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Profile: Mathias Frisch (University of Maryland, College Park)
  1. Mathias Frisch, Laws in Physics.
    What are laws of nature? During much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Newton’s laws of motion were taken to be the paradigm of scientific laws thought to constitute universal and necessary eternal truths. But since the turn of the twentieth century we know that Newton’s laws are not universally valid. Does this mean that their status as laws of physics has changed? Have we discovered that the principles, which were once thought to be laws of nature, are not in (...)
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  2. Mathias Frisch (forthcoming). Philosophical Issues in Classical Electrodynamics. Philosophy Compass.
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  3. Mathias Frisch (2014). Models and Scientific Representations Or: Who is Afraid of Inconsistency? Synthese 191 (13):3027-3040.
    I argue that if we make explicit the role of the user of scientific representations not only in the application but also in the construction of a model or representation, then inconsistent modeling assumptions do not pose an insurmountable obstacle to our representational practices.
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  4. Mathias Frisch (2014). Physics and the Human Face of Causation. Topoi 33 (2):407-419.
    Many contemporary philosophers of physics (and philosophers of science more generally) follow Bertrand Russell in arguing that there is no room for causal notions in physics. Causation, as James Woodward has put it, has a ‘human face’, which makes causal notions sit ill with fundamental theories of physics. In this paper I examine a range of anti-causal arguments and show that the human face of causation is the face of scientific representations much more generally. Physics, like other sciences, is deeply (...)
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  5. Mathias Frisch (2013). Conceptual Problems in Classical Electrodynamics: No More Toils and Trouble? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (4):527-531.
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  6. Mathias Frisch (2013). Modeling Climate Policies: A Critical Look at Integrated Assessment Models. Philosophy and Technology 26 (2):117-137.
    Climate change presents us with a problem of intergenerational justice. While any costs associated with climate change mitigation measures will have to be borne by the world’s present generation, the main beneficiaries of mitigation measures will be future generations. This raises the question to what extent present generations have a responsibility to shoulder these costs. One influential approach for addressing this question is to appeal to neo-classical economic cost–benefit analyses and so-called economy-climate “integrated assessment models” to determine what course of (...)
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  7. Luke Glynn, Radin Dardashti, Karim P. Y. Thébault & Mathias Frisch, Unsharp Humean Chances in Statistical Physics: A Reply to Beisbart.
    In an illuminating article, Claus Beisbart argues that the recently-popular thesis that the probabilities of statistical mechanics (SM) are Best System chances runs into a serious obstacle: there is no one axiomatization of SM that is robustly best, as judged by the theoretical virtues of simplicity, strength, and fit. Beisbart takes this 'no clear winner' result to imply that the probabilities yielded by the competing axiomatizations simply fail to count as Best System chances. In this reply, we express sympathy for (...)
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  8. Mathias Frisch (2012). Climate Change Justice. Philosophy and Public Affairs 40 (3):225-253.
     
