I examine G.B. Bagci’s arguments for the Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics as ideally suited for Whitehead’s philosophy. Much of Bagci’s claims are in response to Michael Epperson, who argues in the same vein in favor of decoherence accounts. Pace Epperson, I do not think that decoherence is the final arbiter here, and instead I contrast GRW with several other accounts addressing foundational problems of quantum theory, which also account for relativistic covariance, while GRW does not. I argue (...) that such latter research programs align themselves in a more convincing manner with Whitehead’s scheme, in epistemic as well as metaphysical senses, than GRW. (shrink)
I examine G.B. Bagci’s arguments for the Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber (GRW) interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics as ideally suited for Whitehead’s philosophy. Much of Bagci’s claims are in response to Michael Epperson, who argues in the same vein in favor of decoherence accounts (Omnès; Zureck). Pace Epperson, I do not think that decoherence is the final arbiter here, and instead I contrast GRW with several other accounts addressing foundational problems of quantum theory (Finkelstein; Green; Peres and Terno; etc.), which also account (...) for relativistic covariance, while GRW does not. I argue that such latter research programs align themselves in a more convincing manner with Whitehead’s scheme, in epistemic as well as metaphysical senses, than GRW. (shrink)
I argue that the distinctions Robert Batterman (2004) presents between ‘epistemically fundamental’ versus ‘ontologically fundamental’ theoretical approaches can be subsumed by methodologically fundamental procedures. I characterize precisely what is meant by a methodologically fundamental procedure, which involves, among other things, the use of multilinear graded algebras in a theory’s formalism. For example, one such class of algebras I discuss are the Clifford (or Geometric) algebras. Aside from their being touted by many as a “unified mathematical language for physics,” (Hestenes (1984, (...) 1986) Lasenby, et. al. (2000)) Finkelstein (2001, 2004) and others have demonstrated that the techniques of multilinear algebraic ‘expansion and contraction’ exhibit a robust regularizablilty. That is to say, such regularization has been demonstrated to remove singularities, which would otherwise appear in standard field-theoretic, mathematical characterizations of a physical theory. I claim that the existence of such methodologically fundamental procedures calls into question one of Batterman’s central points, that “our explanatory physical practice demands that we appeal essentially to (infinite) idealizations” (2003, 7) exhibited, for example, by singularities in the case of modeling critical phenomena, like fluid droplet formation. By way of counterexample, in the field of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), I discuss the work of Mann & Rockwood (2003) and Gerik Scheuermann, (2002). In the concluding section, I sketch a methodologically fundamental procedure potentially applicable to more general classes of critical phenomena appearing in fluid dynamics. (shrink)
J. Ladyman, Ladyman and Ross refine J. Worral's structural realism, by developing an ontic structural realism which they argue is a consistently naturalistic means of characterizing the ontology of fundamental physics. I argue that elements of analytic metaphysics strengthen and refine their project of characterizing fundamental physics via OSR and by extension, their presentation of information-theoretic structural realism. I refine this point by situating M. Lange’s discussion of nomological modality qua natural necessity within Ladyman and Ross’s discussion of ITSR. The (...) logical hierarchy evinced in Lange’s ‘nomic stability’ further extends and refines Ladyman and Ross’s claims through the addition of nuanced modal distinctions in a systematic framework. (shrink)
Though some influentially critical objections have been raised during the ‘classical’ pre-computational simulation philosophy of science tradition, suggesting a more nuanced methodological category for experiments, it safe to say such critical objections have greatly proliferated in philosophical studies dedicated to the role played by computational simulations in science. For instance, Eric Winsberg suggests that computer simulations are methodologically unique in the development of a theory’s models suggesting new epistemic notions of application. This is also echoed in Jeffrey Ramsey’s notions of (...) “transformation reduction,”—i.e., a notion of reduction of a more highly constructive variety. Computer simulations create a broadly continuous arena spanned by normative and descriptive aspects of theory-articulation, as entailed by the notion of transformation reductions occupying a continuous region demarcated by Ernest Nagel’s logical-explanatory “domain-combining reduction” on the one hand, and Thomas Nickels’ heuristic “domain-preserving reduction,” on the other. I extend Winsberg’s and Ramsey’s points here, by arguing that in the field of computational fluid dynamics as well as in other branches of applied physics, the computer plays a constitutively experimental role—supplanting in many cases the more traditional experimental methods such as flow-visualization, etc. In this case, however CFD algorithms act as substitutes, not supplements when it comes to experimental practices. I bring up the constructive example involving the Clifford-Algebraic algorithms for modeling singular phenomena in CFD by Gerik Scheuermann and Steven Mann & Alyn Rockwood who demonstrate that their algorithms offer greater descriptive and explanatory scope than the standard Navier-Stokes approaches. The mathematical distinction between Navier-Stokes-based and Clifford-Algebraic based CFD has essentially to do with the regularization features exhibited to a far greater extent by the latter, than the former. Hence, CACFD indicate that the utilization of computational techniques can be based on principled reasons, as opposed to merely practical. CACFD hence exhibit a new generative role in the field of fluid mechanics, by offering categories of experimental evidence that are optimally descriptive and explanatory—i.e., pace Batterman can be both ontologically and epistemically fundamental. (shrink)
