This paper combines Alfred Shultz and Herbert Simon's theories of action in order to understand the grey area between dynamic and completely unstructured decision making better. As a result I have put together a specific scheme of how choice elements are represented from an agent's personal experience, so as to create a bridge between the phenomenological and cognitive-procedural approaches of decision making. I first look at the key points of their original models relating Alfred Schutz's “provinces of meaning” and Herbert (...) Simon's “satisficing” mechanism. I then consider the particular concept of intentionality and reasoning by analogy for different choice settings. Finally I have suggested a perspective based on creative behaviour and sense-making for ill-structured conditions. (shrink)
In recent years, a ''change in attitude'' in particle physics has led to our understanding current quantum field theories as effective field theories (EFTs). The present paper is concerned with the significance of this EFT approach, especially from the viewpoint of the debate on reductionism in science. In particular, I shall show how EFTs provide a new and interesting case study in current philosophical discussion on reduction, emergence, and inter-level relationships in general.
Bewildering features of modern physics, such as relativistic space-time structure and the peculiarities of so-called quantum statistics, challenge traditional ways of conceiving of objects in space and time. Interpreting Bodies brings together essays by leading philosophers and scientists to provide a unique overview of the implications of such physical theories for questions about the nature of objects. The collection combines classic articles by Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, Hans Reichenbach, and Erwin Schrodinger with recent contributions, including several papers that have never (...) before been published. -/- The book focuses on the microphysical objects that are at the heart of quantum physics and addresses issues central to both the "foundational" and the philosophical debates about objects. Contributors explore three subjects in particular: how to identify a physical object as an individual, the notion of invariance with respect to determining what objects are or could be, and how to relate objective and measurable properties to a physical entity. The papers cover traditional philosophical topics, common-sense questions, and technical matters in a consistently clear and rigorous fashion, illuminating some of the most perplexing problems in modern physics and the philosophy of science. (shrink)
A draft version of Chapter 11 of the edited volume 'Interpreting Bodies. Classical and Quantum Objects in Modern Physics',. The Chapter is devoted to illustrating the group-theoretic approach to the issue of physical objects. In particular, the Chapter discusses the group-theoretic constitution of classical and quantum particles in the nonrelativistic case.
This is the review paper for the section III ("Symmetry breaking") of the volume "Symmetries in physics: philosophical reflections", Cambridge University Press, 2003, edited by Katherine A. Brading and Elena Castellani. The paper's sections are: 1. Preliminaries (I); 2. Symmetry breaking and Curie's analysis; 3. Preliminaries (II); 4. Symmetry breaking of physical laws (4.1. Explicit symmetry breaking; 4.2. Spontaneous symmetry breaking); 5. Symmetry breaking and philosophical questions.
In recent years, a change in attitude in particle physics has led to our understanding current quantum field theories as effective field theories. The present paper is concerned with the significance of this EFT approach, especially from the viewpoint of the debate on reductionism in science. In particular, it is a purpose of this paper to clarify how EFTs may provide an interesting case-study in current philosophical discussion on reduction, emergence and inter-level relationships in general.
