The concept of free will is central to our lives, as we make day-to-day decisions, and to our culture, in our ethical and legal systems. The very concept implies that what we choose can produce a change in our physical environment, whether by pressing a switch to turn out electric lights or choosing a long-term plan of action which can affect many people. Yet volition is not a part of presently known physicallaws and it is not (...) even known whether it exists -- no physics experiments have ever established its presence. The purpose of this article is to make two points: first, that free will cannot be accounted for by presently known physicallaws and second, that if free will exists, any description of its effects in the physical world would necessarily constitute a radical addition to presently known physicallaws. (shrink)
This article examines the role of experimental generalizations and physicallaws in neuroscientific explanations, using Hodgkin and Huxley’s electrophysiological model from 1952 as a test case. I show that the fact that the model was partly fitted to experimental data did not affect its explanatory status, nor did the false mechanistic assumptions made by Hodgkin and Huxley. The model satisfies two important criteria of explanatory status: it contains invariant generalizations and it is modular (both in James Woodward’s sense). (...) Further, I argue that there is a sense in which the explanatory heteronomy thesis holds true for this case. †To contact the author, please write to: SNF‐Professorship for Philosophy of Science, University of Basel, Missionsstrasse 21, 4003 Basel, Switzerland; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
I propose and motivate a new account of fundamental physicallaws, the Measurability Account of Laws (MAL). This account has a distinctive logical form, in that it takes the primary nomological concept to be that of a law relative to a given theory, and defines a law simpliciter as a law relative to some true theory. What makes a proposition a law relative to a theory is that it plays an indispensable role in demonstrating that some quantity (...) posited by that theory is measurable. In Section 1, I motivate the project of seeking a philosophical account of fundamental physicallaws, as opposed to laws of nature in general. In Section 2, I motivate seeking an account with the distinctive logical form of the MAL. In Section 3, I present the MAL and illustrate the way it works by applying it to a simple example. (shrink)
Our concept of the universe and the material world is foundational for our thinking and our moral lives. In an earlier contribution to the URAM project I presented what I called 'the ultimate organizational principle' of the universe. In that article (Grandpierre 2000, pp. 12-35) I took as an adversary the wide-spread system of thinking which I called 'materialism'. According to those who espouse this way of thinking, the universe consists of inanimate units or sets of material such as atoms (...) or elementary particles. Against this point of view on reality, I argued that it is 'logic', which exists in our inner world as a function of our mind, that is the universal organizing power of the universe. The present contribution builds upon this insight. Then I focussed on rationality; now I am interested in the responsibility that is the driving force behind our effort to find coherence and ultimate perspectives in our cosmos. It is shown that biology fundamentally differs from physics. Biology has its own fundamental principle, which is formulated for the first time in history in a scientific manner by Ervin Bauer. This fundamental principle is the cosmic life principle. I show that if one considers the physicallaws as corresponding to reality, as in scientific realism, than physicalism becomes fundamentally spiritual because the physicallaws are not material. I point out that the physicallaws originate from the fundamental principle of physics which is the least action principle. I show that the fundamental principle of physics can be considered as the "instinct of atoms". Our research has found deep and meaningful connections between the basic principle of physics and the ultimate principles of the universe: matter, life and reason. Therefore, the principle of least action is not necessarily an expression of sterile inanimateness. On the contrary, the principle of physics is related to the life principle of the universe, to the world of instincts behind the atomic world, in which the principles of physics, biology, and psychology arise from the same ultimate principle. Our research sheds new light to the sciences of physics, biology, and psychology in close relation to the basic principles. These ultimate principles have a primary importance in our understanding of the nature of Man and the Universe, together with the relations between Man and Nature, Man and the Universe. The results offer new foundations for our understanding our own role in the Earth, in the Nature and in the Universe. Even the apparently inanimate world of physics shows itself to be animate on long timescales and having a kind of pre- human consciousness in its basic organisation. This hypothesis offers a way to understand when and how the biological laws may direct physicallaws, and, moreover, offers a new perspective to study and understand under which conditions can self-consciousness govern the laws of biology and physics. This point of view offers living beings and humans the possibility of strengthening our natural identity, and recognising the wide perspective arising from having access to the deepest ranges of our own human resources and realising the task for which human and individual life has been created. (shrink)
