28 found
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  1. Moderate Structural Realism About Space-Time.Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam - 2008 - Synthese 160 (1):27 - 46.
    This paper sets out a moderate version of metaphysical structural realism that stands in contrast to both the epistemic structural realism of Worrall and the—radical—ontic structural realism of French and Ladyman. According to moderate structural realism, objects and relations (structure) are on the same ontological footing, with the objects being characterized only by the relations in which they stand. We show how this position fares well as regards philosophical arguments, avoiding the objections against the other two versions of structural realism. (...)
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  2.  64
    Spacetime is as Spacetime Does.Vincent Lam & Christian Wüthrich - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 64:39-51.
    Theories of quantum gravity generically presuppose or predict that the reality underlying relativistic spacetimes they are describing is significantly non-spatiotemporal. On pain of empirical incoherence, approaches to quantum gravity must establish how relativistic spacetime emerges from their non-spatiotemporal structures. We argue that in order to secure this emergence, it is sufficient to establish that only those features of relativistic spacetimes functionally relevant in producing empirical evidence must be recovered. In order to complete this task, an account must be given of (...)
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  3. The Physics and Metaphysics of Primitive Stuff.Michael Esfeld, Dustin Lazarovici, Vincent Lam & Mario Hubert - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):133-61.
    The article sets out a primitive ontology of the natural world in terms of primitive stuff—that is, stuff that has as such no physical properties at all—but that is not a bare substratum either, being individuated by metrical relations. We focus on quantum physics and employ identity-based Bohmian mechanics to illustrate this view, but point out that it applies all over physics. Properties then enter into the picture exclusively through the role that they play for the dynamics of the primitive (...)
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  4. Ontic Structural Realism as a Metaphysics of Objects.Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam - 2011 - In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 143-159.
    The paper spells out five different accounts of the relationship between objects and relations three of which are versions of ontic structural realism. We argue that the distinction between objects and properties, including relations, is merely a conceptual one by contrast to an ontological one: properties, including relations, are modes, that is the concrete, particular ways in which objects exist. We then set out moderate OSR as the view according to which irreducible relations are central ways in which the fundamental (...)
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  5. No Categorial Support for Radical Ontic Structural Realism.Vincent Lam & Christian Wüthrich - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3):605-634.
    Radical ontic structural realism (ROSR) asserts an ontological commitment to ‘free-standing’ physical structures understood solely in terms of fundamental relations, without any recourse to relata that stand in these relations. Bain ([2013], pp.1621–35) has recently defended ROSR against the common charge of incoherence by arguing that a reformulation of fundamental physical theories in category-theoretic terms (rather than the usual set-theoretic ones) offers a coherent and precise articulation of the commitments accepted by ROSR. In this essay, we argue that category theory (...)
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  6. A Dilemma for the Emergence of Spacetime in Canonical Quantum Gravity.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):286-293.
    The procedures of canonical quantization of the gravitational field apparently lead to entities for which any interpretation in terms of spatio-temporal localization or spatio-temporal extension seems difficult. This fact is the main ground for the suggestion that can often be found in the physics literature on canonical quantum gravity according to which spacetime may not be fundamental in some sense. This paper aims to investigate this radical suggestion from an ontologically serious point of view in the cases of two standard (...)
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  7. The Structural Metaphysics of Quantum Theory and General Relativity.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - 2012 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (2):243-258.
    The paper compares ontic structural realism in quantum physics with ontic structural realism about space–time. We contend that both quantum theory and general relativity theory support a common, contentful metaphysics of ontic structural realism. After recalling the main claim of ontic structural realism and its physical support, we point out that both in the domain of quantum theory and in the domain of general relativity theory, there are objects whose essential ways of being are certain relations so that these objects (...)
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  8.  26
    A Dilemma For The Emergence Of Spacetime In Canonical Quantum Gravity.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):286-293.
    The procedures of canonical quantization of the gravitational field apparently lead to entities for which any interpretation in terms of spatio-temporal localization or spatio-temporal extension seems difficult. This fact is the main ground for the suggestion that can often be found in the physics literature on canonical quantum gravity according to which spacetime may not be fundamental in some sense. This paper aims to investigate this radical suggestion from an ontologically serious point of view in the cases of two standard (...)
