111 found
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  1.  30
    Andrea Oldofredi, Dustin Lazarovici, Dirk-André Deckert & Michael Esfeld, From the Universe to Subsystems: Why Quantum Mechanics Appears More Stochastic Than Classical Mechanics.
    By means of the examples of classical and Bohmian quantum mechanics, we illustrate the well-known ideas of Boltzmann as to how one gets from laws defined for the universe as a whole to dynamical relations describing the evolution of subsystems. We explain how probabilities enter into this process, what quantum and classical probabilities have in common and where exactly their difference lies.
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  2. Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam (2006). Moderate Structural Realism About Space-Time. Synthese 160 (1):27 - 46.
    This paper sets out a moderate version of metaphysical structural realism that stands in contrast to both the epistemic structural realism of Worrall and the—radical—ontic structural realism of French and Ladyman. According to moderate structural realism, objects and relations (structure) are on the same ontological footing, with the objects being characterized only by the relations in which they stand. We show how this position fares well as regards philosophical arguments, avoiding the objections against the other two versions of (...)
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  3. Michael Esfeld (2004). Quantum Entanglement and a Metaphysics of Relations. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 35 (4):601-617.
    This paper argues for a metaphysics of relations based on a characterization of quantum entanglement in terms of non-separability, thereby regarding entanglement as a sort of holism. By contrast to a radical metaphysics of relations, the position set out in this paper recognizes things that stand in the relations, but claims that, as far as the relations are concerned, there is no need for these things to have qualitative intrinsic properties underlying the relations. This position thus opposes a metaphysics of (...)
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  4. Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam (2011). Ontic Structural Realism as a Metaphysics of Objects. In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media 143-159.
    The paper spells out five different accounts of the relationship between objects and relations three of which are versions of ontic structural realism. We argue that the distinction between objects and properties, including relations, is merely a conceptual one by contrast to an ontological one: properties, including relations, are modes, that is the concrete, particular ways in which objects exist. We then set out moderate OSR as the view according to which irreducible relations are central ways in which the fundamental (...)
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  5.  87
    Mauro Dorato & Michael Esfeld (2010). GRW as an Ontology of Dispositions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (1):41-49.
    The paper argues that the formulation of quantum mechanics proposed by Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber (GRW) is a serious candidate for being a fundamental physical theory and explores its ontological commitments from this perspective. In particular, we propose to conceive of spatial superpositions of non-massless microsystems as dispositions or powers, more precisely propensities, to generate spontaneous localizations. We set out five reasons for this view, namely that (1) it provides for a clear sense in which quantum systems in entangled states (...)
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  6. Michael Esfeld (2013). Ontic Structural Realism and the Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (1):19-32.
    This paper argues that ontic structural realism (OSR) faces a dilemma: either it remains on the general level of realism with respect to the structure of a given theory, but then it is, like epistemic structural realism, only a partial realism; or it is a complete realism, but then it has to answer the question how the structure of a given theory is implemented, instantiated or realized and thus has to argue for a particular interpretation of the theory in question. (...)
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  7.  13
    Michael Esfeld, Dustin Lazarovici, Vincent Lam & Mario Hubert (forthcoming). The Physics and Metaphysics of Primitive Stuff. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv026.
    The article sets out a primitive ontology of the natural world in terms of primitive stuff—that is, stuff that has as such no physical properties at all—but that is not a bare substratum either, being individuated by metrical relations. We focus on quantum physics and employ identity-based Bohmian mechanics to illustrate this view, but point out that it applies all over physics. Properties then enter into the picture exclusively through the role that they play for the dynamics of the primitive (...)
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  8. Michael Esfeld (2009). The Modal Nature of Structures in Ontic Structural Realism. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):179 – 194.
    Ontic structural realism is the view that structures are what is real in the first place in the domain of fundamental physics. The structures are usually conceived as including a primitive modality. However, it has not been spelled out as yet what exactly that modality amounts to. This paper proposes to fill this lacuna by arguing that the fundamental physical structures possess a causal essence, being powers. Applying the debate about causal vs categorical properties in analytic metaphysics to ontic structural (...)
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  9.  78
    Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld (2012). The Structural Metaphysics of Quantum Theory and General Relativity. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (2):243-258.