In the literature on scientific explanation, there is a classical distinction between explanations of particular facts and explanations of laws. This paper is about explanations of laws, more specifically about microexplanations of laws in physics. We investigate whether providing unificatory information has a surplus value in micro-explanations of physicallaws. Unificatory information is information that provides ontological unification in the sense defined by Uskali Mäki. We argue that providing unificatory information may lead to explanations with (...) more explanatory power and that it may lead to more strongly supported explanations.En la literatura sobre explicación científica hay una distinción clásica entre explicaciones de hechos particulares y explicaciones de leyes. El presente artículo trata de las explicaciones de las leyes, más en concreto, de las microexplicaciones de las leyes en la física. Analizamos si proporcionar información unificadora posee un valor adicional en las microexplicaciones de las leyes físicas. La información unificadora es información que proporciona unificación ontológica en el sentido definido por Uskali Mäki. Argumentamos que proporcionar información unificadora puede llevar a explicaciones con mayor poder explicativo, y también a explicaciones más firmemente apoyadas. (shrink)
This paper argues that nonphysical souls would violate fundamental physicallaws if they were able to influence brain events. Though we have no idea how nonphysical souls might operate, we know quite a bit about how brains work, so we can consider each of the ways that an external force could interrupt brain processes enough to control one’s body. It concludes that there is no way that a nonphysical soul could interact with the brain—neither by introducing new energy (...) into the physical world, nor by borrowing existing energy from it—without apparently violating one or more basic laws of physics, such as the law of conservation of energy. And despite widespread appeals to quantum mechanics to give interactionism an air of scientific respectability, the essential randomness of quantum processes prohibits the distinctly nonrandom influence that a nonphysical soul must have on brain events in order to control the body, and quantum mechanical uncertainty is not great enough to allow neurons to fire action potentials. -/- 1. Introduction -- 2. How the Brain Works -- 3. Mind-Brain Interaction Mechanisms - 3.1 Opening Sodium Channels - 3.2 Altering Voltage Gradients - 3.3 Synaptic Transmission - 3.3.1 The Presynaptic Neuron - 3.3.2 The Post-Synaptic Neuron - 3.3.3 The Beck and Eccles Models - 3.4 Neuronal Modulation - 3.5 Self-Generation of Action Potentials by Neurons -- 4. Harnessing Energy -- 5. How Many Action Potentials for a Volitional Act? -- 6. Input: From Brain to Nonphysical Mind -- 7. Discussion -- Appendix A: Opening Gates on Membrane Channels - A.1 Directly Opening Gates - A.2 Changing Voltage Across the Membrane -- Appendix B: The Biochemical Approach. (shrink)
If mind is not a part of the physical universe but is able to influence brain events, then violations of physicallaws should occur at points of such mental influence. Using current knowledge of how the nervous system functions, the minimal necessary magnitude of such violations is examined. A variety of influences that could produce action potentials is considered, including the direct opening of sodium channels in membranes, the triggering of release of neurotransmitter at synapses, the opening (...) of postsynaptic, ligand-gated channels, and the control of neuromodulation. It is shown that the magnitude of the disturbance required is significantly greater than allowed for under quantum-mechanical uncertainty. It is concluded that violations of fundamental physicallaws, such as energy conservation, would occur were a non-physical mind able to influence brain and behaviour. (shrink)
We investigate the way physicallaws objectively refer to the entities they are about. Laws of mathematical physics do not refer directly to the “real world” but to an ideal specific domain of objects, which we term “scope”. In order to find out which real objects physicallaws deal with, reference to the scope is not sufficient. We need in addition the search for domains to which laws apply — i. e. “empirical domains”— in (...) order to establish their reference to the “real world”. It is just in such empirical domains that we are able to discover the real entities physicallaws objectively refer to. “Physical reality” turns out to be not something “given” but rather something “to come out” of the very process of scientific inquiry. (shrink)
Abstract Intentional mental states have causes and effects. Davidson has shown that this fact alone does not entail the existence of psycho?physicallaws, but his anomalism makes the connection between the content and causation of intentional states utterly mysterious. By defining intentional states in terms of their causes and effects, functionalism promises to explain this connection. If intentional states have their causes and effects in virtue of their contents, then there must be intrinsic states (of the people who (...) have them) which are ?local causal surrogates? for the propositions believed, desired, or whatever. We can define these intrinsic states in terms of the laws that govern them, but these laws alone are not sufficient to account for intentional content. To do that we need to invoke laws which link these intrinsic states with their contents. Such a ?wide? functional account is sketched; it combines a suggestion of Ramsey's about truth conditions with a ?feedback? account of the content of desires. (shrink)
SummaryWe investigate the way physicallaws objectively refer to the entities they are about. Laws of mathematical physics do not refer directly to the “real world” but to an ideal specific domain of objects, which we term “scope”. In order to find out which real objects physicallaws deal with, reference to the scope is not sufficient. We need in addition the search for domains to which laws apply — i. e. “empirical domains”— in (...) order to establish their reference to the “real world”. It is just in such empirical domains that we are able to discover the real entities physicallaws objectively refer to. “Physical reality” turns out to be not something “given” but rather something “to come out” of the very process of scientific inquiry. (shrink)
According to the great discovery by e. noether in 1918 there exists an intrinsic connection between the mathematical symmetries of the laws of nature and the conservation laws. the two kinds of symmetries, namely the continuous and the discrete ones, are discussed. the physical background of these symmetries is illustrated. finally, we sketch some topical conservation problems in elementary particle physics.