Is there more that one "Curie's principle"? How far are different formulations legitimate? What are the aspects that make it so scientifically fruitful, independently of how it is formulated? The paper is devoted to exploring these questions. We start with illustrating Curie's original 1894 article and his focus. Then, we consider the way that the discussion of the principle took shape from early commentators to its modern form. We say why we think that the modern focus on the inter-state version (...) of the principle loses sight of some of the most interesting significant applications of the principle. Finally, we address criticism of the principle put forward by Norton and purported counterexamples due to Roberts. (shrink)
Weak/strong duality is usually accompanied by what seems a puzzling ontological feature: the fact that under this kind of duality what is viewed as 'elementary' in one description gets mapped to what is viewed as 'composite' in the dual description. This paper investigates the meaning of this apparent 'particle democracy', as it has been called, by adopting an historical approach. The aim is to clarify the nature of the correspondence between 'dual particles' in the light of an historical analysis of (...) the developments of the idea of weak/strong duality, starting with Dirac's electric-magnetic duality and its successive generalizations in the context of field theory, to arrive at its first extension to string theory. This analysis is then used as evidential basis for discussing the 'elementary/composite' divide and, after taking another historical detour by analysing an instructive analogy case, drawing some conclusions on the particle-democracy issue. (shrink)
This is the first of two papers concerned with the philosophical significance of dualities as applied in recent fundamental physics. The general idea is that, for its peculiarity, this ‘new’ ingredient in theory construction can open unexpected perspectives in the current philosophical reflection on contemporary physics. In particular, today’s physical dualities represent an unusual type of intertheory relation, the meaning of which deserves to be investigated. The aim is to show how discussing this point brings into play, at the same (...) time, what is intended by a 'theory’ and in which sense dualities are to be considered 'symmetries'. This paper is introductory and focusses on the first form of duality explicitly applied in twentieth century physics, that is electromagnetic duality as discussed in Dirac’s theory of magnetic poles. The extension of electromagnetic duality in the context of quantum field theory and string theory is explored in a forthcoming companion paper. (shrink)
The relevance of symmetry to today's physics is a widely acknowledged fact. A significant part of recent physical inquiry – especially the physics concerned with investigating the fundamentalbuilding blocks of nature – is grounded on symmetry principles andtheir many and far-reaching consequences. But where these symmetries come from and what their real meaning is are open questions, at the center of a developing debate among physicists and philosophers of science. To tackle the problems arising in considering the symmetry issue is (...) the main purpose of this paper. Starting with briefly recalling the bases for the discussion – how symmetry enters and operates in physics, its special effectiveness in the quantum domain and the many relevant functions it performs (Sections 1–3), the paper then focus on the general interpretative questions that arise and the sorts of answers that have been given (Section 4). (shrink)
We argue that dualities offer new possibilities for relating fundamentality, levels, and emergence. Namely, dualities often relate two theories whose hierarchies of levels are inverted relative to each other, and so allow for new fundamentality relations, as well as for epistemic emergence. We find that the direction of emergence typically found in these cases is opposite to the direction of emergence followed in the standard accounts. Namely, the standard emergence direction is that of decreasing fundamentality: there is emergence of less (...) fundamental, high-level entities, out of more fundamental, low-level entities. But in cases of duality, a more fundamental entity can emerge out of a less fundamental one. This possibility can be traced back to the existence of different classical limits in quantum field theories and string theories. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the problem of the validity of Leibniz's principle of the identity of indiscernibles in physics. After briefly surveying how the question is currently discussed in recent literature and which is the actual meaning of the principle for what concerns physics, we address the question of the physical validity of Leibniz's principle in terms of the existence of a sufficient number of naming predicates in the formal language of physics. This approach allows us to obtain in (...) a formal way the result that a principle of the identity of indiscernibles can be justified in the domain of classical physics, while this is not the case in the domain of quantum physics. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question as to whether the methodology followed in building/assessing string theory can be considered scientific in the same sense, say, that the methodology followed in building/assessing the Standard Model of particle physics is scientific, by focussing on the "founding" period of the theory. More precisely, its aim is to argue for a positive answer to the above question – there is no real change of scientific status in the way of proceeding and reasoning in fundamental physical (...) research – in the light of a historical analysis of the early developments of the string theoretical framework. (shrink)
