This is a new volume of original essays on the metaphysics of quantum mechanics. The essays address questions such as: What fundamental metaphysics is best motivated by quantum mechanics? What is the ontological status of the wave function? Does quantum mechanics support the existence of any other fundamental entities, e.g. particles? What is the nature of the fundamental space of quantum mechanics? What is the relationship between the fundamental ontology of quantum mechanics and ordinary, macroscopic objects like tables, chairs, and (...) persons? This collection includes a comprehensive introduction with a history of quantum mechanics and the debate over its metaphysical interpretation focusing especially on the main realist alternatives. (shrink)
There is not much of a consensus on almost anything about quantum mechanics. I take it, however, that the minimum consensus is that "although quantum mechanics is empirically successful, quantum mechanics is hard to understand." Quantum mechanics, in the way it is presented in most textbooks, does indeed not provide a clear picture of reality that would make it a theory to be understood. In her new book, "The World in the Wave Function: A Metaphysics for Quantum Physics," Alyssa Ney (...) tries to make this blurry picture of reality more precise, even if this picture will turn out to be heterodox and unfamiliar. (shrink)
DIVIn The State Park Movement in America, Ney Landrum, recipient of almost two dozen honors and awards for his service to state and national parks, places the movement for state parks in the context of the movements for urban and local ...
Jaegwon Kim has argued that unless mental events are reducible to subvening physical events, they are at best overdeterminers of their effects. Recently, nonreductive physicalists have endorsed this consequence claiming that the relationship between mental events and their physical bases is tight enough to render any such overdetermination nonredundant, and hence benign. I focus on instances of this strategy that appeal to the notion of constitution. Ultimately, I argue that there is no way to understand the relationship between irreducible mental (...) events and their physical bases such as to both eliminate causal redundancy and preserve the efficacy of mental events. (shrink)
"What are the ontological implications of quantum theories, that is, what do they tell us about the fundamental objects that make up our world? How should quantum theories make us reevaluate our classical conceptions of the basic constitution of material objects and ourselves? Is there fundamental quantum nonlocality? This book articulates several rival approaches to answering these questions, ultimately defending the wave function realist approach. It is a way of interpreting quantum theories so that the central object they describe is (...) the quantum wave function, interpreted as a field, and that the nonseparability and nonlocality we seem to find in quantum mechanics are ultimately manifestations of a more intuitive, separable and local picture in higher dimensions. quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, wave function, wave function realism, measurement problem, macro-object problem, primitive ontology, quantum entanglement, quantum nonlocality, quantum ontology"--. (shrink)
This is a new volume of original essays on the metaphysics of quantum mechanics. The essays address questions such as: What fundamental metaphysics is best motivated by quantum mechanics? What is the ontological status of the wave function? What is the nature of the fundamental space (or space-time manifold) of quantum mechanics?
Metaphysics: An Introduction combines comprehensive coverage of the core elements of metaphysics with contemporary and lively debates within the subject. It provides a rigorous and yet accessible overview of a rich array of topics , connecting the abstract nature of metaphysics with the real world. Topics covered include: Basic logic for metaphysics An introduction to ontologyobjects Material objects Critiques of metaphysics Free Will Time Modality Persistence Causation Social ontology: the metaphysics of race This outstanding book not only equips the reader (...) with a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of metaphysics but provides a valuable guide to contemporary metaphysics and metaphysicians. Additional features such as exercises, annotated further reading, a glossary and a companion website www.routledge.com/cw/ney will help students find their way around this subject and assist teachers in the classroom. (shrink)
This is a commentary on Mathias Frisch's book Causal Reasoning in Physics (Cambridge 2014). This commentary was presented at the 2016 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in a session sponsored by the Society for the Metaphysics of Science.