Alfred North Whitehead introduces in Process and Reality the notion that the ?philosophy of organism is a cell-theory of actuality.? I argue here that the most promising venue for a concordance with process ontology vis-à-vis extant physical theory includes the notions of dynamical and ontological emergence in the physical sciences, as described in Silberstein and McGeever (1999) as well as in Kronz and Tiehen (2002). Here I draw on my previous claims (1997, 2005, 2006) to show in more general terms (...) how process ontology provides a more unified characterization of ontological and dynamical emergence. (shrink)
I summarize Silberstein, et. al’s (2006) discussion of the derivation of the Heisenberg commutators, whose work is based on Kaiser (1981, 1990) and Bohr, et. al. (1995, 2004a,b). I argue that Bohr and Kaiser’s treatment is not geometric enough, as it still relies on some unexplained residual notions concerning the unitary representation of transformations in a Hilbert space. This calls for a more consistent characterization of the role of i than standard QM can offer. I summarize David Hestenes’ (1985,1986) major (...) claims concerning the essential role Clifford algebras play in such a fundamental characterization of i, and I present a Clifford- algebraic derivation of the Heisenberg commutation relations (taken from Finkelstein, et. al. (2001)). I argue that their derivation exhibits a more fundamentally geometrical approach, which unifies geometric and ontological content. I also point out how some of Finkelstein’s ontological notions of “chronon dynamics” can give a plausible explanatory account of RBW’s “geometric relations.”. (shrink)
The notion of emergence has received much renewed attention recently. Most of the authors I review (§ II), including most notably Robert Batterman (2002, 2003, 2004) share the common aim of providing accounts for emergence which offer fresh insights from highly articulated and nuanced views reflecting recent developments in applied physics. Moreover, the authors present such accounts to reveal what they consider as misrepresentative and oversimplified abstractions often depicted in standard philosophical accounts. With primary focus on Batterman, however, I show (...) (in § III), that despite (or perhaps because of) such novel and compelling insights; underlying thematic tensions and ambiguities persist nevertheless, due to subtle reifications made of particular (albeit central) mathematical methods employed in asymptotic analysis. I offer a potential candidate (in § IV), for regularization advanced by the theoretical physicist David Finkelstein (1996, 2002, 2004). The richly characterized multilinear algebraic theories employed by Finkelstein would, for instance, serve the two-fold purpose of clearing up much of the inevitably “epistemological emergence” accompanying divergent limiting cases treated in the standard approaches, while at the same time characterize in relatively greater detail the “ontological emergence” of particular quantum phenomena under study. Among other things, this suggests that the some of the structures suggested by Batterman as essentially involving the superseded theory are better understood as regular algebraic contraction (Finkelstein). Because of the regularization latent in such powerful multilinear algebraic methods, among other things this calls into question Batterman’s claims that explanation and reduction should be kept separate, in instances involving singular limits. (§ V). (shrink)
This essay provides a timeline charting contact between Michael Polanyi and William H. Poteat. We trace the contours of the intimate, multifaceted, and mutually influential friendship of Polanyi and Poteat which developed over more than twenty years.
Through an analysis and explication of William James’s writings, such as “The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life” and The Varieties of Religious Experience, Michael Slater successfully defends the argument “that on James’s view morality cannot be finally separated from religion, because there are moral goods that only religious faith—and in some cases, only the objects of religious faith—can plausibly bring about” (7). Slater advances this argument by making two significant claims concerning James’s work. First, James’s ethics require (...) “the possession of a morally strenuous attitude” (7). By emphasizing our attitudes and dispositions, rather than the calculations or consequences of our moral actions, Slater .. (shrink)
Participants have known Poteat as teacher or colleague or author over various periods of time and assess him according to these various relationships. Polanyi is given less attention largely because he has been less difficult to understand. Poteat’s approach is the more radical because he attempts to take the implications of Polanyi’s thinking further. Central to comprehending the nature of their differences are an understanding of their different perceptions of transcendence and of the contrasting groundings they provide for reality.