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Michael Esfeld [128]Michael Andreas Esfeld [1]
  1. Moderate Structural Realism About Space-Time.Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam - 2008 - 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 structural realism. (...)
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  2.  43
    Quantum Humeanism, Or: Physicalism Without Properties.Michael Esfeld - 2014 - Philosophical Quarterly 64 (256):453-470.
    In recent literature, it has become clear that quantum physics does not refute Humeanism: Lewis’s thesis of Humean supervenience can be literally true even in the light of quantum entanglement. This point has so far been made with respect to Bohm’s quantum theory. Against this background, this paper seeks to achieve the following four results: to generalize the option of quantum Humeanism from Bohmian mechanics to primitive ontology theories in general; to show that this option applies also to classical mechanics; (...)
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  3.  22
    Moderate Structural Realism About Space-Time.Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam - 2008 - 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 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 (...)
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  4. Quantum Entanglement and a Metaphysics of Relations.Michael Esfeld - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 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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  5. GRW as an Ontology of Dispositions.Mauro Dorato & Michael Esfeld - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 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. Ontic Structural Realism as a Metaphysics of Objects.Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam - 2011 - In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 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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  7. The Modal Nature of Structures in Ontic Structural Realism.Michael Esfeld - 2009 - 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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  8.  8
    A Persistent Particle Ontology for QFT in Terms of the Dirac Sea.Dirk-André Deckert, Michael Esfeld & Andrea Oldofredi - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    We show that the Bohmian approach in terms of persisting particles that move on continuous trajectories following a deterministic law can be literally applied to QFT. By means of the Dirac sea model – exemplified in the electron sector of the standard model neglecting radiation – we explain how starting from persisting particles, one is led to standard QFT employing creation and annihilation operators when tracking the dynamics with respect to a reference state, the so-called vacuum. Since on the level (...)
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  9.  84
    A Dilemma for the Emergence of Spacetime in Canonical Quantum Gravity.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - 2013 - 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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  10. The Structural Metaphysics of Quantum Theory and General Relativity.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - 2012 - 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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  11. Ontic Structural Realism and the Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Michael Esfeld - 2013 - 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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  12.  56
    Primitive Ontology and Quantum State in the GRW Matter Density Theory.Matthias Egg & Michael Esfeld - 2015 - 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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  13.  58
    Leibnizian Relationalism for General Relativistic Physics.Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics:101-107.
    An ontology of Leibnizian relationalism, consisting in distance relations among sparse matter points and their change only, is well recognized as a serious option in the context of classical mechanics. In this paper, we investigate how this ontology fares when it comes to general relativistic physics. Using a Humean strategy, we regard the gravitational field as a means to represent the overall change in the distance relations among point particles in a way that achieves the best combination of being simple (...)
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  14.  52
    Non-Local Common Cause Explanations for EPR.Matthias Egg & Michael Esfeld - 2014 - 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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  15.  46
    The GRW Flash Theory: A Relativistic Quantum Ontology of Matter in Space-Time?Michael Esfeld & Nicolas Gisin - 2014 - 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.  5
    Quantum Entanglement and a Metaphysics of Relations.Michael Esfeld - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 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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  17. Holism in Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Physics.Michael Esfeld - 2001
     
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  18. Theory Reduction by Means of Functional Sub-Types.Michael Esfeld & Christian Sachse - 2007 - 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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  19.  46
    The Primitive Ontology of Quantum Physics: Guidelines for an Assessment of the Proposals.Michael Esfeld - 2014 - 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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  20. Quantum Physics, Causation, and the Grw Dynamics.Michael Esfeld - unknown
    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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  21.  61
    On the Importance of Interpretation in Quantum Physics. A Reply to Elise Crull.Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld - 2015 - 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. Do Relations Require Underlying Intrinsic Properties? A Physical Argument for a Metaphysics of Relations.Michael Esfeld - 2003 - Metaphysica: International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics 4 (1):5-25.
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  23.  6
    A Dilemma for the Emergence of Spacetime in Canonical Quantum Gravity.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: 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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  24.  3
    A Dilemma For The Emergence Of Spacetime In Canonical Quantum Gravity.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: 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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  25.  11
    Metaphysics of Science as Naturalized Metaphysics.Michael Esfeld - 2018 - In Anouk Barberousse, Denis Bonnay & Mikael Cozic (eds.), The philosophy of science. A companion. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press. pp. 142-170.
    This chapter outlines a metaphysics of science in the sense of a naturalized metaphysics. It considers in the first place the interplay of physics and metaphysics in Newtonian mechanics, then goes into the issues for the metaphysics of time that relativity physics raises, shows that what one considers as the referent of quantum theory depends on metaphysical considerations and finally explains how the stance that one takes with respect to objective modality and laws of nature shapes the options that are (...)
