Dissertation, University of Sydney (2018)

Bruce Long
University of Sydney (PhD)
The objective of this thesis is to present a naturalised metaphysics of information, or to naturalise information, by way of deploying a scientific metaphysics according to which contingency is privileged and a-priori conceptual analysis is excluded (or at least greatly diminished) in favour of contingent and defeasible metaphysics. The ontology of information is established according to the premises and mandate of the scientific metaphysics by inference to the best explanation, and in accordance with the idea that the primacy of physics constraint accommodates defeasibility of theorising in physics. This metametaphysical approach is used to establish a field ontology as a basis for an informational structural realism. This is in turn, in combination with information theory and specifically mathematical and algorithmic theories of information, becomes the foundation of what will be called a source ontology, according to which the world is the totality of information sources. Information sources are to be understood as causally induced configurations of structure that are, or else reduce to and/or supervene upon, bounded (including distributed and non-contiguous) regions of the heterogeneous quantum field (all quantum fields combined) and fluctuating vacuum, all in accordance with the above-mentioned quantum field-ontic informational structural realism (FOSIR.) Arguments are presented for realism, physicalism, and reductionism about information on the basis of the stated contingent scientific metaphysics. In terms of philosophical argumentation, realism about information is argued for primarily by way of an indispensability argument that defers to the practice of scientists and regards concepts of information as just as indispensable in their theories as contingent representations of structure. Physicalism and reductionism about information are adduced by way of the identity thesis that identifies the substance of the structure of ontic structural realism as identical to selections of structure existing in re to combined heterogeneous quantum fields, and to the total heterogeneous quantum field comprised of all such fields. Adjunctly, an informational statement of physicalism is arrived at, and a theory of semantic information is proposed, according to which information is intrinsically semantic and alethically neutral.
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