Quantum field theory (QFT) combines quantum mechanics with Einstein's special theory of relativity and underlies elementary particle physics. This book presents a philosophical analysis of QFT. It is the first treatise in which the philosophies of space-time, quantum phenomena, and particle interactions are encompassed in a unified framework. Describing the physics in nontechnical terms, and schematically illustrating complex ideas, the book also serves as an introduction to fundamental physical theories. The philosophical interpretation both upholds the reality of the quantum world (...) and acknowledges the irreducible cognitive elements in its representation. The interpretation is based on an analysis of our ways of thinking as the are embedded in the logical structure of QFT. The author argues that philosophical categories are significant only if they play active and essential roles in our knowledge and hence constitute part of the theories in actual use. Thus she regards physical theories as primary, extracts their categorical structure, and uses it to rethink key philosophical questions. Among the questions this book tries to answer are: What are the quantum properties independent of measurements? How do we refer to individual things in a continuous field? How do theories relate to objects? What are the general conditions of the world and of our ways of thinking that make possible our knowledge of the microscopic realm, which is so intangible and counterintuitive? As a penetrating analysis of vital themes in contemporary science, the book will engage the interest of students and professionals in physics and philosophy alike. (shrink)
The author looks at the continuing debate about the meaning of quantum theory. The historical development of the theory is traced from the turn of the century through to the 1930's, and the famous debate between Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein.
This superb collection by the eminent physicist and critic John Ziman, opens with an album of portraits of scientists--Albert Einstein, Freeman Dyson, Lev Landau, Mark Azbel, Andrei Sakharov. Ziman takes readers into the world of the contemporary scientist, showing how discoveries are made and how claims are tested. He then travels into the minds of scientists as they are drawn into competing directions. Here Ziman exposes the path of discovery, which is strewn with complex human needs, governmental restrictions, the desire (...) for profits, and the exercise of technical virtuosity. (shrink)
This book examines a selection of philosophical issues in the context of specific episodes in the development of physical theories. Advances in science are presented against the historical and philosophical backgrounds in which they occurred. A major aim is to impress upon the reader the essential role that philosophical considerations have played in the actual practice of science. The book begins with some necessary introduction to the history of ancient and early modern science, with major emphasis being given to the (...) two great watersheds of twentieth-century physics: relativity and, especially, quantum mechanics. At times the term 'construction' may seem more appropriate than 'discovery' for the way theories have developed and, especially in the later chapters, the question of the influence of historical, philosophical and even social factors on the very form and content of scientific theories is discussed. (shrink)
Space and time are the most fundamental features of our experience of the world, and yet they are also the most perplexing. Does time really flow, or is that simply an illusion? Did time have a beginning? What does it mean to say that time has a direction? Does space have boundaries, or is it infinite? Is change really possible? Could space and time exist in the absence of any objects or events? What, in the end, are space and time? (...) Do they really exist, or are they simply the constructions of our minds? Robin Le Poidevin provides a clear, witty, and stimulating introduction to these deep questions and many other mind-boggling puzzles and paradoxes. He gives a vivid sense of the difficulties raised by our ordinary ideas about space and time, but he also gives us the basis to think about these problems independently, avoiding large amounts of jargon and technicality. His book is an invitation to think philosophically rather than a sustained argument for particular conclusions, but Le Poidevin does advance and defend a number of controversial views. He argues, for example, that time does not actually flow, that it is possible for space and time to be both finite and yet be without boundaries, and that causation is the key to an understanding of one of the deepest mysteries of time: its direction. Drawing on a variety of vivid examples from science, history, and literature, Travels in Four Dimensions brings to life some of the most profound questions imaginable. (shrink)
During the academic years 1972-1973 and 1973-1974, an intensive sem inar on the foundations of quantum mechanics met at Stanford on a regular basis. The extensive exploration of ideas in the seminar led to the org~ization of a double issue of Synthese concerned with the foundations of quantum mechanics, especially with the role of logic and probability in quantum meChanics. About half of the articles in the volume grew out of this seminar. The remaining articles have been so licited explicitly (...) from individuals who are actively working in the foun dations of quantum mechanics. Seventeen of the twenty-one articles appeared in Volume 29 of Syn these. Four additional articles and a bibliography on -the history and philosophy of quantum mechanics have been added to the present volume. In particular, the articles by Bub, Demopoulos, and Lande, as well as the second article by Zanotti and myself, appear for the first time in the present volume. In preparing the articles for publication I am much indebted to Mrs. Lillian O'Toole, Mrs. Dianne Kanerva, and Mrs. Marguerite Shaw, for their extensive assistance. (shrink)