The physicist not only observes phenomena, but he also has an active role in the formulation of some laws. For instance, laws involving irreversibility refer explicitly to what can or cannot be done by physicists. As the abilities of the latter may vary, we obtain sequences of laws, the convergence of which is discussed.
Laws of mechanics, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, gravitation and relativity are derived as “related mathematical identities” based solely on the existence of a joint probability distribution for the position and velocity of a particle moving on a Riemannian manifold. This probability formalism is necessary because continuous variables are not precisely observable. These demonstrations explain why these laws must have the forms previously discovered through experiment and empirical deduction. Indeed, the very existence of electric, magnetic and gravitational fields is predicted (...) by these purely mathematical constructions. Furthermore these constructions incorporate gravitation into special relativity theory and provide corrected definitions for coordinate time and proper time. These constructions then provide new insight into the relationship between manifold geometry and gravitation and present an alternative to Einstein’s general relativity theory. (shrink)
o an outsider, nothing might seem more ridiculous than the spectacle of grown men and women sitting around a conference table soberly discussing what would happen if a volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica were dropped down a black hole. Yet this very question lies at the heart of the "information paradox," a seeming contradiction to the laws of physics that is causing scientists to re-examine some of their most basic assumptions about how the universe is made.
Not much. I demonstrate this by constructing a model of a memory system governed by deterministic, time reversible laws only, thereby showing that the mere fact of our having memories solely of the past does not necessitate an indeterministic, time asymmetric or stochastic physics, essentially thermodynamic processes or a primitive notion of time asymmetric causation.
We review studies on catching that reveal internalization of physics for action control. In catching free-falling balls, an internal model of gravity is used by the brain to time anticipatory muscle activation, modulation of reflex responses, and tuning of limb impedance. An internal model of the expected momentum of the ball at impact is used to scale the amplitude of anticipatory muscle activity. [Barlow; Hecht; Shepard].
Philosophers intent upon characterizing the difference between physics and biology often seize upon the purported fact that physical explanations conform more closely to the covering law model than biological explanations. Central to this purported difference is the role of laws of nature in the explanations of these two sciences. However, I argue that, although certain important differences between physics and biology can be highlighted by differences between physical and biological explanations, these differences are not differences in the (...) degree to which those explanations conform to the covering law model, which fits biology about as well as it does physics. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the relationship between model, theories, and laws in the practice of experimental scale modeling. The methodology of experimental scale modeling, also known as physical similarity, differs markedly from that of other kinds of models in ways that are important to issues in philosophy of science. Scale models are not discussed in much depth in mainstream philosophy of science. In this paper, I examine how scale models are used in making inferences. The main question (...) I address in this talk is ``How are fundamental laws involved in the construction of, and inferences drawn from, experimental scale models?'' We shall see that there is a refreshing alternative to the mainstream view that models can serve only as intermediaries between theory and experiment. Using the methodology of scale models, one can use observations on one piece of the world to make inferences about another piece of the world, without involving an intermediate abstract model about which one reasons. The philosophical significance of that point to philosophy of science is that the method of physical similarity, which provides the basis for inferences based upon scale models, is a qualitatively different way in which fundamental laws can be used in analogical reasoning that is truly informative. Finally, as this method provides a formal basis for case-based reasoning, it may be helpful in formalizing methods used in some of the so-called ``special sciences''. (shrink)
Recent work on the history of General Relativity by Renn, Sauer, Janssen et al. shows that Einstein found his field equations partly by a physical strategy including the Newtonian limit, the electromagnetic analogy, and energy conservation. Such themes are similar to those later used by particle physicists. How do Einstein's physical strategy and the particle physics derivations compare? What energy-momentum complex did he use and why? Did Einstein tie conservation to symmetries, and if so, to which? How did (...) his work relate to emerging knowledge of the canonical energy-momentum tensor and its translation-induced conservation? After initially using energy-momentum tensors hand-crafted from the gravitational field equations, Einstein used an identity from his assumed linear coordinate covariance x'=Mx to relate it to the canonical