After decades of neglect philosophers of physics have discovered gauge theories--arguably the paradigm of modern field physics--as a genuine topic for foundational and philosophical research. Incidentally, in the last couple of years interest from the philosophy of physics in structural realism--in the eyes of its proponents the best suited realist position towards modern physics--has also raised. This paper tries to connect both topics and aims to show that structural realism gains further credence from an ontological analysis of gauge theories--in particular (...) U(1) gauge theory. In the first part of the paper the framework of fiber bundle gauge theories is briefly presented and the interpretation of local gauge symmetry will be examined. In the second part, an ontological underdetermination of gauge theories is carved out by considering the various kinds of non-locality involved in such typical effects as the Aharonov-Bohm effect. The analysis shows that the peculiar form of non-separability figuring in gauge theories is a variant of spatiotemporal holism and can be distinguished from quantum theoretic holism. In the last part of the paper the arguments for a gauge theoretic support of structural realism are laid out and discussed. (shrink)
Structural realism is sometimes said to undermine the theory underdetermination (TUD) argument against realism, since, in usual TUD scenarios, the supposed underdetermination concerns the object-like theoretical content but not the structural content. The paper explores the possibility of structural TUD by considering some special cases from modern physics, but also questions the validity of the TUD argument itself. The upshot is that cases of structural TUD cannot be excluded, but that TUD is perhaps not such a terribly serious anti-realistic argument.
Whether meaning is compositional has been a major issue in linguistics and formal philosophy of language for the last 2 decades. Semantic holism is widely and plausibly considered as an objection to the principle of semantic compositionality therein. It comes as a surprise that the holistic peculiarities of scientific language have been rarely addressed in formal accounts so far, given that semantic holism has its roots in the philosophy of science. For this reason, a model-theoretic approach to semantic holism in (...) the language of science is presented here. This approach preserves compositionality to a large extent. *Received September 2009; revised February 2010. †To contact the author, please write to: Seminar for Philosophy, Logic, and Theory of Science, Hauspostfach 49, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich 80539, Germany; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to scrutinize active externalism and its repercussions for externalism about mental content. I start from the claim that active externalism is a version of content externalism that follows from the extended cognition thesis as a thesis about cognitive vehicles. Various features of active content externalism are explored by comparison with the known forms of passive externalism – in particular with respect to the multiple realizability of the relevant external content-determining components and with respect to (...) mental causation. A crucial result is that social externalism is already a version of active externalism. I conclude with a first sketch of a general account of meaning inspired by extended cognition: a use theory supplemented by a functional-role account. (shrink)
This book aims to lay bare the logical foundations of tractable reasoning. It draws on Marvin Minsky's seminal work on frames, which has been highly influential in computer science and, to a lesser extent, in cognitive science. Only very few people have explored ideas about frames in logic, which is why the investigation in this book breaks new ground. The apparent intractability of dynamic, inferential reasoning is an unsolved problem in both cognitive science and logic-oriented artificial intelligence. By means of (...) a logical investigation of frames and frame concepts, Andreas devises a novel logic of tractable reasoning, called frame logic. Moreover, he devises a novel belief revision scheme, which is tractable for frame logic. These tractability results shed new light on our logical and cognitive means to carry out dynamic, inferential reasoning. Modularity remains central for tractability, and so the author sets forth a logical variant of the massive modularity hypothesis in cognitive science. (shrink)
This paper explores the argument structure of the concept of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the electroweak gauge theory of the Standard Model: the so-called Higgs mechanism. As commonly understood, the Higgs argument is designed to introduce the masses of the gauge bosons by a spontaneous breaking of the gauge symmetry of an additional field, the Higgs field. The technical derivation of the Higgs mechanism, however, consists in a mere reshuffling of degrees of freedom by transforming the Higgs Lagrangian in a (...) gauge-invariant manner. This already raises serious doubts about the adequacy of the entire manoeuvre. It will be shown that no straightforward ontic interpretation of the Higgs mechanism is tenable, since gauge transformations possess no real instantiations. In addition, the explanatory value of the Higgs argument will be critically examined. (shrink)
The paper is a kind of opinionated review paper on current issues in the debate about Structural Realism, roughly the view that we should be committed in the structural rather than object-like content of our best current scientific theories. The major thesis in the first part of the paper is that Structural Realism has to take structurally derived intrinsic properties into account, while in the second part key elements of aligning Structural Realism with a Humean framework are outlined.
