiry is (...) too narrow. (shrink)
A many-worlds interpretation is of quantum mechanics tells us that the linear equations of motion are the true and complete laws for the time-evolution of every physical system and that the usual quantum-mechanical states provide complete descriptions of all possible physical situations. Such an interpretation, however, denies the standard way of understanding quantum-mechanical states. When the pointer on a measuring device is in a superposition of pointing many different directions, for example, we are to understand this as many pointers, each (...) in a differentworld, each pointing in a different determinate direction. We ask here whether such talk makes any genuinely intelligible sense of the term world. We conclude that it does not. (shrink)
On Bohm''s formulation of quantum mechanics particles always have determinate positions and follow continuous trajectories. Bohm''s theory, however, requires a postulate that says that particles are initially distributed in a special way: particles are randomly distributed so that the probability of their positions being represented by a point in any regionR in configuration space is equal to the square of the wave-function integrated overR. If the distribution postulate were false, then the theory would generally fail to make the right statistical (...) predictions. Further, if it were false, then there would at least in principle be situations where a particle would approach an eigenstate of having one position but in fact always be somewhere very different. Indeed, we will see how this might happen even if the distribution postulate were true. This will help to show how loose the connection is between the wave-function and the positions of particles in Bohm''s theory and what the precise role of the distribution postulate is. Finally, we will briefly consider two attempts to formulate a version of Bohm''s theory without the distribution postulate. (shrink)
There is a long tradition of trying to find a satisfactory interpretation of Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics. Albert and Loewer recently described two new ways of reading Everett: one we will call the single-mind theory and the other the many-minds theory. I will briefly describe these theories and present some of their merits and problems. Since both are no-collapse theories, a significant merit is that they can take advantage of certain properties of the linear dynamics, which Everett (...) apparently considered to be important, to constrain their statistical laws. (shrink)
Everett proposed resolving the quantum measurement problem by dropping the nonlinear collapse dynamics from quantum mechanics and taking what is left as a complete physical theory. If one takes such a proposal seriously, then the question becomes how much of the predictive and explanatory power of the standard theory can one recover without the collapse postulate and without adding anything else. Quantum mechanics without the collapse postulate has several suggestive properties, which we will consider in some detail. While these properties (...) are not enough to make it acceptable given the usual standards for a satisfactory physical theory, one might want to exploit these properties to cook up a satisfactory no-collapse formulation of quantum mechanics. In considering how this might work, we will see why any no-collapse theory must generally fail to satisfy at least one of two plausible-sounding conditions. (shrink)