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Samuel C. Fletcher [15]Samuel Craig Fletcher [1]
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Samuel C. Fletcher
University of Minnesota
  1.  8
    On the Reduction of General Relativity to Newtonian Gravitation.Samuel C. Fletcher - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
  2.  63
    Similarity, Topology, and Physical Significance in Relativity Theory.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):365-389.
    Stephen Hawking, among others, has proposed that the topological stability of a property of space-time is a necessary condition for it to be physically significant. What counts as stable, however, depends crucially on the choice of topology. Some physicists have thus suggested that one should find a canonical topology, a single ‘right’ topology for every inquiry. While certain such choices might be initially motivated, some little-discussed examples of Robert Geroch and some propositions of my own show that the main candidates—and (...)
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  3.  13
    On Representational Capacities, with an Application to General Relativity.Samuel C. Fletcher - forthcoming - Foundations of Physics:1-22.
    Recent work on the hole argument in general relativity by Weatherall has drawn attention to the neglected concept of models’ representational capacities. I argue for several theses about the structure of these capacities, including that they should be understood not as many-to-one relations from models to the world, but in general as many-to-many relations constrained by the models’ isomorphisms. I then compare these ideas with a recent argument by Belot for the claim that some isometries “generate new possibilities” in general (...)
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  4.  27
    Light Clocks and the Clock Hypothesis.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2013 - Foundations of Physics 43 (11):1369-1383.
    The clock hypothesis of relativity theory equates the proper time experienced by a point particle along a timelike curve with the length of that curve as determined by the metric. Is it possible to prove that particular types of clocks satisfy the clock hypothesis, thus genuinely measure proper time, at least approximately? Because most real clocks would be enormously complicated to study in this connection, focusing attention on an idealized light clock is attractive. The present paper extends and generalized partial (...)
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  5. What Counts as a Newtonian System? The View From Norton’s Dome.Samuel Craig Fletcher - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):275-297.
    If the force on a particle fails to satisfy a Lipschitz condition at a point, it relaxes one of the conditions necessary for a locally unique solution to the particle’s equation of motion. I examine the most discussed example of this failure of determinism in classical mechanics—that of Norton’s dome—and the range of current objections against it. Finding there are many different conceptions of classical mechanics appropriate and useful for different purposes, I argue that no single conception is preferred. Instead (...)
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  6.  42
    Physical Perspectives on Computation, Computational Perspectives on Physics.Michael E. Cuffaro & Samuel C. Fletcher (eds.) - 2018 - Cambridge University Press.
    Although computation and the science of physical systems would appear to be unrelated, there are a number of ways in which computational and physical concepts can be brought together in ways that illuminate both. This volume examines fundamental questions which connect scholars from both disciplines: is the universe a computer? Can a universal computing machine simulate every physical process? What is the source of the computational power of quantum computers? Are computational approaches to solving physical problems and paradoxes always fruitful? (...)
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  7.  9
    Which Worldlines Represent Possible Particle Histories?Samuel C. Fletcher - forthcoming - Foundations of Physics:1-18.
    Based on three common interpretive commitments in general relativity, I raise a conceptual problem for the usual identification, in that theory, of timelike curves as those that represent the possible histories of particles in spacetime. This problem affords at least three different solutions, depending on different representational and ontological assumptions one makes about the nature of particles, fields, and their modal structure. While I advocate for a cautious pluralism regarding these options, I also suggest that re-interpreting particles as field processes (...)
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  8.  16
    On Noncontextual, Non-Kolmogorovian Hidden Variable Theories.Benjamin H. Feintzeig & Samuel C. Fletcher - 2017 - Foundations of Physics 47 (2):294-315.
    One implication of Bell’s theorem is that there cannot in general be hidden variable models for quantum mechanics that both are noncontextual and retain the structure of a classical probability space. Thus, some hidden variable programs aim to retain noncontextuality at the cost of using a generalization of the Kolmogorov probability axioms. We generalize a theorem of Feintzeig to show that such programs are committed to the existence of a finite null cover for some quantum mechanical experiments, i.e., a finite (...)
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  9.  19
    Counterfactual Reasoning Within Physical Theories.Samuel C. Fletcher - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    If one is interested in reasoning counterfactually within a physical theory, one cannot adequately use the standard possible world semantics. As developed by Lewis and others, this semantics depends on entertaining possible worlds with miracles, worlds in which laws of nature, as described by physical theory, are violated. Van Fraassen suggested instead to use the models of a theory as worlds, but gave up on determining the needed comparative similarity relation for the semantics objectively. I present a third way, in (...)
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  10.  10
    Stopping Rules as Experimental Design.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):29.
    A “stopping rule” in a sequential experiment is a rule or procedure for deciding when that experiment should end. Accordingly, the “stopping rule principle” states that, in a sequential experiment, the evidential relationship between the final data and an hypothesis under consideration does not depend on the experiment’s stopping rule: the same data should yield the same evidence, regardless of which stopping rule was used. In this essay, I reconstruct and rebut five independent arguments for the SRP. Reminding oneself that (...)
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  11.  14
    Infinite Idealizations in Science: An Introduction.Samuel C. Fletcher, Patricia Palacios, Laura Ruetsche & Elay Shech - 2019 - Synthese 196 (5):1657-1669.
    We offer a framework for organizing the literature regarding the debates revolving around infinite idealizations in science, and a short summary of the contributions to this special issue.
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  12.  19
    Against the Topologists: Essay Review of New Foundations for Physical Gemoetry. [REVIEW]Samuel C. Fletcher - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (3):595-603.
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  13.  11
    Minimal Approximations and Norton’s Dome.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2019 - Synthese 196 (5):1749-1760.
    In this note, I apply Norton’s (Philos Sci 79(2):207–232, 2012) distinction between idealizations and approximations to argue that the epistemic and inferential advantages often taken to accrue to minimal models (Batterman in Br J Philos Sci 53:21–38, 2002) could apply equally to approximations, including “infinite” ones for which there is no consistent model. This shows that the strategy of capturing essential features through minimality extends beyond models, even though the techniques for justifying this extended strategy remain similar. As an application (...)
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  14.  6
    Would Two Dimensions Be World Enough for Spacetime?Samuel C. Fletcher, J. B. Manchak, Mike D. Schneider & James Owen Weatherall - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 63:100-113.
    We consider various curious features of general relativity, and relativistic field theory, in two spacetime dimensions. In particular, we discuss: the vanishing of the Einstein tensor; the failure of an initial-value formulation for vacuum spacetimes; the status of singularity theorems; the non-existence of a Newtonian limit; the status of the cosmological constant; and the character of matter fields, including perfect fluids and electromagnetic fields. We conclude with a discussion of what constrains our understanding of physics in different dimensions.
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  15. Discussion Notes on Physical Computation.Samuel C. Fletcher - unknown
    Much has been written as of late on the status of the physical Church- Turing thesis and the relation between physics and computer science in general. The following discussion will focus on one such article [5]. The purpose of these notes is not so much to argue for a particular thesis as it is to solicit a dialog that will help clarify our own thoughts.
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  16.  19
    Model Verification and the Likelihood Principle.Samuel C. Fletcher - unknown
    The likelihood principle is typically understood as a constraint on any measure of evidence arising from a statistical experiment. It is not sufficiently often noted, however, that the LP assumes that the probability model giving rise to a particular concrete data set must be statistically adequate—it must “fit” the data sufficiently. In practice, though, scientists must make modeling assumptions whose adequacy can nevertheless then be verified using statistical tests. My present concern is to consider whether the LP applies to these (...)
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