This book recalls, for nonscientific readers, the history of quantum mechanics, the main points of its interpretation, and Einstein's objections to it, together with the responses engendered by his arguments. Most popular discussions on the strange aspects of quantum mechanics ignore the fundamental fact that Einstein was correct in his insistence that the theory does not directly describe reality. While that fact does not remove the theory's counterintuitive features, it casts them in a different light. Context is provided by following (...) the history of two central aspects of physics: the elucidation of the basic structure of the world made up of particles, and the explanation, as well as the prediction, of how objects move. This history, prior to quantum mechanics, reveals that whereas theories and discoveries concerning the structure of nature became increasingly realistic, the laws of motion, even as they became more powerful, became more and more abstract and remote from intuitive notions of reality. Newton's laws of motion gained their abstract power by sacrificing direct and intuitive contact with real experience. Arriving 250 years after Newton, the break with a direct description of reality embodied in quantum mechanics was nevertheless profound. (shrink)
To those of us who are not mathematicians or physicists, Einstein’s theory of relativity often seems incomprehensible, exotic, and of little real-world use. None of this is true. Daniel F. Styer’s introduction to the topic not only shows us why these beliefs are mistaken but also shines a bright light on the subject so that any curious-minded person with an understanding of algebra and geometry can both grasp and apply the theory.Styer starts off slowly and proceeds carefully, explaining the concepts (...) undergirding relativity in language comprehensible to nonscientists yet precise and accurate enough to satisfy the most demanding professional. He demonstrates how the theory applies to various real-life situations with easy equations and simple, clear diagrams. Styer's classroom-tested method of conveying the core ideas of relativity—the relationship among and between time, space, and motion and the behavior of light—encourages questions and shows the way to finding the answers. Each of the book’s four parts builds on the sections that come before, leading the reader by turn through an overview of foundational ideas such as frames of reference, revelatory examples of time dilation and its attendant principles, an example-based exploration of relativity, and explanations of how and why gravity and spacetime are linked. By demonstrating relativity with practical applications, Styer teaches us to truly understand and appreciate its importance, beauty, and usefulness.Featuring worked and end-of-chapter problems and illustrated, nontechnical explanations of core concepts, while dotted throughout with questions and answers, puzzles, and paradoxes, Relativity for the Questioning Mind is an enjoyable-to-read, complete, concise introduction to one of the most important scientific theories yet discovered. The appendixes provide helpful hints, basic answers to the sample problems, and materials to stimulate further exploration. (shrink)
Newton's bucket, Einstein's elevator, Schrödinger's cat – these are some of the best-known examples of thought experiments in the natural sciences. But what function do these experiments perform? Are they really experiments at all? Can they help us gain a greater understanding of the natural world? How is it possible that we can learn new things just by thinking? In this revised and updated new edition of his classic text _The Laboratory of the Mind_, James Robert Brown continues to defend (...) apriorism in the physical world. This edition features two new chapters, one on “counter thought experiments” and another on the development of inertial motion. With plenty of illustrations and updated coverage of the debate between Platonic rationalism and classic empiricism, this is a lively and engaging contribution to the field of philosophy of science. (shrink)
Eminent Harvard astrophysicist David Layzer offers readers a unified theory of natural order and its origins, from the permanence, stability, and orderliness of sub-atomic particles to the evolution of the human mind. Cosmogenesis provides the first extended account of a controversial theory that connects quantum mechanics with the second law of thermodynamics, and presents novel resolutions of longstanding paradoxes in these theories, such as those of Schroedinger's cat and the arrow of time. Layzer's main concerns in the second half of (...) the book are with the philosophical issues surrounding science. He develops a highly original reconciliation of the conflict between traditional scientific determinism and the intuitive notion of individual freedom. He argues that although the elementary processes underlying biological evolution and human development are governed by physical laws, they are nevertheless genuinely creative and unpredictable. (shrink)