    The paper compares ontic structural realism in quantum physics with ontic structural realism about space–time. We contend that both quantum theory and general relativity theory support a common, contentful metaphysics of ontic structural realism. After recalling the main claim of ontic structural realism and its physical support, we point out that both in the domain of quantum theory and in the domain of general relativity theory, there are objects whose essential ways of being are certain relations so that these objects (...)
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  10.  44
    Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld (2013). A Dilemma for the Emergence of Spacetime in Canonical Quantum Gravity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):286-293.
    The procedures of canonical quantization of the gravitational field apparently lead to entities for which any interpretation in terms of spatio-temporal localization or spatio-temporal extension seems difficult. This fact is the main ground for the suggestion that can often be found in the physics literature on canonical quantum gravity according to which spacetime may not be fundamental in some sense. This paper aims to investigate this radical suggestion from an ontologically serious point of view in the cases of two standard (...)
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  11.  28
    Michael Esfeld, Dirk-André Deckert & Andrea Oldofredi, What is Matter? The Fundamental Ontology of Atomism and Structural Realism.
    We set out a fundamental ontology of atomism in terms of matter points. While being most parsimonious, this ontology is able to match both classical and quantum mechanics, and it remains a viable option for any future theory of cosmology that goes beyond current quantum physics. The matter points are structurally individuated: all there is to them are the spatial relations in which they stand; neither a commitment to intrinsic properties nor to an absolute space is required. The spatial relations (...)
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  12. Michael Esfeld, Quantum Physics, Causation, and the Grw Dynamics.
    The paper makes a case for there being causation in the form of causal properties in the domain of fundamental physics. That case is built on an interpretation of quantum theory in terms of state reductions so that there really are both entangled states and classical properties (although that case does not necessarily depend on such an interpretation). GRW is the most elaborate physical proposal for such an interpretation. I show how this interpretation suggests a commitment to entangled states being (...)
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  13. Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld (2014). A Proposal for a Bohmian Ontology of Quantum Gravity. Foundations of Physics (1):1-18.
    The paper shows how the Bohmian approach to quantum physics can be applied to develop a clear and coherent ontology of non-perturbative quantum gravity. We suggest retaining discrete objects as the primitive ontology also when it comes to a quantum theory of space-time and therefore focus on loop quantum gravity. We conceive atoms of space, represented in terms of nodes linked by edges in a graph, as the primitive ontology of the theory and show how a non-local law in which (...)
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  14. Michael Esfeld, The Rehabilitation of a Metaphysics of Nature.
    The paper first sketches out a reply to the underdetermination challenge and the incommensurability challenge that rebuts the sceptical conclusions of these challenges and that is sufficient to lay the ground for the project of a metaphysics of nature. That metaphysics is as hypothetical as are our scientific theories. The paper then explains how can one can argue for certain views in the metaphysics of nature based on our current fundamental physical theories, namely a tenseless theory of time and existence (...)
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  15.  15
    Michael Esfeld & Nicolas Gisin (2014). The GRW Flash Theory: A Relativistic Quantum Ontology of Matter in Space-Time? Philosophy of Science 81 (2):248-264.
    John Bell proposed an ontology for the GRW modification of quantum mechanics in terms of flashes occurring at space- time points. This article spells out the motivation for this ontology, inquires into the status of the wave function in it, critically examines the claim of its being Lorentz invariant, and considers whether it is a parsimonious but nevertheless physically adequate ontology.
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  16.  2
    Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam (2008). Moderate Structural Realism About Space-Time. Synthese 160 (1):27-46.
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  17. Michael Esfeld (2001). Holism in Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Physics.
     
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  18. Michael Esfeld (2003). Do Relations Require Underlying Intrinsic Properties? A Physical Argument for a Metaphysics of Relations. Metaphysica: International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics 4 (1):5-25.
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  19. Michael Esfeld & Christian Sachse (2007). Theory Reduction by Means of Functional Sub-Types. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):1 – 17.
    The paper sets out a new strategy for theory reduction by means of functional sub-types. This strategy is intended to get around the multiple realization objection. We use Kim's argument for token identity (ontological reductionism) based on the causal exclusion problem as starting point. We then extend ontological reductionism to epistemological reductionism (theory reduction). We show how one can distinguish within any functional type between functional sub-types. Each of these sub-types is coextensive with one type of realizer. By this means, (...)
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  20. Michael Esfeld (2010). Causal Overdetermination for Humeans? Metaphysica 11 (2):99-104.