Metaphors abound in both the arts and in science. Due to the traditional division between these enterprises as one concerned with aesthetic values and the other with epistemic values there has unfortunately been very little work on the relation between metaphors in the arts and sciences. In this paper, we aim to remedy this omission by defending a continuity thesis regarding the function of metaphor across both domains, that is, metaphors fulfill any of the same functions in science as they (...) do in the arts. Importantly, this involves the claim that metaphors in arts as well as science have both epistemic and aesthetic functions. (shrink)
Dual process theories conceive human thinking as an interplay between heuristic processes that operate automatically and analytic processes that demand cognitive effort. The interaction between these two types of processes is poorly understood. De Neys and Glumicic (2008) recently found that most of the time heuristic processes are successfully monitored. This monitoring, however, would not demand as many cognitive resources as the analytic thinking that is needed to solve reasoning problems. In the present study we tested the crucial assumption about (...) the effortless nature of the monitoring process directly. Participants solved base-rate neglect problems in which heuristic and analytic processes cued a conflicting response or not. Half of the participants reasoned under a secondary task load. A surprise recall task was used as an implicit measure of whether the participants detected the conflict in the problems. Results showed that, even under load, base-rate recall performance was better for conflict problems than for no-conflict problems. Although participants made more reasoning errors under load, recall of the conflict problems was not affected by the working memory load. These findings support the claim about the successful and undemanding nature of the conflict detection process during thinking. (shrink)
Influential work on reasoning and decision-making has popularised the idea that sound reasoning requires correction of fast, intuitive thought processes by slower and more demanding deliberation. We present seven studies that question this corrective view of human thinking. We focused on the very problem that has been widely featured as the paradigmatic illustration of the corrective view, the well-known bat-and-ball problem. A two-response paradigm in which people were required to give an initial response under time pressure and cognitive load allowed (...) us to identify the presumed intuitive response that preceded the final response given after deliberation. Across our studies, we observe that correct final responses are often non-corrective in nature. Many reasoners who manage to answer the bat-and-ball problem correctly after deliberation already solved it correctly when they reasoned under conditions that minimised deliberation in the initial response phase. This suggests that sound bat-and-ball reasoners do not necessarily need to deliberate to correct their intuitions; their intuitions are often already correct. Pace the corrective view, findings suggest that in these cases, they deliberate to verify correct intuitive insights. (shrink)
Realists wanting to capture the facts of quantum entanglement in a metaphysical interpretation find themselves faced with several options: to grant some species of fundamental nonseparability, adopt holism, or to view localized spacetime systems as ultimately reducible to a higher-dimensional entity, the quantum state or wave function. Those adopting the latter approach and hoping to view the macroscopic world as grounded in the quantum wave function face the macro-object problem. The challenge is to articulate the metaphysical relation obtaining between three-dimensional (...) macro-objects and the wave function so that the latter may be seen in some sense as constituting the former. This paper distinguishes several strategies for doing so and defends one based on a notion of partial instantiation. (shrink)
This paper aims to establish that time travel into the past is, at best, highly improbable. It does this by first establishing the causal dependency of identity relations for a person or object travelling into the past. The paper then goes on to show how hard it is to avoid a closed causal loop in time travel experiments, and the inherently contradictory nature of said loops. It then raises the question of how such loops could be avoided without affecting the (...) identity requirements of the traveller, thus drawing the conclusion that while, strictly speaking, time travel has not been proved impossible, the combination of circumstance required to avoid contradiction is so unlikely as to render such activity highly improbable. (shrink)
This paper defends wave function realism against the charge that the view is empirically incoherent because our evidence for quantum theory involves facts about objects in three-dimensional space or space-time . It also criticizes previous attempts to defend wave function realism against this charge by claiming that the wave function is capable of grounding local beables as elements of a derivative ontology.
Some philosophers argue that many contemporary debates in metaphysics are “illegitimate,” “shallow,” or “trivial,” and that “contemporary analytic metaphysics, a professional activity engaged in by some extremely intelligent and morally serious people, fails to qualify as part of the enlightened pursuit of objective truth, and should be discontinued” (Ladyman and Ross, Every thing must go: Metaphysics naturalized , 2007 ). Many of these critics are explicit about their sympathies with Rudolf Carnap and his circle, calling themselves ‘neo-positivists’ or ‘neo-Carnapians.’ Yet (...) despite the fact that one of the main conclusions of logical positivism was that metaphysical statements are meaningless, many of these neo-positivists are themselves engaged in metaphysical projects. This paper aims to clarify how we may see a neo-positivist metaphysics as proceeding in good faith, one that starts with serious engagement with the findings of science, particularly fundamental physics, but also has room for traditional, armchair methods. (shrink)
There are now several, realist versions of quantum mechanics on offer. On their most straightforward, ontological interpretation, these theories require the existence of an object, the wavefunction, which inhabits an extremely high-dimensional space known as configuration space. This raises the question of how the ordinary three-dimensional space of our acquaintance fits into the ontology of quantum mechanics. Recently, two strategies to address this question have emerged. First, Tim Maudlin, Valia Allori, and her collaborators argue that what I have just called (...) the ‘most straightforward’ interpretation of quantum mechanics is not the correct one. Rather, the correct interpretation of realist quantum mechanics has it describing the world as containing objects that inhabit the ordinary three-dimensional space of our manifest image. By contrast, David Albert and Barry Loewer maintain the straightforward, wavefunction ontology of quantum mechanics, but attempt to show how ordinary, three-dimensional space may in a sense be contained within the high-dimensional configuration space the wavefunction inhabits. This paper critically examines these attempts to locate the ordinary, three-dimensional space of our manifest image “within” the ontology of quantum mechanics. I argue that we can recover most of our manifest image, even if we cannot recover our familiar three-dimensional space. (shrink)