In this paper, we analyse actual causation in terms of production. The latter concept is made precise by a strengthened Ramsey Test semantics of conditionals: \ iff, after suspending judgement about A and C, C is believed in the course of assuming A. This test allows us to verify or falsify that an event brings about another event. Complementing the concept of production by a weak condition of difference-making gives rise to a full-fledged analysis of causation.
The aim of this paper is twofold: First, to present an examination of the principles underlying gauge field theories. I shall argue that there are two principles directly connected to the two well-known theorems of Emmy Noether concerning global and local symmetries of the free matter-field Lagrangian, in the following referred to as "conservation principle" and "gauge principle". Since both these express nothing but certain symmetry features of the free field theory, they are not sufficient to derive a true interaction (...) coupling to a new gauge field. For this purpose it is necessary to advocate a third, truly empirical principle which may be understood as a generalization of the equivalence principle. The second task of the paper is to deal with the ontological question concerning the reality status of gauge potentials in the light of the proposed logical structure of gauge theories. A nonlocal interpretation of topological effects in gauge theories and, thus, the non-reality of gauge potentials in accordance with the generalized equivalence principle will be favoured. (shrink)
Most recent accounts of personal autonomy acknowledge that the social environment a person lives in, and the personal relationships she entertains, have some impact on her autonomy. Two kinds of conceptualizing social conditions are traditionally distinguished in this regard: Causally relational accounts hold that certain relationships and social environments play a causal role for the development and ongoing exercise of autonomy. Constitutively relational accounts, by contrast, claim that autonomy is at least partly constituted by a person’s social environment or standing. (...) The central aim of this paper is to raise the question how causally and constitutively relational approaches relate to the fact that we exercise our autonomy over time. I argue that once the temporal scope of autonomy is opened up, we need not only to think differently about the social dimension of autonomy. We also need to reconsider the very distinction between causally and constitutively relational accounts, because it is itself a synchronic distinction. (shrink)
The well-known formal semantics of conditionals due to Stalnaker Studies in logical theory, Blackwell, Oxford, 1968), Lewis, and Gärdenfors The logic and 1140 epistemology of scientific change, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1978, Knowledge in flux, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1988) all fail to distinguish between trivially and nontrivially true indicative conditionals. This problem has been addressed by Rott :345–370, 1986) in terms of a strengthened Ramsey Test. In this paper, we refine Rott’s strengthened Ramsey Test and the corresponding analysis of explanatory relations. We (...) show that our final analysis captures the presumed asymmetry between explanans and explanandum much better than Rott’s original analysis. (shrink)
Modal logic has been applied in many different areas, as reasoning about time, knowledge and belief, necessity and possibility, to mention only some examples. In the present paper, an attempt is made to use modal logic to account for the semantics of theoretical sentences in scientific language. Theoretical sentences have been studied extensively since the work of Ramsey and Carnap. The present attempt at a modal analysis is motivated by there being several intended interpretations of the theoretical terms once these (...) terms are introduced through the axioms of a theory. (shrink)
A simple explanation of theoreticity says that a term is theoretical if and only if it refers to nonobservational entities. Paradigmatic examples of such entities are electrons, neutrinos, gravitational forces, genes etc. There is yet another explanation of theoreticity: a theoretical term is one whose meaning becomes determined through the axioms of a scientific theory. The meaning of the term ‘force’, for example, is seen to be determined by Newton’s laws of motion and further laws about special forces, such as (...) the law of gravitation. Theoreticity is a property that is commonly applied to both expressions in the language of science, and referents and concepts of such expressions. Objects, relations and functions as well as concepts thereof may thus qualify as theoretical in a derived sense. (shrink)
We aim to devise a Ramsey test analysis of actual causation. Our method is to define a strengthened Ramsey test for causal models. Unlike the accounts of Halpern and Pearl () and Halpern (), the resulting analysis deals satisfactorily with both over- determination and conjunctive scenarios.