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  9. Mathias Frisch (2012). No Place for Causes? Causal Skepticism in Physics. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):313-336.
    According to a widespread view, which can be traced back to Russell’s famous attack on the notion of cause, causal notions have no legitimate role to play in how mature physical theories represent the world. In this paper I first critically examine a number of arguments for this view that center on the asymmetry of the causal relation and argue that none of them succeed. I then argue that embedding the dynamical models of a theory into richer causal structures can (...)
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  10. Mathias Frisch (2011). From Arbuthnot to Boltzmann: The Past Hypothesis, the Best System, and the Special Sciences. Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1001-1011.
    In recent work on the foundations of statistical mechanics and the arrow of time, Barry Loewer and David Albert have developed a view that defends both a best system account of laws and a physicalist fundamentalism. I argue that there is a tension between their account of laws, which emphasizes the pragmatic element in assessing the relative strength of different deductive systems, and their reductivism or funda- mentalism. If we take the pragmatic dimension in their account seriously, then the laws (...)
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  11. Mathias Frisch (2011). Of Modern Physics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42:176-183.
  12. Mathias Frisch (2011). Principle or Constructive Relativity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 42 (3):176-183.
    I examine Harvey Brown’s account of relativity as dynamic and constructive theory and Michel Janssen recent criticism of it. By contrasting Einstein’s principle-constructive distinction with a related distinction by Lorentz, I argue that Einstein's distinction presents a false dichotomy. Appealing to Lorentz’s distinction, I argue that there is less of a disagreement between Brown and Janssen than appears initially and, hence, that Brown’s view presents less of a departure from orthodoxy than it may seem. Neither the kinematics-dynamics distinction nor Einstein’s (...)
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  13. Mathias Frisch (2010). Causal Models and the Asymmetry of State Preparation. In Mauricio Suarez, Mauro Dorato & Miklos Redei (eds.), Epsa Philosophical Issues in the Sciences. Springer. 75--85.
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  14. Mathias Frisch (2010). Does a Low-Entropy Constraint Prevent Us From Influencing the Past? In Andreas Hüttemann & Gerhard Ernst (eds.), Time, Chance, and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press. 13--33.
    David Albert (2000) and Barry Loewer (2007) have argued that the temporal asymmetry of our concept of causal influence or control is grounded in the statistical mechanical assumption of a low-entropy past. In this paper I critically examine Albert's and Loewer's accounts.
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  15. Mathias Frisch (2010). Causes, Counterfactuals, and Non-Locality. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):655-672.
    In order to motivate the thesis that there is no single concept of causation that can do justice to all of our core intuitions concerning that concept, Ned Hall has argued that there is a conflict between a counterfactual criterion of causation and the condition of causal locality. In this paper I critically examine Hall's argument within the context of a more general discussion of the role of locality constraints in a causal conception of the world. I present two strategies (...)
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  16. Mathias Frisch (2009). Causality and Dispersion: A Reply to John Norton. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):487 - 495.
    Classical dispersion relations are derived from a time-asymmetric constraint. I argue that the standard causal interpretation of this constraint plays a scientifically legitimate role in dispersion theory, and hence provides a counterexample to the causal skepticism advanced by John Norton and others. Norton ([2009]) argues that the causal interpretation of the time-asymmetric constraint is an empty honorific and that the constraint can be motivated by purely non-causal considerations. In this paper I respond to Norton's criticisms and argue that Norton's skepticism (...)
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  17. Mathias Frisch (2009). Philosophical Issues in Electromagnetism. Philosophy Compass 4 (1):255-270.
    This paper provides a survey of several philosophical issues arising in classical electrodynamics arguing that there is a philosophically rich set of problems in theories of classical physics that have not yet received the attention by philosophers that they deserve. One issue, which is connected to the philosophy of causation, concerns the temporal asymmetry exhibited by radiation fields in the presence of wave sources. Physicists and philosophers disagree on whether this asymmetry reflects a fundamental causal asymmetry or is due to (...)
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  18. Mathias Frisch (2009). Review of Stephan Hartmann, Carl Hoefer, Luc Bovens (Eds.), Nancy Cartwright's Philosophy of Science. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (3).
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  19. Mathias Frisch (2009). 'The Most Sacred Tenet'? Causal Reasoning in Physics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):459-474.
    According to a view widely held among philosophers of science, the notion of cause has no legitimate role to play in mature theories of physics. In this paper I investigate the role of what physicists themselves identify as causal principles in the derivation of dispersion relations. I argue that this case study constitutes a counterexample to the popular view and that causal principles can function as genuine factual constraints. IntroductionCausality and Dispersion RelationsNorton's SkepticismConclusion.
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  20. Mathias Frisch (2008). Conceptual Problems in Classical Electrodynamics. Philosophy of Science 75 (1):93-105.
    In Frisch 2004 and 2005 I showed that the standard ways of modeling particle-field interactions in classical electrodynamics, which exclude the interactions of a particle with its own field, results in a formal inconsistency, and I argued that attempts to include the self-field lead to numerous conceptual problems. In this paper I respond to criticism of my account in Belot 2007 and Muller 2007. I concede that this inconsistency in itself is less telling than I suggested earlier but argue that (...)
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  21. Mathias Frisch (2007). Causation, Counterfactuals, and Entropy. In Huw Price & Richard Corry (eds.), Causation, Physics, and the Constitution of Reality: Russell's Republic Revisited. Oxford University Press.
     
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  22. Mathias Frisch, Causal Reasoning in Physics.
    In this paper I examine several neo-Russellian arguments for the claim that there is no room for an asymmetric notion of cause in mature physical theories. I argue that these arguments are unsuccessful and discuss an example where an asymmetric causal condition plays an important role in the derivation of a physical law.
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  23. Mathias Frisch, Discussion Note: Conceptual Problems in Classical Electrodynamics.
    I have argued that the standard ways of modeling classical particle-field interactions rely on a set of inconsistent assumptions. This claim has been criticized in (Muller forthcoming). In this paper I respond to some of Muller's criticism.
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  24. Mathias Frisch (2006). A Tale of Two Arrows. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 37 (3):542-558.
    In this paper I propose a reasonably sharp formulation of the temporal asymmetry of radiation. I criticize accounts that propose to derive the asymmetry from a low-entropy assumption characterizing the state of the early universe and argue that these accounts fail, since they presuppose the very asymmetry they are intended to derive. r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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  25. Mathias Frisch (2006). Causal Asymmetry, Counterfactual Decisions and Entropy. In Borchert (ed.), Philosophy of Science. Macmillan. 72--5.
     