Why does time appear to run in only one direction? We remember the past- but why not the future? We can influence the future- but could we, even theoretically, influence the past? Generations of philosophers and theologians, physicists and mathematicians have puzzles and speculated about these and the many other questions that surround the concept of time. Recent scientific work is said to explain the directionality of time. But time still contains many mysteries- black holes and big bangs, asymmetries and (...) relativities, arrows and loops - that will doubtless continue to occupy us for centuries to come. In this impressive collection of original articles ten internationally known scholars explore and explains the nature of time, apace and now space-time. Founded on the latest developments in thermodynamics, quantum theory and cosmology, their ideas will fascinate anyone interested in Einstein's theory of relativity. (shrink)
Underpinning all the other branches of science, physics affects the way we live our lives, and ultimately how life itself functions. Recent scientific advances have led to dramatic reassessment of our understanding of the world around us, and made a significant impact on our lifestyle. In this book, leading international experts, including Nobel prize winners, explore the frontiers of modern physics, from the particles inside an atom to the stars that make up a galaxy, from nano-engineering and brain research to (...) high-speed data networks. Revealing how physics plays a vital role in what we see around us, this book will fascinate scientists of all disciplines, and anyone wanting to know more about the world of physics today. (shrink)
Much of the history of physics at the beginning of the twentieth century has been written with a sharp focus on a few key figures and a handful of notable events. Einstein’s Generation offers a distinctive new approach to the origins of modern physics by exploring both the material culture that stimulated relativity and the reaction of Einstein’s colleagues to his pioneering work. Richard Staley weaves together the diverse strands of experimental and theoretical physics, commercial instrument making, and the sociology (...) of physics around 1900 to present a complete view of the collective efforts of a group whose work helped set the stage for Einstein’s revolutionary theories and the transition from classical to modern physics that followed. Collecting papers, talks, catalogues, conferences, and correspondence, Staley juxtaposes scientists’ views of relativity at the time to modern understandings of its history. Ultimately, Einstein’s Generation tells the story of a group of individuals whose work engendered some of the most significant advances of the twentieth century—and challenges our celebration of Einstein’s era above all others. (shrink)
Modern physics has revealed the universe as a much stranger place than we could have imagined. The puzzle at the centre of our knowledge of the universe is time. Michael Lockwood takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the nature of things. He investigates philosophical questions about past, present, and future, our experience of time, and the possibility of time travel. We zoom in on the behaviour of molecules and atoms, and pull back to survey the expansion of the (...) universe. We learn about entropy and gravity, black holes and wormholes, about how it all began and where we are all headed. Things will never seem the same again after a voyage through The Labyrinth of Time. (shrink)
Bewildering features of modern physics, such as relativistic space-time structure and the peculiarities of so-called quantum statistics, challenge traditional ways of conceiving of objects in space and time. Interpreting Bodies brings together essays by leading philosophers and scientists to provide a unique overview of the implications of such physical theories for questions about the nature of objects. The collection combines classic articles by Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, Hans Reichenbach, and Erwin Schrodinger with recent contributions, including several papers that have never (...) before been published. -/- The book focuses on the microphysical objects that are at the heart of quantum physics and addresses issues central to both the "foundational" and the philosophical debates about objects. Contributors explore three subjects in particular: how to identify a physical object as an individual, the notion of invariance with respect to determining what objects are or could be, and how to relate objective and measurable properties to a physical entity. The papers cover traditional philosophical topics, common-sense questions, and technical matters in a consistently clear and rigorous fashion, illuminating some of the most perplexing problems in modern physics and the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Carl G. Hempel exerted greater influence upon philosophers of science than any other figure during the 20th century. In this far-reaching collection, distinguished philosophers contribute valuable studies that illuminate and clarify the central problems to which Hempel was devoted. The essays enhance our understanding of the development of logical empiricism as the major intellectual influence for scientifically-oriented philosophers and philosophically-minded scientists of the 20th century.