This article discusses recent disagreements over the correct formulation of physicalism. Although there appears to be a consensus outside those who discuss the issue that physicalists believe that what exists is what is countenanced by physics, as we will see, this orthodoxy faces an important puzzle now frequently referred to as 'Hempel's Dilemma'. After surveying the historical trajectory from Enlightenment-era materialism to contemporary physicalism, I examine several mainstream approaches that respond to Hempel's dilemma, and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
It is widely noted that physicalism, taken as the doctrine that the world contains just what physics says it contains, faces a dilemma which, some like Tim Crane and D.H. Mellor have argued, shows that “physicalism is the wrong answer to an essentially trivial question”. I argue that both problematic horns of this dilemma drop out if one takes physicalism not to be a doctrine of the kind that might be true, false, or trivial, but instead an attitude or oath (...) one takes to formulate one’s ontology solely according to the current posits of physics. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between physical theories of causation and theories of difference-making. It is plausible to think that such theories are compatible with one another as they are aimed at different targets: the former, an empirical account of actual causal relations; the latter, an account that will capture the truth of most of our ordinary causal claims. The question then becomes: what is the relationship between physical causation and difference-making? Is one kind of causal fact more fundamental than (...) the other? This paper defends causal foundationalism: the view that facts about difference-making are dependent on the obtaining of facts about physical causation. However, the paper's main goal is to clarify the structure of the debate. At the end of the paper, it is shown how settling the issue about the relationship between physical theories of causation and theories of difference-making has more than mere intrinsic interest in unifying the very different pursuits that have been undertaken in the philosophy of causation. It can help to break a stalemate that has arisen in the current debate about mental causation. (shrink)
Within the field of quantum gravity, there is an influential research program developing the connection between quantum entanglement and spatiotemporal distance. Quantum information theory gives us highly refined tools for quantifying quantum entanglement such as the entanglement entropy. Through a series of well-confirmed results, it has been shown how these facts about the entanglement entropy of component systems may be connected to facts about spatiotemporal distance. Physicists are seeing these results as yielding promising methods for better understanding the emergence of (...) (the dynamical) spacetime (of general relativity) from more fundamental quantum theories, and moreover, as promising for the development of a nonperturbative theory of quantum gravity. However, to what extent does the case for the entanglement entropy-distance link provide evidence that spacetime structure is nonfundamental and emergent from nongravitational degrees of freedom? I will show that a closer look at the results lends support only to a weaker conclusion, that the facts about quantum entanglement are constrained by facts about spatiotemporal distance, and not that they are the basis from which facts about spatiotemporal distance emerge. (shrink)
Physicalism is sometimes portrayed by its critics as a dogma, but there is an empirical argument for the position, one based on the accumulation of diverse microphysical causal explanations in physics, chemistry, and physiology. The canonical statement of this argument was presented in 2001 by David Papineau. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate a tension that arises between this way of understanding the empirical case for physicalism and a view that is becoming practically a received position in philosophy (...) of physics: that microphysics does not support the existence of causal facts (and so does not support causal explanations). Indeed this is a conclusion embraced in recent work by Papineau himself. This paper examines a range of natural ways of avoiding this tension and reconciling the empirical case for physicalism with the rejection of microphysical causation. (shrink)
In this commentary, I warn against a possible dual process misconception that might lead people to conclude that utilitarian judgments are normatively correct. I clarify how the misconception builds on (1) the association between System 2 and normativity in the dual process literature on logical/probabilistic reasoning, and (2) the classification of utilitarian judgments as resulting from System 2 processing in the dual process model of moral reasoning. I present theoretical and empirical evidence against both premises.
One motivation for preferring the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics over realist rivals, such as collapse and hidden variables theories, is that the interpretation is able to preserve locality (in the sense of no action at a distance) in a way these other theories cannot. The primary goal of this paper is to make this argument for the many worlds interpretation precise, in a way that does not rely on controversial assumptions about the metaphysics of many worlds.
Human reasoning is often conceived as an interplay between a more intuitive and deliberate thought process. In the last 50 years, influential fast-and-slow dual-process models that capitalize on this distinction have been used to account for numerous phenomena – from logical reasoning biases, over prosocial behavior, to moral decision making. The present paper clarifies that despite the popularity, critical assumptions are poorly conceived. My critique focuses on two interconnected foundational issues: the exclusivity and switch feature. The exclusivity feature refers to (...) the tendency to conceive intuition and deliberation as generating unique responses such that one type of response is assumed to be beyond the capability of the fast-intuitive processing mode. I review the empirical evidence in key fields and show that there is no solid ground for such exclusivity. The switch feature concerns the mechanism by which a reasoner can decide to shift between more intuitive and deliberate processing. I present an overview of leading switch accounts and show that they are conceptually problematic – precisely because they presuppose exclusivity. I build on these insights to sketch the groundwork for a more viable dual-process architecture and illustrate how it can set a new research agenda to advance the field in the coming years. (shrink)
*A shortened version of this paper will appear in Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science, Dasgupta and Weslake, eds. Routledge.* This paper describes the case that can be made for a high-dimensional ontology in quantum mechanics based on the virtues of avoiding both nonseparability and non locality.