Symmetry considerations dominate modern fundamental physics, both in quantum theory and in relativity. Philosophers are now beginning to devote increasing attention to such issues as the significance of gauge symmetry, quantum particle identity in the light of permutation symmetry, how to make sense of parity violation, the role of symmetry breaking, the empirical status of symmetry principles, and so forth. These issues relate directly to traditional problems in the philosophy of science, including the status of the laws of nature, the (...) relationships between mathematics, physical theory, and the world, and the extent to which mathematics suggests new physics.This entry begins with a brief description of the historical roots and emergence of the concept of symmetry that is at work in modern science. It then turns to the application of this concept to physics, distinguishing between two different uses of symmetry: symmetry principles versus symmetry arguments. It mentions the different varieties of physical symmetries, outlining the ways in which they were introduced into physics. Then, stepping back from the details of the various symmetries, it makes some remarks of a general nature concerning the status and significance of symmetries in physics. (shrink)
Highlighting main issues and controversies, this book brings together current philosophical discussions of symmetry in physics to provide an introduction to the subject for physicists and philosophers. The contributors cover all the fundamental symmetries of modern physics, such as CPT and permutation symmetry, as well as discussing symmetry-breaking and general interpretational issues. Classic texts are followed by new review articles and shorter commentaries for each topic. Suitable for courses on the foundations of physics, philosophy of physics and philosophy of science, (...) the volume is a valuable reference for students and researchers. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to investigate the consequences of the bibliometrics-based evaluation system of scientific production on the contents and methods of sciences. The research has been conducted by means of in-depth interviews to a multi-disciplinary panel of Italian researchers. We discuss the implications of bibliometrics-based evaluation on the choice of the research topic, on the experimental practices, on the dissemination habits. We observe that the validation of the bibliometrics-based evaluation practices relies on the acceptance and diffusion within (...) the scientific community, and that these practices are self-sustained through their wide application. We discuss possible evolving scenarios, also considering the recent development of digital archives. (shrink)
Symmetry, intended as invariance with respect to a transformation (more precisely, with respect to a transformation group), has acquired more and more importance in modern physics. This Chapter explores in 8 Sections the meaning, application and interpretation of symmetry in classical physics. This is done both in general, and with attention to specific topics. The general topics include illustration of the distinctions between symmetries of objects and of laws, and between symmetry principles and symmetry arguments (such as Curie's principle), and (...) reviewing the meaning and various types of symmetry that may be found in classical physics, along with different interpretative strategies that may be adopted. Specific topics discussed include the historical path by which group theory entered classical physics, transformation theory in classical mechanics, the relativity principle in Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, general covariance in his General Theory of Relativity, and Noether's theorems. In bringing these diverse materials together in a single Chapter, we display the pervasive and powerful influence of symmetry in classical physics, and offer a possible framework for the further philosophical investigation of this topic. (shrink)
This paper is devoted to examining the relevance of Dirac's view on the use of transformation theory and invariants in modern physics --- as it emerges from his 1930 book on quantum mechanics as well as from his later work on singular theories and constraints --- to current reflections on the meaning of physical symmetries, especially gauge symmetries.
This is a multi-authored review of a book that is extremely rich and lengthy (43 chapters, among whose titles are: Chapter III, In the name of the Lord God, this round Earth of the Ancients becomes flat again. Or perhaps not? (In which - by way of preface - the story is told of how our great Sphere, which was measured and drawn by Egyptian Alexandria, became a Mystery, Sacrilege and dark until ten years ago); Chapter X, Strabo: ‘The Pillars? (...) Gibraltar or Cádiz! But none of us have ever really seen them’ (An impossible Interview with the great Greek historian/geographer who summarizes for us what was known by the great men who preceded him. Christ had not yet been born and the site of those famous pillars had already been lost); Chapter XII, With Herodotus in the Eldorado of silver. A voyage to Tartessos, the Andalusian Atlantis (In which it will be seen that neither the Bible nor Herodotus ever said Tartessos was Spain. But only that it was in the West and beyond the Pillars of Hercules: exactly like Sardinia...); Chapter XXVIII, The Peoples-of-the-Sea versus Ramses III or the Very First World War). The author writes on culture for the daily newspaper La Repubblica. (shrink)
