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.
A sophisticated and original introduction to the philosophy of quantum mechanics from one of the world’s leading philosophers of physics In this book, Tim Maudlin, one of the world’s leading philosophers of physics, offers a sophisticated, original introduction to the philosophy of quantum mechanics. The briefest, clearest, and most refined account of his influential approach to the subject, the book will be invaluable to all students of philosophy and physics. Quantum mechanics holds a unique place in the history of physics. (...) It has produced the most accurate predictions of any scientific theory, but, more astonishing, there has never been any agreement about what the theory implies about physical reality. Maudlin argues that the very term “quantum theory” is a misnomer. A proper physical theory should clearly describe what is there and what it does—yet standard textbooks present quantum mechanics as a predictive recipe in search of a physical theory. In contrast, Maudlin explores three proper theories that recover the quantum predictions: the indeterministic wavefunction collapse theory of Ghirardi, Rimini, and Weber; the deterministic particle theory of deBroglie and Bohm; and the conceptually challenging Many Worlds theory of Everett. Each offers a radically different proposal for the nature of physical reality, but Maudlin shows that none of them are what they are generally taken to be. (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)
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.
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 essay is the first act of a two-act play. My ultimate aim is to defend a simple proposition: time passes. To be more precise, I want to defend the claim that the passage of time is an intrinsic asymmetry in the structure of space-time itself, an asymmetry that has no spatial counterpart and is metaphysically independent of the material contents of space-time. It is independent, for example, of the entropy gradient of the universe. This view is part of common-sense, (...) but has been widely attacked by philosophers. The passage of time, we are told, is a myth, an illusion, even an incoherent notion. Because the notion that time passes is common sense, it perhaps requires little positive defence; if there are no weighty objections to the view, it ought to be accepted. So the first, and more important, act of the play is defusing the arguments which have been used to cast doubt on the passage of time. I have positive arguments to give, but not having space for them here, I will confine myself to an examination of the common philosophical arguments that have been used to cast doubt on the passage of time. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
ABSTRACT In “Temporal Passage and the ‘No Alternate Possibilities Argument’”, Jonathan Tallant takes up one objection based on the observation that if time passes at the rate of one second per second there is no other possible rate at which it could pass. The argument rests on the premise that if time passes at some rate then it could have passed at some other rate. Since no alternative rate seems to be coherent, one concludes that time cannot pass at all. (...) The obvious weak point of the NAP is the premise itself. (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 essay is born of a misunderstanding. When Barry Loewer mentioned to me that he might be interested in an essay on David Bohm’s version or interpretation of quantum theory, he happened also to mention the work of Wilfrid Sellars, which coincidentally was on his mind. I mistakenly understood that what was wanted was an essay connecting Bohm and Sellars. This directed my thoughts down pathways they would not otherwise have taken, and sent me back to some works of Sellars (...) which had lain neglected on my shelves. What follows is the result of this fortuitous juxtaposition of ideas. (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.