Two experiments examined the contribution of working memory (WM) to the retrieval and inhibition of background knowledge about counterexamples (alternatives and disablers, Cummins, ) during conditional reasoning. Experiment 1 presented a conditional reasoning task with everyday, causal conditionals to a group of people with high and low WM spans. High spans rejected the logically invalid AC and DA inferences to a greater extent than low spans, whereas low spans accepted the logically valid MP and MT inferences less frequently than high (...) spans. In Experiment 2, an executive-attention-demanding secondary task was imposed during the reasoning task. Findings corroborate that WM resources are used for retrieval of stored counterexamples and that people with high WM spans will use WM resources to inhibit the counterexample activation when the type of counterexample conflicts with the logical validity of the reasoning problem. (shrink)
In this commentary, I highlight the relevance of Cushman's target article for the popular dual-process framework of thinking. I point to the problematic characterization of rationalization in traditional dual-process models and suggest that in line with recent advances, Cushman's rational rationalization account offers a way out of the rationalization paradox.
What justifies the allocation of funding to research in physics when many would argue research in the life and social sciences may have more immediate impact in transforming our world for the better? Many of the justifications for such spending depend on the claim that physics enjoys a kind of special status vis-a-vis the other sciences, that physics or at least some branches of physics exhibit a form of fundamentality. The goal of this paper is to articulate a conception of (...) fundamentality that can support such justifications. I argue that traditional conceptions of fundamentality in terms of dynamical or ontic completeness rest on mistaken assumptions about the nature and scope of physical explanations. (shrink)
that the properties of science are purely extrinsic with the metaphysical principle that substances must also have intrinsic properties, the arguments reach the conclusion that there are intrinsic properties of whose natures we cannot know. It is the goal of this paper to establish that such arguments are not just ironic but extremely problematic. The optimistic physicalist principles that help get the argument off the ground ultimately undermine any justification the premises give for acceptance of the conclusion. Though I do (...) find these arguments unsound, it is nevertheless worthwhile to consider them in order to see more clearly what should be the methodology of the philosopher inclined to take the discoveries of physical science as having ontological authority. And, I hope, what follows will prompt the physicalist to ask herself – what room _is_ there for metaphysics once physical science is complete? (shrink)
Configuration space representations have utility in physics but are not generally taken to have ontological significance. We examine one salient reason to think configuration space representations fail to be relevant in determining the fundamental ontology of a physical theory. This is based on a claim due to several authors that fundamental theories must have primitive ontologies. This claim would,if correct, have broad ramifications for how to read metaphysics from physical theory. We survey ways of understanding the argument for a primitive (...) ontology in order to assess the case against configuration space realism. (shrink)
The Western cultural consensus based on the ideas of free markets and individualism has led many social scientists to consider poverty as a personal experience, a deprivation of material things, and a failure of just distribution. Mary Douglas and Steven Ney find this dominant tradition of social thought about poverty and well-being to be full of contradictions. They argue that the root cause is the impoverished idea of the human person inherited through two centuries of intellectual history, and that two (...) principles, the idea of the solipsist self and the idea of objectivity, cause most of the contradictions. Douglas and Ney state that Economic Man, from its semitechnical niche in eighteenth-century economic theory, has taken over the realms of psychology, consumption, public assistance, political science, and philosophy. They say that by distorting the statistical data presented for policy analysis, the ideas of the solipsist self and objectivity indeed often protect a political bias. The authors propose to correct this by revising the current model of the person. Taking cultural bias into account and giving full play to political dissent, they restore the "persons" who have been missing from the social science debates. Drawing from anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology, the authors set forth a fundamental critique of the social sciences. Their book will find a wide audience among social scientists and will also interest anyone engaged in current discussions of poverty. This book is a copublication with the Russell Sage Foundation. (shrink)
In his article, ‘Social constructionism and climate science denial’, Hansson claims to present empirical evidence that the cultural theory developed by Dame Mary Douglas, Aaron Wildavsky and ourselves leads to science denial. In this reply, we show that there is no validity to these claims. First, we show that Hansson’s empirical evidence that cultural theory has led to climate science denial falls apart under closer inspection. Contrary to Hansson’s claims, cultural theory has made significant contributions to understanding and addressing climate (...) change. Second, we discuss various features of Douglas’ cultural theory that differentiate it from other constructivist approaches and make it compatible with the scientific method. Thus, we also demonstrate that cultural theory cannot be accused of epistemic relativism. (shrink)