A modest proposal concerning laws, counterfactuals, and explanations - - Why be Humean? -- Suggestions from physics for deep metaphysics -- On the passing of time -- Causation, counterfactuals, and the third factor -- The whole ball of wax -- Epilogue : a remark on the method of metaphysics.
The basic idea of Maudlin's superb book is methodological: ‘metaphysics, insofar as it is concerned with the natural world, can do no better than to reflect on physics. Physical theories provide us with the best handle we have on what there is, and the philosopher's proper task is the interpretation and elucidation of those theories. In particular, when choosing the fundamental posits of one's ontology, one must look to scientific practice rather than to philosophical prejudice’.The apparently diverse topics covered by (...) the book's six chapters are united in bearing out this basic idea. They do so with considerable care and sophistication. The chapters also champion a campaign against David Lewis's thesis of Humean Supervenience. Lewis's thesis says that everything actual supervenes on the distribution of intrinsic qualities across points in space-time.Chapter 1 claims that laws of …. (shrink)
This concise book introduces nonphysicists to the core philosophical issues surrounding the nature and structure of space and time, and is also an ideal resource for physicists interested in the conceptual foundations of space-time theory. Tim Maudlin's broad historical overview examines Aristotelian and Newtonian accounts of space and time, and traces how Galileo's conceptions of relativity and space-time led to Einstein's special and general theories of relativity. Maudlin explains special relativity using a geometrical approach, emphasizing intrinsic space-time structure rather than (...) coordinate systems or reference frames. He gives readers enough detail about special relativity to solve concrete physical problems while presenting general relativity in a more qualitative way, with an informative discussion of the geometrization of gravity, the bending of light, and black holes. Additional topics include the Twins Paradox, the physical aspects of the Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction, the constancy of the speed of light, time travel, the direction of time, and more.Introduces nonphysicists to the philosophical foundations of space-time theory Provides a broad historical overview, from Aristotle to Einstein Explains special relativity geometrically, emphasizing the intrinsic structure of space-time Covers the Twins Paradox, Galilean relativity, time travel, and more Requires only basic algebra and no formal knowledge of physics. (shrink)
The meaning and truth conditions for claims about physical modality and causation have been considered problematic since Hume’s empiricist critique. But the underlying semantic commitments that follow from Hume’s empiricism about ideas have long been abandoned by the philosophical community. Once the consequences of that abandonment are properly appreciated, the problems of physical modality and causal locutions fall away, and can be painlessly solved.
In this ingenious and powerfully argued book Tim Maudlin sets out a novel account of logic and semantics which allows him to deal with certain notorious paradoxes which have bedevilled philosophical theories of truth. All philosophers interested in logic and language will find this a stimulating read.
This paper sketches a taxonomy of forms of substantivalism and relationism concerning space and time, and of the traditional arguments for these positions. Several natural sorts of relationism are able to account for Newton's bucket experiment. Conversely, appropriately constructed substantivalism can survive Leibniz's critique, a fact which has been obscured by the conflation of two of Leibniz's arguments. The form of relationism appropriate to the Special Theory of Relativity is also able to evade the problems raised by Field. I survey (...) the effect of the General Theory of Relativity and of plenism on these considerations. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to distinguish and analyze several difficulties confronting attempts to reconcile the fundamental quantum mechanical dynamics with Born''s rule. It is shown that many of the proposed accounts of measurement fail at least one of the problems. In particular, only collapse theories and hidden variables theories have a chance of succeeding, and, of the latter, the modal interpretations fail. Any real solution demands new physics.
It has long been a commonplace that there is a problem understanding the role of time when one tries to quantize the General Theory of Relativity (GTR). In his "Thoroughly Modern McTaggart" (Philosophers' Imprint Vol 2, No. 3), John Earman presents several arguments to the conclusion that there is a problem understanding change and the passage of time in the unadorned GTR, quite apart from quantization. His Young McTaggart argues that according to the GTR, no physical magnitude ever changes. A (...) close consideration of Young McTaggart's arguments show that they turn on either a bad choice of formalism or an unwarranted interpretation of the implications of the formalism. This suggests that the problems that arise in quantization may be founded in similar shortcomings. (shrink)
The standard mathematical account of the sub-metrical geometry of a space employs topology, whose foundational concept is the open set. This proves to be an unhappy choice for discrete spaces, and offers no insight into the physical origin of geometrical structure. I outline an alternative, the Theory of Linear Structures, whose foundational concept is the line. Application to Relativistic space-time reveals that the whole geometry of space-time derives from temporal structure. In this sense, instead of spatializing time, Relativity temporalizes space.