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  9.  16
    Spacetime functionalism from a realist perspective.Vincent Lam & Christian Wüthrich - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    In prior work, we have argued that spacetime functionalism provides tools for clarifying the conceptual difficulties specifically linked to the emergence of spacetime in certain approaches to quantum gravity. We argue in this article that spacetime functionalism in quantum gravity is radically different from other functionalist approaches that have been suggested in quantum mechanics and general relativity: in contrast to these latter cases, it does not compete with purely interpretative alternatives, but is rather intertwined with the physical theorizing itself at (...)
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  10.  62
    Gravitational and Nongravitational Energy: The Need for Background Structures.Vincent Lam - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1012-1024.
    The aim of this paper is to discuss some aspects of the nature gravitational energy within the general theory of relativity. Some aspects of the difficulties to ascribe the usual features of localization and conservation to gravitational energy are reviewed and considered in the light of the dual of role of the dynamical gravitational field, which encodes both inertio-gravitational effects and the chronogeometrical structures of spacetime. These considerations will lead us to discuss the fact that the very notion of energy (...)
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  11.  74
    Entities Without Intrinsic Physical Identity.Vincent Lam - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (5):1157-1171.
    This paper critically discusses recent objections that have been raised against the contextual understanding of fundamental physical objects advocated by non-eliminative ontic structural realism. One of these recent objections claims that such a purely relational understanding of objects cannot account for there being a determinate number of them. A more general objection concerns a well-known circularity threat: relations presuppose the objects they relate and so cannot account for them. A similar circularity objection has also been raised within the framework of (...)
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  12.  17
    Particles, Cutoffs and Inequivalent Representations: Fraser and Wallace on Quantum Field Theory.Matthias Egg, Vincent Lam & Andrea Oldofredi - 2017 - Foundations of Physics 47 (3):453-466.
    We critically review the recent debate between Doreen Fraser and David Wallace on the interpretation of quantum field theory, with the aim of identifying where the core of the disagreement lies. We show that, despite appearances, their conflict does not concern the existence of particles or the occurrence of unitarily inequivalent representations. Instead, the dispute ultimately turns on the very definition of what a quantum field theory is. We further illustrate the fundamental differences between the two approaches by comparing them (...)
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  13.  29
    Counterfactuals in the Initial Value Formulation of General Relativity.José Luis Jaramillo & Vincent Lam - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy066.
    How precisely to understand and evaluate counterfactuals can be an intricate issue. The aim of this article is to examine a new set of difficulties for evaluating counterfactuals that arise in the context of the dynamical spacetimes described by the theory of general relativity. The initial value formulation provides us with a methodology to pin down the specific combination of features of the theory at the origin of the difficulties, namely, non-linearity and certain non-local aspects, in particular when combined with (...)
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  14.  81
    The Entanglement Structure of Quantum Field Systems.Vincent Lam - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (1):59 - 72.
    This article discusses the peculiar features of quantum entanglement and quantum non-locality within the algebraic approach to relativistic quantum field theory (RQFT). The debate on the ontology of RQFT is considered in the light of these well-known but little discussed features. In particular, this article examines the ontic structural realist understanding of quantum entanglement and quantum non-locality and its contribution to this debate.
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  15.  70
    Primitive Ontology and Quantum Field Theory.Vincent Lam - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3):387-397.
    Primitive ontology is a recently much discussed approach to the ontology of quantum theory according to which the theory is ultimately about entities in 3-dimensional space and their temporal evolution. This paper critically discusses the primitive ontologies that have been suggested within the Bohmian approach to quantum field theory in the light of the existence of unitarily inequivalent representations. These primitive ontologies rely either on a Fock space representation or a wave functional representation, which are strictly speaking unambiguously available only (...)
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  16.  40
    Structuralism in the Philosophy of Physics.Vincent Lam - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (6):e12421.