This is a draft of the introduction to the collective volume "The birth of string theory", including the book's index and preface. The book explores the history of the theory’s early stages of development, as told by its main protagonists. It journeys from the first version of the theory in the late 1960s, as an attempt to describe the physics of strong interactions outside the framework of quantum field theory, to its reinterpretation around the mid-1970s as a quantum theory of (...) gravity unified with the other interactions, and its successive developments up to the superstring revolution in 1984. The introductive Chapter summarizes the main developments and contains a chronological synopsis with a list of key results and publications. (shrink)
Young children interpret some acts performed by adults as normatively governed, that is, as capable of being performed either rightly or wrongly. In previous experiments, children have made this interpretation when adults introduced them to novel acts with normative language (e.g. ‘this is the way it goes’), along with pedagogical cues signaling culturally important information, and with social-pragmatic marking that this action is a token of a familiar type. In the current experiment, we exposed children to novel actions with no (...) normative language, and we systematically varied pedagogical and social-pragmatic cues in an attempt to identify which of them, if either, would lead children to normative interpretations. We found that young 3-year-old children inferred normativity without any normative language and without any pedagogical cues. The only cue they used was adult socialpragmatic marking of the action as familiar, as if it were a token of a well-known type (as opposed to performing it, as if inventing it on the spot). These results suggest that – in the absence of explicit normative language – young children interpret adult actions as normatively governed based mainly on the intentionality (perhaps signaling conventionality) with which they are performed. (shrink)
Social norms have played a key role in the evolution of human cooperation, serving to stabilize prosocial and egalitarian behavior despite the self-serving motives of individuals. Young children’s behavior mostly conforms to social norms, as they follow adult behavioral directives and instructions. But it turns out that even preschool children also actively enforce social norms on others, often using generic normative language to do so. This behavior is not easily explained by individualistic motives; it is more likely a result of (...) children’s growing identification with their cultural group, which leads to prosocial motives for preserving its ways of doing things. (shrink)
Debates on the moral status of human embryos have been highly and continuously controversial. For many, these controversies have turned into a fruitless scholastical endeavor. However, recent developments and insights in cellular biology have cast further doubt on one of the core points of dissent: the argument from potentiality. In this article we want to show in a nonscholastical way why this argument cannot possibly survive. Getting once more into the intricacies of status debates is a must in our eyes. (...) Not merely intellectual coherence but the standing and self-understanding of current stem cell research might profit from finally taking leave of the argument from potentiality. (shrink)
Human social life is structured by social norms creating both obligations and entitlements. Recent research has found that young children enforce simple obligations against norm violators by protesting. It is not known, however, whether they understand entitlements in the sense that they will actively object to a second party attempting to interfere in something that a third party is entitled to do — what we call counter-protest. In two studies, we found that 3-year-old children understand when a person is entitled (...) to do something, and so they actively defend this person’s entitlement against unjustified interference from second parties. In some cases, they even enforce second-order entitlements, for example, in the case of ownership where an owner is entitled to entitle others to use the owner’s property. (shrink)
During his celebrated 1922 debate with Bergson, Einstein famously proclaimed: “the time of the philosopher does not exist, there remains only a psychological time that differs from the physicist’s.” Einstein’s dictum, I maintain, has been metabolized by the natural sciences, which typically presuppose, more or less explicitly, the existence of a single, univocal, temporal substratum, ultimately determined by physics. This reductionistic assumption pervades much biological and biomedical practice. The chronological age allotted to individuals is conceived as an objective quantity, allowing (...) one to straightforwardly assign and compare the biological age of organisms. This essay argues that the standard practice of assessing the age and aging of organisms against the backdrop of a physical conception of time is problematic. This becomes especially evident in light of recent discoveries of various levels of senescence underlying the development of individual organisms—a phenomenon known as ‘age mosaicism.’ The bottom line is that the study of age and aging requires a biological conception of time, as opposed to a physical one. Einstein clearly wasn’t wrong about his operationalization of time in relativity theory. Still time may be less monolithic than he surmised. (shrink)