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  26.  52
    The Physics and Metaphysics of Primitive Stuff.Michael Esfeld, Dustin Lazarovici, Vincent Lam & Mario Hubert - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):133-61.
    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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  27. The Rehabilitation of a Metaphysics of Nature.Michael Esfeld - unknown
    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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  28. Naturphilosophie Als Metaphysik der Natur.Michael Esfeld - 2008 - Suhrkamp.
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  29. Causal Overdetermination for Humeans?Michael Esfeld - 2010 - 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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  30. A Proposal for a Bohmian Ontology of Quantum Gravity.Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld - 2013 - 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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  31. Humean Metaphysics Versus a Metaphysics of Powers.Michael Esfeld - 2010 - In Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 119.
  32. Structures as the Objects of Fundamental Physics.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - unknown
    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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  33. Physics and Causation.Michael Esfeld - 2010 - 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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  34. Mental Causation and the Metaphysics of Causation.Michael Esfeld - 2007 - 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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  35. Conservative Reductionism.Michael Esfeld & Christian Sachse - 2011 - Routledge.
    _Conservative Reductionism_ sets out a new theory of the relationship between physics and the special sciences within the framework of functionalism. It argues that it is wrong-headed to conceive an opposition between functional and physical properties and to build an anti-reductionist argument on multiple realization. By contrast, all properties that there are in the world, including the physical ones, are functional properties in the sense of being causal properties, and all true descriptions that the special sciences propose can in principle (...)
     
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  36. Holism and Analytic Philosophy.Michael Esfeld - 1998 - 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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  37.  92
    Psycho-Neural Reduction Through Functional Sub-Types.Patrice Soom, Christian Sachse & Michael Esfeld - unknown
    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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  38.  22
    The Structure of the World: Metaphysics and Representation, by Steven French.Michael Esfeld - 2015 - Mind 124 (493):334-338.
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  39.  7
    GRW as an Ontology of Dispositions.Mauro Dorato & Michael Esfeld - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (1):41-49.
    The paper argues that the formulation of quantum mechanics proposed by Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber 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 it provides for a clear sense in which quantum systems in entangled states possess properties (...)
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  40.  19
    On the Possibility of a Realist Ontological Commitment in Quantum Mechanics.Andrea Oldofredi & Michael Andreas Esfeld - unknown
    This paper reviews the structure of standard quantum mechanics, introducing the basics of the von Neumann-Dirac axiomatic formulation as well as the well-known Copenhagen interpretation. We review also the major conceptual difficulties arising from this theory, first and foremost, the well-known measurement problem. The main aim of this essay is to show the possibility to solve the conundrums affecting quantum mechanics via the methodology provided by the primitive ontology approach. Using Bohmian mechanics as an example, the paper argues for a (...)
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  41.  73
    Causal Properties and Conservative Reduction.Michael Esfeld - unknown
    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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  42. Is Quantum Indeterminism Relevant to Free Will?Michael Esfeld - 2000 - 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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  43.  10
    Authors’ Response: The Virtues of Minimalism in Ontology and Epistemology.Michael Esfeld & Dirk-André Deckert - 2018 - Metascience 27 (3):443-451.
    The paper sets out and defends against criticism the claims argued for in the book A minimalist ontology of the natural world.
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  44.  70
    Relationalism About Mechanics Based on a Minimalist Ontology of Matter.Antonio Vassallo, Dirk-André Deckert & Michael Esfeld - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-20.
    This paper elaborates on relationalism about space and time as motivated by a minimalist ontology of the physical world: there are only matter points that are individuated by the distance relations among them, with these relations changing. We assess two strategies to combine this ontology with physics, using classical mechanics as example: the Humean strategy adopts the standard, non-relationalist physical theories as they stand and interprets their formal apparatus as the means of bookkeeping of the change of the distance relations (...)
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  45. Metaphysics of Science Between Metaphysics and Science.Michael Esfeld - 2007 - 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.  38
    Consciousness & the Small Network Argument.Michael H. Herzog & Michael Esfeld - unknown
    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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  47. Mental Causation and Mental Properties.Michael Esfeld - 2005 - 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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  48. Comment on David Papineau, Can Any Sciences Be Special?Michael Esfeld - unknown
    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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  49.  46
    John Heil: Symposium on His Ontological Point of View.Michael Esfeld (ed.) - 2006 - 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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  50.  97
    The Metaphysics of Laws: Dispositionalism Vs. Primitivism.Mauro Dorato & Michael Esfeld - 2014 - 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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