David Bohm is one of the foremost scientific thinkers of today and one of the most distinguished scientists of his generation. His challenge to the conventional understanding of quantum theory has led scientists to reexamine what it is they are going and his ideas have been an inspiration across a wide range of disciplines. _Quantum Implications_ is a collection of original contributions by many of the world' s leading scholars and is dedicated to David Bohm, his work and the issues (...) raised by his ideas. The contributors range across physics, philosophy, biology, art, psychology, and include some of the most distinguished scientists of the day. There is an excellent introduction by the editors, putting Bohm's work in context and setting right some of the misconceptions that have persisted about the work of David Bohm. (shrink)
The periodic table of the elements is one of the most powerful icons in science: a single document that captures the essence of chemistry in an elegant pattern. Indeed, nothing quite like it exists in biology or physics, or any other branch of science, for that matter. One sees periodic tables everywhere: in industrial labs, workshops, academic labs, and of course, lecture halls. -/- It is sometimes said that chemistry has no deep ideas, unlike physics, which can boast quantum mechanics (...) and relativity, and biology, which has produced the theory of evolution. This view is mistaken, however, since there are in fact two big ideas in chemistry. They are chemical periodicity and chemical bonding, and they are deeply interconnected. The observation that certain elements prefer to combine with speciﬁc kinds of elements prompted early chemists to classify the elements in tables of chemical afﬁnity. Later these tables would lead, somewhat indirectly, to the discovery of the periodic system, perhaps the biggest idea in the whole of chemistry. Indeed, periodic tables arose partly through the attempts by Dimitri Mendeleev and numerous others to make sense of the way in which particular elements enter into chemical bonding. (shrink)
A lighthearted approach to quantum physics demystifies the aspects that seem to defy common sense, demonstrating how quantum mechanics reliably and accurately predicts the behavior of particles and explaining why subatomic effects are never seen.
Cosmology has undergone a revolution in recent years. The exciting interplay between astronomy and fundamental physics has led to dramatic revelations, including the existence of the dark matter and the dark energy that appear to dominate our cosmos. But these discoveries only reveal themselves through small effects in noisy experimental data. Dealing with such observations requires the careful application of probability and statistics. But it is not only in the arcane world of fundamental physics that probability theory plays such an (...) important role. It has an impact in many aspects of our everyday life, from the law courts to the lottery. Why then do so few people understand probability? And why do so few people understand why it is so important for science? Why do so many people think that science is about absolute certainty when, at its core, it is actually dominated by uncertainty? This book attempts to explain the basics of probability theory, and illustrate their application across the entire spectrum of science. (shrink)
This book gives an excellent introduction to the theory of special relativity. Professor Resnick presents a fundamental and unified development of the subject with unusually clear discussions of the aspects that usually trouble beginners. He includes, for example, a section on the common sense of relativity. His presentation is lively and interspersed with historical, philosophical and special topics (such as the twin paradox) that will arouse and hold the reader's interest. You'll find many unique features that help you grasp the (...) material, such as worked-out examples,summary tables,thought questions and a wealth of excellent problems. The emphasis throughout the book is physical. The experimental background, experimental confirmation of predictions, and the physical interpretation of principles are stressed. The book treats relativistic kinematics, relativistic dynamics, and relativity and electromagnetism and contains special appendices on the geometric representation of space-time and on general relativity. Its organization permits an instructor to vary the length and depth of his treatment and to use the book either with or following classical physics. These features make it an ideal companion for introductory courses. (shrink)
This is one of the most important books on quantum mechanics to have appeared in recent years. It offers a dramatically new interpretation that resolves puzzles and paradoxes associated with the measurement problem and the behavior of coupled systems. A crucial feature of this interpretation is that a quantum mechanical measurement can be certain to have a particular outcome even when the observed system fails to have the property corresponding to that outcome just prior to the measurement interaction.