Als Wissenschaftslogik bezeichnet Carnap jene Disziplin, welche die Nachfolge der traditionellen Philosophie im 20. Jahrhundert antreten sollte. Den zentralen Bezugspunkt von Carnaps wissenschaftslogischen Arbeiten bildet die von Frege und Russell entwickelte mathematische Logik. Dies gilt auch für die Zweistufenkonzeption, mit der Carnap ein allgemeines Schema zur Analyse der Bedeutung von Begriffen nichtmathematischer Theorien entwirft. Dabei wird die Abhängigkeit der begrifflichen Bedeutung von den Aussagen der jeweiligen Theorie explizit anerkannt, was eine Überwindung der Dogmen des Empirismus innerhalb des Logischen Empirismus einschlieβt. (...) Allerdings geht Carnap in seinen Arbeiten zur Semantik formaler Sprachen auf die spezifischen Eigenschaften von theoretischen Termen nicht ein, so daβ die Überwindung der Dogmen des Empirismus unvollständig bleibt. Darauf gründet sich die wesentliche Aufgabe der vorliegenden Untersuchung, welche darin besteht, die Deutung von theoretischen Termen durch Postulate im Rahmen der mathematischen Logik exakt zu beschreiben. (shrink)
Four empirically equivalent versions of general relativity, namely standard GR, Lorentz-invariant gravitational theory,and the gravitational gauge theories of the Lorentz and translation groups, are investigated in the form of a case study for theory underdetermination. The various ontological indeterminacies (both underdetermination and inscrutability of reference) inherent in gravitational theories are analyzed in a detailed comparative study. The concept of practical underdetermination is proposed, followed by a discussion of its adequacy to describe scientific progress.
Recent developments under the keywords dynamicism, embodiment and situated cognition suggest the view that cognitive systems are not confined to the neural sys‐tem but leak into the world beyond the traditional system boundaries. This is the thesis of extended cognition. Such an extension of the cognitive vehicles leads to a new kind of content externalism, known as active externalism. The essay pursues three objectives: firstly, to distinguish the theses of extended cognitive and active externalism. Secondly, to delineate active externalism from (...) its various passive-externalist precursors in the form of physical, historical and social externalism and to scrutinize its special position, which amounts to a comprehensive discussion and analysis of all variants of mental externalism. And thirdly, to show that social externalism as opposed to physical and historical externalism allows for a gradual transition from passive to active mental externalism. (shrink)
Proponents of mechanistic explanations have recently proclaimed that all explanations in the neurosciences appeal to mechanisms. The purpose of the paper is to critically assess this statement and to develop an integrative account that connects a large range of both mechanistic and dynamical explanations. I develop and defend four theses about the relationship between dynamical and mechanistic explanations: that dynamical explanations are structurally grounded, that they are multiply realizable, possess realizing mechanisms and provide a powerful top-down heuristic. Four examples shall (...) support my points: the harmonic oscillator, the Haken–Kelso–Bunz model of bimanual coordination, the Watt governor and the Gierer–Meinhardt model of biological pattern formation. I also develop the picture of “horizontal” and “vertical” directions of explanations to illustrate the different perspectives of the dynamical and mechanistic approach as well as their potential integration by means of intersection points. (shrink)
In this paper, a new account of empirical claims in structuralism is developed. Its novelty derives from the use that is made of the linguistic approach to scientific theories despite the presumed incompatibility of structuralism with that approach. It is shown how the linguistic approach can be applied to the framework of structuralism if the semantic foundations of that approach are refined to do justice to the doctrine of indirect interpretation of theoretical terms. This doctrine goes back to Carnap but (...) has been advanced until the present day without a proper semantic explanation. (shrink)