    The paper argues against systematic overdetermination being an acceptable solution to the problem of mental causation within a Humean counterfactual theory of causation. The truth-makers of the counterfactuals in question include laws of nature, and there are laws that support physical to physical counterfactuals, but no laws in the same sense that support mental to physical counterfactuals.
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  21.  47
    Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld (2015). On the Importance of Interpretation in Quantum Physics: A Reply to Elise Crull. Foundations of Physics 45 (12):1533-1536.
    Elise Crull claims that by invoking decoherence it is possible to obviate many “fine grained” issues often conflated under the common designation of measurement problem, and to make substantial progresses in the fields of quantum gravity and quantum cosmology, without any early incorporation of a particular interpretation in the quantum formalism. We point out that Crull is mistaken about decoherence and tacitly assumes some kind of interpretation of the quantum formalism.
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  22.  14
    Michael Esfeld (2015). The Structure of the World: Metaphysics and Representation, by Steven French. Mind 124 (493):334-338.
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  23. Michael Esfeld (2008). Naturphilosophie Als Metaphysik der Natur. Suhrkamp.
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  24.  35
    Michael Esfeld (2014). The Primitive Ontology of Quantum Physics: Guidelines for an Assessment of the Proposals. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 47:99-106.
    The paper seeks to make progress from stating primitive ontology theories of quantum physics – notably Bohmian mechanics, the GRW matter density theory and the GRW flash theory – to assessing these theories. Four criteria are set out: internal coherence; empirical adequacy; relationship to other theories; explanatory value. The paper argues that the stock objections against these theories do not withstand scrutiny. Its focus then is on their explanatory value: they pursue different strategies to ground the textbook formalism of quantum (...)
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  25. Michael Esfeld (2010). Humean Metaphysics Versus a Metaphysics of Powers. In Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press 119.
  26. Michael Esfeld (2010). Physics and Causation. Foundations of Physics 40 (9-10):1597-1610.
    The paper makes a case for there being causation in the form of causal properties or causal structures in the domain of fundamental physics. That case is built in the first place on an interpretation of quantum theory in terms of state reductions so that there really are both entangled states and classical properties, GRW being the most elaborate physical proposal for such an interpretation. I then argue that the interpretation that goes back to Everett can also be read in (...)
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  27. Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld, Structures as the Objects of Fundamental Physics.
    The paper argues that there are structures rather than objects with an intrinsic identity in the domain of fundamental physics. We line out the standard metaphysics of objects with an intrinsic identity, recall the main objection against that position (section 1) and then retrace the development to epistemic structural realism (section 2) and to ontic structural realism (section 3). We elaborate on the arguments for ontic structural realism from quantum physics (section 4) and from space-time physics (section 5). Finally, we (...)
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  28. Michael Esfeld & Christian Sachse (2011). Conservative Reductionism. Routledge.
    The dilemma of functionalism -- The metaphysics of causal structures -- The theory of evolution and causal structures in biology -- Case study: classical and molecular genetics -- Conservative functional reduction.
     
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  29.  19
    Matthias Egg & Michael Esfeld (2014). Non-Local Common Cause Explanations for EPR. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4 (2):181-196.
    The paper argues that a causal explanation of the correlated outcomes of EPR-type experiments is desirable and possible. It shows how Bohmian mechanics and the GRW mass density theory offer such an explanation in terms of a non-local common cause.
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  30.  48
    Mauro Dorato & Michael Esfeld (forthcoming). The Metaphysics of Laws: Dispositionalism Vs. Primitivism. In T. Bigaj & C. Wutrich (eds.), Metaphysics and Science. Poznan Studies
    The paper compares dispositionalism about laws of nature with primitivism. It argues that while the distinction between these two positions can be drawn in a clear-cut manner in classical mechanics, it is less clear in quantum mechanics, due to quantum non-locality. Nonetheless, the paper points out advantages for dispositionalism in comparison to primitivism also in the area of quantum mechanics, and of contemporary physics in general.
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  31.  65
    Michael Esfeld (2011). Causal Properties and Conservative Reduction. Philosophia Naturalis 47 (1):9-31.
    The paper argues in favour of a causal-functional theory of all properties including the physical ones and a conception of properties as tropes or modes in the sense of particular ways that objects are. It shows how these premises open up a version of functionalism according to which the properties on which the special sciences focus are identical with configurations of physical properties and thereby causally efficacious without there being any threat of eliminativism.