tensor. Usually he avoided using matter Euler-Lagrange equations and so was not well positioned to use or reinvent the Herglotz-Mie-Born understanding that the canonical tensor was conserved due to translation symmetries, a result with roots in Lagrange, Hamilton and Jacobi. Whereas Mie and Born were concerned about the canonical tensor's asymmetry, Einstein did not need to worry because his Entwurf Lagrangian is modeled not so much on Maxwell's theory as on a scalar theory. Einstein's theory thus has a symmetric canonical energy-momentum tensor. But as a result, it also has 3 negative-energy field degrees of freedom. Thus the Entwurf theory fails a 1920s-30s a priori particle physics stability test with antecedents in Lagrange's and Dirichlet's stability work; one might anticipate possible gravitational instability. This critique of the Entwurf theory can be compared with Einstein's 1915 critique of his Entwurf theory for not admitting rotating coordinates and not getting Mercury's perihelion right. One can live with absolute rotation but cannot live with instability. Particle physics also can be useful in the historiography of gravity and space-time, both in assessing the growth of objective knowledge and in suggesting novel lines of inquiry to see whether and how Einstein faced the substantially mathematical issues later encountered in particle physics. This topic can be a useful case study in the history of science on recently reconsidered questions of presentism, whiggism and the like. Future work will show how the history of General Relativity, especially Noether's work, sheds light on particle physics. (shrink)
Standard philosophical accounts attempt to understand physical modality either in terms of special metaphysical entities and relationships or in terms of the organization of non-modal information, as in Best Systems Analysis. This paper defends an alternative to both these approaches in which invariance and various independence conditions play a central role. The methodological importance of separating law-claims from claims about initial and boundary conditions is highlighted.
Husserl holds the view that givenness through adumbrations (i.e. perspectival givenness) is an essential characteristic of the givenness of spatiotemporal things. He goes so far to say that we are dealing with an essential law. In this article I try to make sense of this claim. I am also dealing with a thought experiment that is designed to show that the givenness through adumbrations is just a consequence of our physiological make-up, a view that Husserl explicitly rejects. Amongst other things, (...) I defend Husserl by introducing the crucial distinction between first-person-imagination and third-person-imagination. (shrink)
Abstract Nominalists, denying the reality of anything over and above concreta, are committed to a reductive account of any law of nature, explaining its necessity?the fact that it not only holds for all actual instances, but would hold for any additional ones?in, for example, epistemic terms (its likelihood/certainty of holding beyond the already observed instances). Nominalists argue that the world would be no different without irreducible modalities. ?Modal realists? often object that this parallels a common phenomenalist argument against believing in (...) a mind?independent external world. However, phenomenalism without translatability into sensory language is incoherent, though any such translation is impossible. The ?as if philosophy is untenable as well. But it is quite possible to formulate inductive methodology's imperatives in non?modal terms. Modal realism purports to give a reason against inductive scepticism, but does not go beyond saying that there is one. (shrink)
The necessary but not sufficient conditions for biological informational concepts like signs, symbols, memories, instructions, and messages are (1) an object or referent that the information is about, (2) a physical embodiment or vehicle that stands for what the information is about (the object), and (3) an interpreter or agent that separates the referent information from the vehicle’s material structure, and that establishes the stands-for relation. This separation is named the epistemic cut, and explaining clearly how the stands-for relation (...) is realized is named the symbol-matter problem. (4) A necessary physical condition is that all informational vehicles are material boundary conditions or constraints acting on the lawful dynamics of local systems. It is useful to define a dependency hierarchy of information types: (1) syntactic information (i.e., communication theory), (2) heritable information acquired by variation and natural selection, (3) non-heritable learned or creative information, and (4) measured physical information in the context of natural laws. High information storage capacity is most reliably implemented by discrete linear sequences of non-dynamic vehicles, while the execution of information for control and construction is a non-holonomic dynamic process. The first epistemic cut occurs in self-replication. The first interpretation of base sequence information is by protein folding; the last interpretation of base sequence information is by natural selection. Evolution has evolved senses and nervous systems that acquire non-heritable information, and only very recently after billions of years, the competence for human language. Genetic and human languages are the only known complete general purpose languages. They have fundamental properties in common, but are entirely different in their acquisition, storage and interpretation. (shrink)