The paper has three parts. In the first part ExtOSR, an extended version of Ontic Structural Realism, will be introduced. ExtOSR considers structural properties as ontological primitives, where structural properties are understood as comprising both relational and structurally derived intrinsic properties or structure invariants. It is argued that ExtOSR is best suited to accommodate gauge symmetry invariants and zero value properties. In the second part, ExtOSR will be given a Humean shape by considering structures as categorical and global. It will (...) be laid out how such structures serve to reconstruct non-essential structural kinds and laws. In the third part Humean structural realism will be defended against the threat of quidditism. (shrink)
The present paper aims at a synthesis of belief revision theory with the Sneed formalism known as the structuralist theory of science. This synthesis is brought about by a dynamisation of classical structuralism, with an abductive inference rule and base generated revisions in the style of Rott (2001). The formalism of prioritised default logic (PDL) serves as the medium of the synthesis. Why seek to integrate the Sneed formalism into belief revision theory? With the hybrid system of the present investigation, (...) a substantial simplification of the ranking information that is necessary to define revisions and contractions uniquely is achieved. This system is, furthermore, expressive enough to capture complex and non-trivial scientific examples. It is thus closely related to a novel research area within belief revision theory which addresses the dynamics of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
The present paper aims to complement causal model approaches to causal explanation by Woodward , Halpern and Pearl , and Strevens . It centres on a strengthened Ramsey Test of conditionals: α ≫ γ iff, after sus- pending judgment about α and γ, an agent can infer γ from the supposition of α. It has been shown by Andreas and Gu ̈nther  that such a conditional can be used as starting point of an analysis of ‘because’ in natural language. (...) In what follows, we shall refine this analysis so as to yield a fully fledged account of causal explanation. (shrink)
Did Goethe devise an empirically viable theory of classical ray optics? Or can we at least make use of his ideas to propose one? And if so, does this confront us with an intriguing case of theory underdetermination? In this paper, which is mainly a comment on the recent work of Olaf Müller, I shall address these three questions and argue for ‘no, yes, no’. This is in contrast to Müller, who has recently launched a vivid defense of Goethe-style ray (...) optics :569–573, 2015b; Z Philos Forsch 69:588–598, 2015c; Br J Hist Philos 24:322–346, 2016). Müller aims to give an almost positive answer to all three questions: ‘perhaps, yes, yes’. My overall line of argument will be that the rather restricted regime of classical geometrical optics of spectral colors allows at best for a weak form of transient theory underdetermination that, in turn and more straightforwardly, also allows for a structuralist reading in terms of two structurally equivalent formulations of one and the same theory. However, extending any of the rivaling models of ray optics other than Newton’s beyond the mentioned regime and embedding them into physics in total—especially in view of thermodynamics—leads to a contradiction. Hence, Newton’s theory is confirmed as the only consistent theoretical interpretation of ray optics. (shrink)
According to Woodward’s influential account of explanation, explanations have a counterfactual structure, and explanatory counterfactuals are analysed in terms of causal relations and interventions. In this paper, we provide a formal semantics of explanatory counterfactuals based on a Ramsey Test semantics of conditionals. Like Woodward’s account, our account is guided by causal considerations. Unlike Woodward’s account, it makes no reference to causal graphs and it also covers cases of explanation where interventions are impossible.