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  26. Mathias Frisch (2005). Inconsistency, Asymmetry, and Non-Locality: A Philosophical Investigation of Classical Electrodynamics. Oxford University Press.
    Mathias Frisch provides the first sustained philosophical discussion of conceptual problems in classical particle-field theories. Part of the book focuses on the problem of a satisfactory equation of motion for charged particles interacting with electromagnetic fields. As Frisch shows, the standard equation of motion results in a mathematically inconsistent theory, yet there is no fully consistent and conceptually unproblematic alternative theory. Frisch describes in detail how the search for a fundamental equation of motion is partly driven by pragmatic considerations (like (...)
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  27. Mathias Frisch (2005). Mechanisms, Principles, and Lorentz's Cautious Realism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 36 (4):659-679.
    I show that Albert Einstein’s distinction between principle and constructive theories was predated by Hendrik A. Lorentz’s equivalent distinction between mechanism- and principle-theories. I further argue that Lorentz’s views toward realism similarly prefigure what Arthur Fine identified as Einstein’s ‘‘motivational realism.’’ r 2005 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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  28. Mathias Frisch (2005). Counterfactuals and the Past Hypothesis. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):739-750.
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  29. Marcel Weber, Warren Schmaus, Heather A. Jamniczky, Gry Oftedal, Robert C. Bishop, Axel Gelfert, Mathias Frisch, Daniel Parker, Mario Castagnino & Olimpia Lombardi (2005). 1. Preface Preface (Pp. I-Ii). Philosophy of Science 72 (5).
     
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  30. Michael Dickson, Don Howard, Scott Tanona, Mathias Frisch, Eric Winsberg, Arnold Koslow, Paul Teller, Ronald N. Giere, Mary S. Morgan & Mauricio Suárez (2004). 1. Preface Preface (P. Vii). Philosophy of Science 71 (5).
     
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  31. Mathias Frisch (2004). Inconsistency in Classical Electrodynamics. Philosophy of Science 71 (4):525-549.
    I show that the standard approach to modeling phenomena involving microscopic classical electrodynamics is mathematically inconsistent. I argue that there is no conceptually unproblematic and consistent theory covering the same phenomena to which this inconsistent theory can be thought of as an approximation; and I propose a set of conditions for the acceptability of inconsistent theories.
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  32. Mathias Frisch (2004). Laws and Initial Conditions. Philosophy of Science 71 (5):696-706.
    I discuss two case studies from classical electrodynamics challenging the distinction between laws that delineate physically possible words and initial conditions. First, for many reasonable initial conditions there exist no global solutions to the Maxwell‐Lorentz equations for continuous charge distributions. Second, in deriving an equation of motion for a charged point particle one needs to invoke an asymptotic condition that seems to express a physically contingent fact even though it is mathematically necessary for the derivation.
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  33. Paul Teller, Stefano Gattei, Kent W. Staley, Eric Winsberg, James Hawthorne, Branden Fitelson, Patrick Maher, Peter Achinstein & Mathias Frisch (2004). 10. Selection, Drift, and the “Forces” of Evolution Selection, Drift, and the “Forces” of Evolution (Pp. 550-570). Philosophy of Science 71 (4).
     
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  34. Mathias Frisch (2002). Non-Locality in Classical Electrodynamics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (1):1-19.
    in Dirac's classical theory of the electron—is causally non-local. I distinguish two distinct causal locality principles and argue, using Dirac's theory as my main case study, that neither can be reduced to a non-causal principle of local determinism.
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  35. Eric Winsberg, Mathias Frisch, Karen Merikangas Darling & Arthur Fine (2000). The Dappled World. Journal of Philosophy 97 (7):403-408.
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  36. Mathias Frisch (1999). Van Fraassen's Dissolution of Putnam's Model-Theoretic Argument. Philosophy of Science 66 (1):158-164.
    Bas van Fraassen has recently argued for a "dissolution" of Hilary Putnam's well-known model-theoretic argument. In this paper I argue that, as it stands, van Fraassen's reply to Putnam is unsuccessful. Nonetheless, it suggests the form a successful response might take.
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