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  32. Michael Esfeld (2007). Mental Causation and the Metaphysics of Causation. Erkenntnis 67 (2):207 - 220.
    The paper argues for four claims: (1) The problem of mental causation and the argument for its solution in terms of the identity of mental with physical causes are independent of the theory of causation one favours. (2) If one considers our experience of agency as described by folk psychology to be veridical, one is committed to an anti-Humean metaphysics of causation in terms of powers that establish necessary connections. The same goes for functional properties in general. (3) A metaphysics (...)
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  33.  58
    Christian Sachse & Michael Esfeld (2007). Theory Reduction by Means of Functional Sub-Types. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):1-17.
    The paper sets out a new strategy for theory reduction by means of functional sub-types. This strategy is intended to get around the multiple realization objection. We use Kim’s argument for token identity (ontological reductionism) based on the causal exclusion problem as starting point. We then extend ontological reductionism to epistemological reductionism (theory reduction). We show how one can distinguish within any functional type between functional sub-types. Each of these sub-types is coextensive with one type of realizer. By this means, (...)
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  34. Michael Esfeld, Comment on David Papineau, Can Any Sciences Be Special?
    David Papineau, Jerry Fodor and many others wonder how the conjunction of the following three positions can be true: 1) Special science laws: There are lawlike generalizations in the special sciences. These sciences trade in kinds that are such that statements about salient, reliable correlations that are projectible and that support counterfactuals apply to the tokens coming under these kinds. 2) Non-reductionism: The laws of some of the special sciences cannot be reduced to physical laws. 3) Physicalism: Everything there is (...)
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  35. Michael Esfeld, Lewis' Causation and Quantum Correlations.
    If we apply Lewis’ theory of causation to the quantum correlations which become manifest in the Bell experiments, this theory tells us that these correlations are a case of causation. However, there are strong physical reasons (and concrete suggestions) not to treat these correlations in terms of a physical interaction. The aim of this paper is to assess this conflict. My conclusion is: one can either divorce Lewis’ causation from physical interaction, or one can take the quantum case as an (...)
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  36. Michael Esfeld, Holism and Structural Realism.
    We first introduce structural realism as a position in the metaphysics of science, pointing out the way in which this position replaces intrinsic properties with relations so that it amounts to a holistic in contrast to an atomistic metaphysics. We argue in favour of a moderate version of structural realism that puts objects and relations on the same ontological footing and assess the general philosophical arguments for this position. The second section shows how structural realism gains support from quantum physics. (...)
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  37.  26
    Michael H. Herzog & Michael Esfeld, Consciousness & the Small Network Argument.
    The last decade has experienced a vivid enthusiasm to unravel the mystery of consciousness believed to be one of the major puzzles of human kind. We share this enthusiasm. Still, we feel that current models are incomplete suffering from a problem that we call the “small network argument”.
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  38.  72
    Patrice Soom, Christian Sachse & Michael Esfeld, Psycho-Neural Reduction Through Functional Sub-Types.
    The paper argues that a functional reduction of ordinary psychology to neuropsychology is possible by means of constructing fine-grained functional, mental sub-types that are coextensive with neuropsychological types. We establish this claim by means of considering as examples the cases of the disconnection syndrome and schizophrenia. We point out that the result is a conservative reduction, vindicating the scientific quality of the mental types of ordinary psychology by systematically linking them with neuroscience. That procedure of conservative reduction by means of (...)
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  39. Michael Esfeld (1998). Holism and Analytic Philosophy. Mind 107 (426):365-80.
    The aim of the paper is to propose a general conception of holism which is applicable to cases as far apart as holism in belief systems and holism in quantum physics. My proposal characterizes a holistic system S in terms of generic ontological dependence among its parts. This dependence relates to some of the properties that make something a part of an S whenever there is a suitable arrangement with other things. My proposal thus also characterizes what it is for (...)
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  40.  41
    Michael Esfeld (forthcoming). How to Account for Quantum Non-Locality: Ontic Structural Realism and the Primitive Ontology of Quantum Physics. Synthese:1-16.
    The paper has two aims: (1) it sets out to show that it is well motivated to seek for an account of quantum non-locality in the framework of ontic structural realism (OSR), which integrates the notions of holism and non-separability that have been employed since the 1980s to achieve such an account. However, recent research shows that OSR on its own cannot provide such an account. Against this background, the paper argues that by applying OSR to the primitive ontology theories (...)