Complexity and Postmodernism explores the notion of complexity in the light of contemporary perspectives from philosophy and science. The book integrates insights from complexity and computational theory with the philosophical position of thinkers including Derrida and Lyotard. Paul Cilliers takes a critical stance towards the use of the analytical method as a tool to cope with complexity, and he rejects Searle's superficial contribution to the debate.
In _Complexity and Postmodernism_, Paul Cilliers explores the idea of complexity in the light of contemporary perspectives from philosophy and science. Cilliers offers us a unique approach to understanding complexity and computational theory by integrating postmodern theory into his discussion. _Complexity and Postmodernism_ is an exciting and an original book that should be read by anyone interested in gaining a fresh understanding of complexity, postmodernism and connectionism.
Nothingness addresses one of the most puzzling problems of physics and philosophy: Does empty space have an existence independent of the matter within it? Is "empty space" really empty, or is it an ocean seething with the creation and destruction of virtual matter? With crystal-clear prose and more than 100 cleverly rendered illustrations, physicist Henning Genz takes the reader from the metaphysical speculations of the ancient Greek philosophers, through the theories of Newton and the early experiments of his contemporaries, right (...) up to the current theories of quantum physics and cosmology to give us the story of one of the most fundamental and puzzling areas of modern physics and philosophy. (shrink)
This book provides an introduction to applied statistical mechanics by considering physically realistic models. It provides a simple and accessible introduction to theories of thermal fluctuations and diffusion, and goes on to apply them in a variety of physical contexts. The first part of the book is devoted to processes in thermal equilibrium, and considers linear systems. Ideas central to the subject, such as the fluctuation dissipation theorem, Fokker-Planck equations and the Kramers-Kroenig relations are introduced during the course of the (...) exposition. The scope is then expanded to include non-equilibrium systems and also illustrates simple nonlinear systems. This book will be of interest to final year undergraduate and graduate students studying statistical mechanics, plasma physics, basic electronics, solid state physics and anyone who wants an accessible introduction to the subject. (shrink)
This book describes the state of astrobiology in Europe today and its relation to the European society at large. With contributions from authors in more than 20 countries and over 30 scientific institutions worldwide, the document illustrates the societal implications of astrobiology and the positive contribution that astrobiology can make to European society. The book has two main objectives: 1. It recommends the establishment of a European Astrobiology Institute (EAI) as an answer to a series of challenges relating to astrobiology (...) but also European research, education, and society at large. 2. It also acknowledges the societal implications of astrobiology, and thus the role of the social sciences and humanities in optimizing the positive contribution that astrobiology can make to the lives of the people of Europe and the challenges they face. (shrink)
Abraham Pais's Subtle Is the Lord was a publishing phenomenon: a mathematically sophisticated exposition of the science and the life of Albert Einstein that reached a huge audience and won an American Book Award. Reviewers hailed the book as "a monument to sound scholarship and graceful style", "an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man", and "a fine book". In this groundbreaking new volume, Pais undertakes a history of the physics of matter and of physical forces since the discovery of x-rays. (...) The book attempts to relate not only what has happened over the last hundred years but why it happened the way it did, what it was like for those scientists involved, and how what at the time may have seemed a series of bizarre or unrelated events, now with hindsight emerges as a logical sequence of events. Pais, a noted physicist, was personally involved in many of the developments he describes, and thus Inward Bound, like his earlier book, is filled with unique insights into the world of big and small physics. Between 1895 and 1983, the period he covers, the smallest distances explored have shrunk a hundred millionfold, Pais notes. Along this incompletely traveled "road inward," scientists have established markers that