Authors
Vladislav Terekhovich
National Research University Higher School of Economics
Abstract
Despite the importance of the variational principles of physics, there have been relatively few attempts to consider them for a realistic framework. In addition to the old teleological question, this paper continues the recent discussion regarding the modal involvement of the principle of least action and its relations with the Humean view of the laws of nature. The reality of possible paths in the principle of least action is examined from the perspectives of the contemporary metaphysics of modality and Leibniz's concept of essences or possibles striving for existence. I elaborate a modal interpretation of the principle of least action that replaces a classical representation of a system's motion along a single history in the actual modality by simultaneous motions along an infinite set of all possible histories in the possible modality. This model is based on an intuition that deep ontological connections exist between the possible paths in the principle of least action and possible quantum histories in the Feynman path integral. I interpret the action as a physical measure of the essence of every possible history. Therefore only one actual history has the highest degree of the essence and minimal action. To address the issue of necessity, I assume that the principle of least action has a general physical necessity and lies between the laws of motion with a limited physical necessity and certain laws with a metaphysical necessity.
Keywords Principle of least action  Modality  Possibilia  Feynman path integral  Laws of nature  Leibniz
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsb.2017.09.004
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Blackwell.
The Nature of Necessity.Alvin Plantinga - 1974 - Clarendon Press.
Essence and Modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8 (Logic and Language):1-16.
Truth and Truthmakers.D. M. Armstrong - 2004 - Cambridge University Press.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Philosophical Underpinning of the Absorber Theory of Radiation.Marco Forgione - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 72:91-106.
Physics of the Human Mind.Ihor Lubashevsky - 2017 - Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.

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