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  41. Michael Esfeld (2000). Is Quantum Indeterminism Relevant to Free Will? Philosophia Naturalis 37 (1):177-187.
    Quantum indeterminism may make available the option of an interactionism that does not have to pay the price of a force over and above those forces that are acknowledged in physics in order to explain how intentions can be physically effective. I show how this option might work in concrete terms and offer a criticism of it.
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  42. Michael Esfeld (2005). Mental Causation and Mental Properties. Dialectica 59 (1):5-18.
    The aim of this paper is to defend the causal homogeneity of functional, mental properties against Kim’s attack. It is argued that (a) token identity is sufficient for mental causation, that (b) token identity implies a sort of functional reduction, but that (c) nonetheless functional, mental properties can be causally homogeneous despite being multiply realizable: multiple composition is sufficient for multiple realizability, but multiple composition does not prevent the realizers from having their pertinent effects in common. Thus, the causal exclusion (...)
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  43.  20
    Michael Esfeld (2015). Bell’s Theorem and the Issue of Determinism and Indeterminism. Foundations of Physics 45 (5):471-482.
    The paper considers the claim that quantum theories with a deterministic dynamics of objects in ordinary space-time, such as Bohmian mechanics, contradict the assumption that the measurement settings can be freely chosen in the EPR experiment. That assumption is one of the premises of Bell’s theorem. I first argue that only a premise to the effect that what determines the choice of the measurement settings is independent of what determines the past state of the measured system is needed for the (...)
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  44. Michael Esfeld (1999). Quantum Holism and the Philosophy of Mind. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (1):23-38.
    This paper attempts to build a bridge between the interpretation of quantum theory and the philosophy of mind. In contrast to other such attempts, the bridge which this paper suggests does not consist in extending features of quantum theory to the philosophy of mind. The argument of this paper is that the discussion about a revision of the Cartesian tradition in current philosophy of mind is relevant to the interpretation of quantum theory: taking this discussion into account sharpens up the (...)
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  45. Michael Esfeld (2007). Metaphysics of Science Between Metaphysics and Science. Grazer Philosophische Studien 74 (1):199-213.
    The paper argues that metaphysics depends upon science when it comes to claims about the constitution of the real world. That thesis is illustrated by considering the examples of global supervenience, the tenseless vs. the tensed theory of time and existence, events vs. substances, and relations vs. intrinsic properties. An argument is sketched out for a metaphysics of a four-dimensional block universe whose content are events and their sequences, events consisting in physical properties instantiated at space-time points, these properties being (...)
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  46.  35
    Michael Esfeld (ed.) (2006). John Heil: Symposium on His Ontological Point of View. Ontos.
    The volume covers a number of the most hotly debated issues in today's metaphysics and moves the discussion on in several important aspects.
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  47.  20
    Matthias Egg & Michael Esfeld (2015). Primitive Ontology and Quantum State in the GRW Matter Density Theory. Synthese 192 (10):3229-3245.
    The paper explains in what sense the GRW matter density theory is a primitive ontology theory of quantum mechanics and why, thus conceived, the standard objections against the GRW formalism do not apply to GRWm. We consider the different options for conceiving the quantum state in GRWm and argue that dispositionalism is the most attractive one.
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  48. Michael Esfeld (2005). Scientific Realism and the History of Science. Philosophy 1:1-15.
    The paper considers the two main challenges to scientific realism, stemming from confirmation holism and the underdetermination thesis as well as from semantic holism and the incommensurability thesis. Against the first challenge, it is argued that there are other criteria besides agreement with experience that enable a rational evaluation of competing theories. Against the second challenge, it is argued that at most a thesis of local incommensurability can be defended that is compatible with a minimal version of scientific realism, namely (...)
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  49.  80
    Michael Esfeld (1999). Physicalism and Ontological Holism. Metaphilosophy 30 (4):319-337.
    The claim of this paper is that we should envisage physicalism as an ontological holism. Our current basic physics, quantum theory, suggests that, ontologically speaking, we have to assume one global quantum state of the world; many of the properties that are often taken to be intrinsic properties of physical systems are in fact relations, which are determined by that global quantum state. The paper elaborates on this conception of physicalism as an ontological holism and considers issues such as supervenience, (...)
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  50. Michael Esfeld (2010). Kausale Strukturen: Einheit Und Vielfalt in der Natur Und den Naturwissenschaften. Suhrkamp.
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