Time travel has been a staple of science fiction. With the advent of general relativity it has been entertained by serious physicists. But, especially in the philosophy literature, there have been arguments that time travel is inherently paradoxical. The most famous paradox is the grandfather paradox: you travel back in time and kill your grandfather, thereby preventing your own existence. To avoid inconsistency some circumstance will have to occur which makes you fail in this attempt to kill your grandfather. Doesn't (...) this require some implausible constraint on otherwise unrelated circumstances? We examine such worries in the context of modern physics. (shrink)
I argue that Norton & Earman's hole argument, despite its historical association with General Relativity, turns upon very general features of any linguistic system that can represent substances by names. After exploring various means by which mathematical objects can be interpreted as representing physical possibilities, I suggest that a form of essentialism can solve the hole dilemma without abandoning either determinism or substantivalism. Finally, I identify the basic tenets of such an essentialism in Newton's writings and consider how they can (...) be updated to apply to the case provided by General Relativity. (shrink)
Tim Maudlin sets out a completely new method for describing the geometrical structure of spaces, and thus a better mathematical tool for describing and understanding space-time. He presents a historical review of the development of geometry and topology, and then his original Theory of Linear Structures.
Any empirical physical theory must have implications for observable events at the scale of everyday life, even though that scale plays no special role in the basic ontology of the theory itself. The fundamental physical scales are microscopic for the “local beables” of the theory and universal scale for the non-local beables. This situation creates strong demands for any precise quantum theory. This paper examines those constraints, and illustrates some ways in which they can be met.
Abraham Stone recently has published an argument purporting to show that David Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics fails to solve the measurement problem. Stone's analysis is not correct, as he has failed to take account of the conditions under which the theorems he cites are proven. An explicit presentation of a Bohmian measurement illustrates the flaw in his reasoning.
Consider the sentence 'This sentence is not true'. It seems that the sentence can be neither true nor not true, on pain of contradiction. Certain notorious paradoxes like this have bedevilled philosophical theories of truth. Tim Maudlin presents an original account of logic and semantics which deals with these paradoxes, and allows him to set out a new theory of truth-values and the norms governing claims about truth. All philosophers interested in logic and language will find Truth and Paradox a (...) stimulating read. (shrink)
There are various senses in which a physical theory may be said to "unify" different forces, with the unification being deeper of more shallow in different cases. This paper discusses some of these distinctions.
Richard Healey argues that the Aharonov- Bohm effect demands the recognition of either nonlocal or nonseparable physics in much the way that violations of Bell's inequality do. A careful examination of the effect and the arguments, though, shows that Healey's interpretation of the Aharonov- Bohm effect depends critically on his interpretation of gauge theories, and that the analogy with violations of Bell's inequalities fails.
Truth and Paradox largely consists of three connected technical projects together with a more general account of the nature of truth. The first project is the most familiar: providing an account of how logically complex sentences get assigned truth values on the basis of the truth values assigned to the logically atomic sentences. The second is construction of valid, syntactically specifiable inference rules for a language that includes the familiar logical connectives and the truth predicate. The third is an account (...) of the normative rules governing the assertion of sentences. Let me sketch these in order. (shrink)
We criticize speculations to the effect that quantum mechanics is fundamentally about information. We do this by pointing out how unfounded such speculations in fact are. Our analysis focuses on the dubious claims of this kind recently made by Anton Zeilinger.
This book on the philosophy of science argues for an empiricism, opposed to the tradition of David Hume, in which singular rather than general causal claims are primary; causal laws express facts about singular causes whereas the general causal claims of science are ascriptions of capacities or causal powers, capacities to make things happen. Taking science as measurement, Cartwright argues that capacities are necessary for science and that these can be measured, provided suitable conditions are met. There are case studies (...) from both econometrics and quantum mechanics. (shrink)
This paper demonstrates that John Wheeler and Richard Feynman's strategy for avoiding causal paradoxes threatened by backward causation and time-travel can be defeated by designing self-interacting mechanisms with a non-simple topological structure. Time-travel therefore requires constraints on the allowable data on space-like hypersurfaces. The nature and significance of these constraints is discussed.