The physics and metaphysics of identity and individuality Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9463-7 Authors Don Howard, Department of Philosophy and Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Otávio Bueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Elena Castellani, Department of Philosophy, University of Florence, Via Bolognese 52, (...) 50139 Florence, Italy Laura Crosilla, Department of Pure Mathematics, School of Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT UK Steven French, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Décio Krause, Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Santa Catarina, 88040-900 Campus Trindade, Florianópolis, SC Brazil Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
How to demarcate the political units within which democracy will be practiced? Although recent years have witnessed a steadily increasing academic interest in this question concerning the boundary problem in democratic theory, social contract theory’s potential for solving it has largely been ignored. In fact, contract views are premised on the assumption of a given people and so presuppose what requires legitimization: the existence of a demarcated group of individuals materializing, as it were, from nowhere and whose members agree among (...) themselves to establish a political order. In order to fill this gap in social contract theory, a distinction is made between three kinds of contract views: Lockean political voluntarism, contractarianism, and contractualism. Each of these views can be interpreted in such a way that it offers a democratic solution to the boundary problem. Ultimately, however, a Rawlsian interpretation of the contractualist solution is defended. (shrink)
Human adults incline toward moral objectivism but may approach things more relativistically if different cultures are involved. In this study, 4-, 6-, and 9-year-old children (N = 136) witnessed two parties who disagreed about moral matters: a normative judge (e.g., judging that it is wrong to do X) and an antinormative judge (e.g., judging that it is okay to do X). We assessed children’s metaethical judgment, that is, whether they judged that only one party (objectivism) or both parties (relativism) could (...) be right. We found that 9-year-olds, but not younger children, were more likely to judge that both parties could be right when a normative ingroup judge disagreed with an antinormative extraterrestrial judge (with different preferences and background) than when the antinormative judge was another ingroup individual. This effect was not found in a comparison case where parties disagreed about the possibility of different physical laws. These findings suggest that although young children often exhibit moral objectivism, by early school age they begin to temper their objectivism with culturally relative metaethical judgments. (shrink)
Meditation comprises a series of practices mainly developed in eastern cultures aiming at controlling emotions and enhancing attentional processes. Several authors proposed to divide meditation techniques in focused attention and open monitoring techniques. Previous studies have reported differences in brain networks underlying FA and OM. On the other hand common activations across different meditative practices have been reported. Despite differences between forms of meditation and their underlying cognitive processes, we propose that all meditative techniques could share a central process that (...) would be supported by a core network for meditation since their general common goal is to induce relaxation, regulating attention and developing an attitude of detachment from one’s own thoughts. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a quantitative meta-analysis based on activation likelihood estimation of 10 neuroimaging studies on different meditative techniques to evidence the core cortical network subserving meditation. We showed activation of basal ganglia , limbic system and medial prefrontal cortex . We discuss the functional role of these structures in meditation and we tentatively propose a neurocognitive model of meditation that could guide future research. (shrink)
In this paper, I investigate the variety and richness of the taxonomical practices between the end of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. During these decades, zoologists and paleontologists came up with different quantitative practices in order to classify their data in line with the new biological principles introduced by Charles Darwin. Specifically, I will investigate Florentino Ameghino’s mathematization of mammalian dentition and the quantitative practices and visualizations of several German-speaking paleontologists at the beginning of the twentieth century. In (...) so doing, this paper will call attention to the visual and quantitative language of early twentieth-century systematics. My analysis will therefore contribute to a prehistory of the statistical frame of mind in biology, a study which has yet to be written in full. Second, my work highlights the productive intertwinement between biological practices and philosophical frameworks at the turn of the nineteenth century. Deeply rooted in Kantian bio-philosophy, several biologists sought to find rules in order to apply ordering principles to chaotic taxonomic information. This implies the necessity to investigate the neglected role of Kantian and Romantic bio-philosophy in the unfolding of twentieth-century biology. (shrink)