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Samuel C. Fletcher [18]Samuel Craig Fletcher [1]
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Samuel C. Fletcher
University of Minnesota
  1.  22
    On the Reduction of General Relativity to Newtonian Gravitation.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 68:1-15.
    Intertheoretic reduction in physics aspires to be both to be explanatory and perfectly general: it endeavors to explain why an older, simpler theory continues to be as successful as it is in terms of a newer, more sophisticated theory, and it aims to relate or otherwise account for as many features of the two theories as possible. Despite often being introduced as straightforward cases of intertheoretic reduction, candidate accounts of the reduction of general relativity to Newtonian gravitation have either been (...)
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  2.  78
    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.  27
    On Representational Capacities, with an Application to General Relativity.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2020 - Foundations of Physics 50 (4):228-249.
    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.  7
    Similarity Structure and Emergent Properties.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (2):281-301.
    The concept of emergence is commonly invoked in modern physics but rarely defined. Building on recent influential work by Jeremy Butterfield, I provide precise definitions of emergence concepts as they pertain to properties represented in models, applying them to some basic examples from space-time and thermostatistical physics. The chief formal innovation I employ, similarity structure, consists in a structured set of similarity relations among those models under analysis—and their properties—and is a generalization of topological structure. Although motivated from physics, this (...)
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  5.  17
    Modality in Physics.Samuel C. Fletcher - unknown
    This review concerns the notions of physical possibility and necessity as they are informed by contemporary physical theories and the reconstructive explications of past physical theories according to present standards. Its primary goal is twofold: first, to motivate and introduce a range of accessible issues of philosophical relevance around these notions; and second, to provide extensive references to the research literature on them. Although I will have occasion to comment on the direction and shape of this literature, pointing out certain (...)
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  6.  38
    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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  7. 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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  8.  58
    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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  9.  18
    The Principle of Stability.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20.
    How can inferences from models to the phenomena they represent be justified when those models represent only imperfectly? Pierre Duhem considered just this problem, arguing that inferences from mathematical models of phenomena to real physical applications must also be demonstrated to be approximately correct when the assumptions of the model are only approximately true. Despite being little discussed among philosophers, this challenge was taken up by mathematicians and physicists both contemporaneous with and subsequent to Duhem, yielding a novel and rich (...)
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  10.  20
    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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  11.  22
    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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  12.  29
    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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  13.  22
    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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  14.  3
    Similarity structure and diachronic emergence.Samuel C. Fletcher - forthcoming - Synthese:1-28.
    I provide a formally precise account of diachronic emergence of properties as described within scientific theories, extending a recent account of synchronic emergence using similarity structure on the theories’ models. This similarity structure approach to emergent properties unifies the synchronic and diachronic types by revealing that they only differ in how they delineate the domains of application of theories. This allows it to apply also to cases where the synchronic/diachronic distinction is unclear, such as spacetime emergence from theories of quantum (...)
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  15.  13
    Which Worldlines Represent Possible Particle Histories?Samuel C. Fletcher - 2020 - Foundations of Physics 50 (6):582-599.
    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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  16.  8
    An Invitation to Approximate Symmetry, with Three Applications to Intertheoretic Relations.Samuel C. Fletcher - forthcoming - Synthese:1-21.
    Merely approximate symmetry is mundane enough in physics that one rarely finds any explication of it. Among philosophers it has also received scant attention compared to exact symmetries. Herein I invite further consideration of this concept that is so essential to the practice of physics and interpretation of physical theory. After motivating why it deserves such scrutiny, I propose a minimal definition of approximate symmetry—that is, one that presupposes as little structure on a physical theory to which it is applied (...)
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  17.  24
    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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  18. 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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  19.  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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