later generations will rank among the principal monuments of the twentieth century. In alternating technical and nontechnical sections, this magisterial survey richly conveys what has been discovered about the constituents of matter, the laws to which they are subject, and the forces that act on them. But the advances have certainly not come smoothly. The book shows that these have been times of progress and stagnation, of order and chaos, of clarity and confusion, of belief and incredulity, of the conventional and the bizarre; also of revolutionaries and conservatives, of science by individuals and by consortia, of little gadgets and big machines, and of modest funds and big money. About the Author: Abraham Pais is Detlev W. Bronk Professor of Physics at the Rockefeller University. The author of the prizewinning biography of Einstein now undertakes a history of modern physics. (shrink)
Chaotic dynamics has been hailed as the third great scientific revolution in physics this century, comparable to relativity and quantum mechanics. In this book, Peter Smith takes a cool, critical look at such claims. He cuts through the hype and rhetoric by explaining some of the basic mathematical ideas in a clear and accessible way, and by carefully discussing the methodological issues which arise. In particular, he explores the new kinds of explanation of empirical phenomena which modern dynamics can deliver. (...) Explaining Chaos will be compulsory reading for philosophers of science and for anyone who has wondered about the conceptual foundations of chaos theory. (shrink)
Richard Swinburne presents a substantially rewritten and updated edition of his most celebrated book. No other work has made a more powerful case for the probability of the existence of God. Swinburne gives a rigorous and penetrating analysis of the most important arguments for theism: the cosmological argument; arguments from the existence of laws of nature and the 'fine-tuning' of the universe; from the occurrence of consciousness and moral awareness; and from miracles and religious experience. He claims that while none (...) of these arguments are deductively valid, they do give inductive support to theism and that, even when the argument from evil is weighed against them, taken together they offer good grounds to support the probability that there is a God. The overall structure of the discussion and its conclusion have been retained for this new edition, but much has been changed in order to strengthen the argumentation and to take account of Swinburne's subsequent work on the nature of consciousness and the problem of evil, and of the latest philosophical and scientific writing, especially in respect of the laws of nature and the argument from fine-tuning. This is now the definitive version of a classic in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Physics, once known as “natural philosophy,” is the most basic science, explaining the world we live in, from the largest scale down to the very, very, very smallest, and our understanding of it has changed over many centuries. In Black Bodies and Quantum Cats , science writer Jennifer Ouellette traces key developments in the field, setting descriptions of the fundamentals of physics in their historical context as well as against a broad cultural backdrop. Newton’s laws are illustrated via the film (...) Addams Family Values , while Back to the Future demonstrates the finer points of special relativity. Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” serves to illuminate the mysterious nature of neutrinos, and Jeanette Winterson’s novel Gut Symmetries provides an elegant metaphorical framework for string theory. An enchanting and edifying read, Black Bodies and Quantum Cats shows that physics is not an arcane field of study but a profoundly human endeavor—and a fundamental part of our everyday world. (shrink)
Why is the future so different from the past? Why does the past affect the future and not the other way round? The universe began with the Big Bang - will it end with a `Big Crunch'? Now in paperback, this book presents an innovative and controversial view of time and contemporary physics. Price urges physicists, philosophers, and anyone who has ever pondered the paradoxes of time to look at the world from a fresh perspective, and throws fascinating new light (...) on some of the great mysteries of the universe. (shrink)
The interplay between non-relativistic quantum theory and metaphysics has generated radically opposed interpretations for quantum theory. This book outlines the contours of these debates and presents an interpretation of quantum theory which resolves most of the paradoxes.