Quantum theory is a tremendously successful physical theory, but nevertheless suffers from two serious problems: the measurement problem and the problem of interpretational underdetermination. The latter, however, is largely overlooked as a genuine problem of its own. Both problems concern the doctrine of realism, but pull, quite curiously, into opposite directions. The measurement problem can be captured such that due to scientific realism about quantum theory common sense anti-realism follows, while theory underdetermination usually counts as an argument against scientific realism. (...) I will also consider the more refined distinctions of ontic and epistemic realism and demonstrate that quantum theory in its most viable interpretations conflicts with at least one of the various realism claims. A way out of the conundrum is to come to the bold conclusion that quantum theory is, possibly, wrong (in the realist sense). (shrink)
The German philosopher Robert Spaemann provides an important contribution to a number of contemporary debates in philosophy and theology, opening up possibilities for conversation between these disciplines. He engages in a dialogue with classical and contemporary positions and often formulates important and original insights which lie beyond common alternatives. In this study Holger Zaborowski provides an analysis of the most important features of Spaemann's philosophy and shows the unity of his thought. The question 'Who is a person?' is of (...) increasing significance: Are all human beings persons? Are there animals that can be considered persons? What does it mean to speak of personal identity and of the dignity of the person? Spaemann provides an answer to these questions: Every human being, he argues, is a person and, therefore, 'has' his nature in freedom. In order to understand the person, Spaemann explains, we have to think about the relation between nature and freedom and avoid the reductive accounts of this relation prevalent in important strands of modern thought. Spaemann develops a challenging critique of modernity, incorporating analysis of modern anti-modernisms and showing that these are also subject to a dialectical development, perpetuating the problematic shortcomings of many features of modern reasoning. If we do not want to abolish ourselves as persons, Spaemann reasons, we need to find a way of understanding ourselves that evades the dialectic of modernity. Thus, he reminds his readers of 'self-evident' knowledge: insights that we have once already known, but tend to forget. (shrink)
I give a response to Adrian Wüthrich’s critical review of my analysis of the Higgs mechanism, in which I try to clarify some possible misunderstandings. I concede that, as Wüthrich points out, many physicists see the Higgs mechanism as the roll-over from a symmetrical potential in the initial Lagrangian to a symmetry-breaking potential, while my former analysis had basically focused on the gauge-invariant transformation of the initial Lagrangian into the intended form. My main contention, however, still is that neither Higgs (...) story has (as yet) much explanatory power. (shrink)
The desideratum of semantic interoperability has been intensively discussed in medical informatics circles in recent years. Originally, experts assumed that this issue could be sufficiently addressed by insisting simply on the application of shared clinical terminologies or clinical information models. However, the use of the term ‘ontology’ has been steadily increasing more recently. We discuss criteria for distinguishing clinical ontologies from clinical terminologies and information models. Then, we briefly present the role clinical ontologies play in two multicentric research projects. Finally, (...) we discuss the interactions between these different kinds of knowledge representation artifacts and the stakeholders involved in developing interoperational real-world clinical applications. We provide ontology engineering examples from two EU-funded projects. (shrink)
Structural Realism (SR) is typically rated as a moderate realist doctrine about the ultimate entities of nature described by fundamental physics. Whether it must be extended to the higher-level special sciences is not so clear. In this short paper I argue that there is no need to ‘structuralize’ the special sciences. By mounting concrete examples I show that structural descriptions and structural laws certainly play a role in the special sciences, but that they don’t play any exclusive role nor that (...) they give us any reason to believe that all that there is on the various levels is structure. I fortify my points by arguing that structures are global entities (in order for SR not to collapse into a bundle ontology) and that the assumption of higher-level structures as genuinely global or holistic entities is even more arcane. (shrink)