    Ontic structuralism or ontic structural realism in the philosophy of physics can be broadly considered as an interpretative strategy providing a set of conceptual and metaphysical tools—or, more ambitiously, an ontological framework—in order to account for central features of current fundamental physics. This article aims to review the main structuralist interpretative moves in the context of our two best fundamental physical theories of matter and spacetime, namely, quantum theory and general relativity. We highlight in particular the structuralist understanding of permutation (...)
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  17. Structures as the Objects of Fundamental Physics.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - unknown
    The paper argues that there are structures rather than objects with an intrinsic identity in the domain of fundamental physics. We line out the standard metaphysics of objects with an intrinsic identity, recall the main objection against that position (section 1) and then retrace the development to epistemic structural realism (section 2) and to ontic structural realism (section 3). We elaborate on the arguments for ontic structural realism from quantum physics (section 4) and from space-time physics (section 5). Finally, we (...)
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  18.  46
    Causation and Space-Time.Vincent Lam - 2005 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 27 (3/4):465 - 478.
    This paper considers the physical accounts of causation in terms of conserved quantities in the light of the theory of general relativity. As it is rather well-known among physicists, there are several difficulties with the notions of conservation and localization of the (gravitational) energy-momentum within general relativity. We first begin to review the so-called conserved quantity theory of causation mainly due to Dowe and Salmon, then we discuss some consequences of these difficulties for this physical account of causation. We argue (...)
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  19. The Singular Nature of Space-Time.Vincent Lam - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):712-723.
    We consider to what extent the fundamental question of spacetime singularities is relevant for the philosophical debate about the nature of spacetime. After reviewing some basic aspects of the spacetime singularities within general relativity, we argue that the well known difficulty to localize them in a meaningful way may challenge the received metaphysical view of spacetime as a set of points possessing some intrinsic properties together with some spatiotemporal relations. Considering the algebraic formulation of general relativity, we argue that the (...)
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  20.  22
    Metaphysics of Causation and Physics of General Relativity.Vincent Lam - 2010 - Humana Mente 4 (13):61-80.
    This paper aims to discuss two realist conceptions about causation in the light of the general theory of relativity. I first consider the conserved quantity of causation, which explicitly relies on the energy conservation principle. Such principle is however problematic within GTR, mainly because of the dynamical nature of the spacetime structure itself. I then turn to the causal theory of properties, according to which properties are such that insofar as they are certain qualities, they are powers to produce certain (...)
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  21.  16
    Geometric Possibility.Vincent Lam - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (2):226-229.
  22.  14
    Understanding Climate Change with Statistical Downscaling and Machine Learning.Julie Jebeile, Vincent Lam & Tim Räz - 2020 - Synthese:1-21.
    Machine learning methods have recently created high expectations in the climate modelling context in view of addressing climate change, but they are often considered as non-physics-based ‘black boxes’ that may not provide any understanding. However, in many ways, understanding seems indispensable to appropriately evaluate climate models and to build confidence in climate projections. Relying on two case studies, we compare how machine learning and standard statistical techniques affect our ability to understand the climate system. For that purpose, we put five (...)
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  23.  18
    Andreas Bartels: Naturgesetze in Einer Kausalen Welt.Vincent Lam - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (1):145-148.
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  24. Andreas Bartels: Naturgesetze in Einer Kausalen Welt: Mentis, Münster 2015, 254 Pp, €29.80 , ISBN: 9783957430250. [REVIEW]Vincent Lam - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (1):145-148.
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  25.  10
    Éditorial - Le Changement En Science.Vincent Lam & Christian Sachse - 2018 - Lato Sensu, Revue de la Société de Philosophie des Sciences 5 (1):1-3.
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  26.  5
    Eric Winsberg. Philosophy and Climate Science.Vincent Lam - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (2):376-379.
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  27.  42
    Review Of: Tian Yu Cao, From Current Algebra to Quantum Chromodynamics: A Case for Structural Realism. [REVIEW]Vincent Lam - 2012 - Philosophy in Review 32 (6):447-449.
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  28.  53
    Tian Yu Cao , From Current Algebra to Quantum Chromodynamics: A Case for Structural Realism . Reviewed By.Vincent Lam - 2012 - Philosophy in Review 32 (6):447-449.