Multiple Realizability (MR) must still be regarded as one of the principal arguments against type reductionist accounts of higher-order properties and their special laws. Against this I argue that there is no unique MR but rather a multitude of MR categories. In a slogan: MR is itself “multi-realized”. If this is true then we cannot expect one unique reductionist strategy against MR as an anti-reductionist argument. The main task is rather to develop a taxonomy of the wide variety of MR (...) cases and to sketch possible reductionist answers for each class of cases. The paper outlines some first steps in this direction. (shrink)
In this paper, a solution to the problem of theoretical terms is developed that is based on Carnap’s doctrine of indirect interpretation of theoretical terms. This doctrine will be given a semantic, model-theoretic explanation that is not given by Carnap himself as he remains content with a syntactic explanation. From that semantic explanation, rules for the truth-value assignment to postulates, i.e. sentences that determine the meaning of theoretical terms, are derived. The logical status of postulates will be clarified thereby in (...) such a way that the problem of theoretical terms disappears. (shrink)
In der modernen Physik spielen Symmetrien eine herausragende Rolle zur Identifikation und Klassifizierung der fundamentalen Theorien und Entitäten. Symmetrien dienen der Darstellung invarianter Strukturen, das geeignete mathematische Werkzeug hierfür ist die Gruppentheorie. Eine Struktur lässt sich als eine Menge von Relationen verstehen, die einer Menge von Objekten aufgeprägt sind. Strukturell charakterisierte Objekte sind daher wesentlich über ihre relationalen Eigenschaften charakterisiert. Sieht man die theoretischen Entitäten wissenschaftlicher Theorien vornehmlich in dieser strukturellen Weise an, vertritt man eine moderate Variante eines wissenschaftlichen Realismus, (...) die als Strukturenrealismus bekannt ist. Im Umfeld dieser drei Konzepte – Symmetrien, Strukturen, Realismus – bewegt sich der folgende Aufsatz. (shrink)
Background: Informed consent is a legal as well as ethical prerequisite in clinical research. For dementia research, informed consent can be a problem if subjects with dementia, whose capacity for understanding and thus also decision making might be limited, are to be exam- ined. This might result in exclusion of dementia patients from research, as capacity for understanding and decision making are often equated with the ability for rational decision making. However, this valuation has been criticized at times for attaching (...) too much impor- tance to the cognitive aspect of decision making. -/- Methods: This qualitative study investigates the actual consent procedure of a clini- cal research study in Germany with regard to dementia patients’ subjective and objective understanding of informed consent information. Research participants were ten dementia patients, who volunteered in two clinical research studies, as well as their caregivers. Data were collected by use of semi-structured interviews. -/- Results: It was determined that the patients’ comprehension of informed consent infor- mation was rather limited. However, a number of patients were quite aware of this. In con- trast, all caregivers claimed to have fully understood the provided information, while their objective comprehension was also incomplete. Several participants indicated that they did not attach much importance to the information given in the consent procedure and that their consent did not primarily depend on this information. Rather, participation in the research study for them seemed to be more of a problem-focused coping strategy for dealing with their diagnosis of dementia. -/- Conclusion: For research ethics these results raise the question whether the currently prevailing emphasis on the cognitive aspect of autonomous decision making, i.e., compre- hension, may be too one-sided, and to what extent the “volitional” aspect in giving consent should be given greater consideration. (shrink)
The paper presents and discusses the “which-is-which content of handedness,” the meaning of left as left and right as right, as a possible candidate for the idea of a genuine embodied cognitive content. After showing that the Ozma barrier, the non-transferability of the meaning of left and right, provides a kind of proof of the non-descriptive, indexical nature of the which-is-which content of handedness, arguments are presented which suggest that the classical representationalist account of cognition faces a perplexing problem of (...) underdetermination of reference of left and right in the which-is-which sense. By way of contrast, no such problems occur in a framework were embodied contents are not mediated by some extra body model which carries the representational power, but are instead directly represented. (shrink)
Primarily addressed to readers unfamiliar with the structuralist approach in philosophy of science, we introduce the basic concepts that the contributions to this special issue presuppose. By means of examples, we briefly review set-theoretic structures and predicates, the potential and actual models of an empirical theory, intended applications, as well as links and specializations that are applied, among others, in reconstructing the empirical claim associated with a theory element.