The strangeness of modern physics has sparked several popular books--such as The Tao of Physics--that explore its affinity with Eastern mysticism. But the founders of quantum mechanics were educated in the classical traditions of Western civilization and Western philosophy. In Nature Loves to Hide, physicist Shimon Malin takes readers on a fascinating tour of quantum theory--one that turns to Western philosophical thought to clarify this strange yet inescapable explanation of reality. Malin translates quantum mechanics into plain English, explaining its origins (...) and workings against the backdrop of the famous debate between Niels Bohr and the skeptical Albert Einstein. Then he moves on to build a philosophical framework that can account for the quantum nature of reality. He shows, for instance, how Platonic and Neoplatonic thought resonates with quantum theory. He draws out the linkage between the concepts of Neoplatonism and the more recent process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. The universe, Whitehead wrote, is an organic whole, composed not of lifeless objects, but "elementary experiences." Beginning with Whitehead's insight, Malin shows how this concept of "throbs of experience" expresses quantum reality, with its subatomic uncertainties, its constituents that are waves and also particles, its emphasis on acts of measurement. Once any educated person could explain the universe as a vast Newtonian web of cause and effect, but since quantum theory, reality again appears to be richer and more mysterious than we had thought. Writing with broad humanistic insight and deep knowledge of science, and using delightful conversations with fictional astronauts Peter and Julie to explain more difficult concepts, Shimon Malin offers a profound new understanding of the nature of reality--one that shows a deep continuity with aspects of our Western philosophical tradition going back 2500 years, and that feels more deeply satisfying, and truer, than the clockwork universe of Newton. (shrink)
In this new edition, Arthur Fine looks at Einstein's philosophy of science and develops his own views on realism. A new Afterword discusses the reaction to Fine's own theory. "What really led Einstein . . . to renounce the new quantum order? For those interested in this question, this book is compulsory reading."--Harvey R. Brown, American Journal of Physics "Fine has successfully combined a historical account of Einstein's philosophical views on quantum mechanics and a discussion of some of the philosophical (...) problems associated with the interpretation of quantum theory with a discussion of some of the contemporary questions concerning realism and antirealism. . . . Clear, thoughtful, [and] well-written."--Allan Franklin, Annals of Science "Attempts, from Einstein's published works and unpublished correspondence, to piece together a coherent picture of 'Einstein realism.' Especially illuminating are the letters between Einstein and fellow realist Schrodinger, as the latter was composing his famous 'Schrodinger-Cat' paper."--Nick Herbert, New Scientist "Beautifully clear. . . . Fine's analysis is penetrating, his own results original and important. . . . The book is a splendid combination of new ways to think about quantum mechanics, about realism, and about Einstein's views of both."--Nancy Cartwright, Isis. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that there exist certain objects which can in no way be distinguished from each other, unless by their location in space or other reference-system. Some of these are, in a broad sense, 'empirical objects', such as electrons. Their case would seem to be similar to that of certain mathematical 'objects', such as the minimum set of manifolds defining the dimensionality of an R -space. It is therefore at first sight surprising that there exists no branch of (...) mathematics, in which a third parity-relation, besides equality and inequality, is admitted; for this would seem to furnish an appropriate model for application to such instances as these. I hope, in this work, to show that such a mathematics in feasible, and could have useful applications if only in a limited field. The concept of what I here call 'indistinguishability' is not unknown in logic, albeit much neglected. It is mentioned, for example, by F. P. Ramsey  who criticizes Whitehead and Russell  for defining 'identity' in such a way as to make indistinguishables identical. But, so far as I can discover, no one has made any systematic attempt to open up the territory which lies behind these ideas. What we find, on doing so, is a body of mathematics, offering only a limited prospect of practical usefulness, but which on the theoretical side presents a strong challenge to conventional ideas. (shrink)
I provide a comprehensive metaphysics of causation based on the idea that fundamentally things are governed by the laws of physics, and that derivatively difference-making can be assessed in terms of what fundamental laws of physics imply for hypothesized events. Highlights include a general philosophical methodology, the fundamental/derivative distinction, and my mature account of causal asymmetry.
In this book, Hodgson presents a clear and compelling case against today's orthodox mechanistic view of the brain-mind, and in favor of the view that "the mind matters." In the course of the argument he ranges over such topics as consciousness, informal reasoning, computers, evolution, and quantum indeterminancy and non-locality. Although written from a philosophical viewpoint, the book has important implications for the sciences concerned with the brain-mind problem. At the same time, it is largely non-technical, and thus accessible to (...) the non-specialist reader. (shrink)
Throughout the history of the Western world, science has possessed an extraordinary amount of authority and prestige. And while its pedestal has been jostled by numerous evolutions and revolutions, science has always managed to maintain its stronghold as the knowing enterprise that explains how the natural world works: we treat such legendary scientists as Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein with admiration and reverence because they offer profound and sustaining insight into the meaning of the universe. In The Intelligibility of Nature (...) , Peter Dear considers how science as such has evolved and how it has marshaled itself to make sense of the world. His intellectual journey begins with a crucial observation: that the enterprise of science is, and has been, directed toward two distinct but frequently conflated ends—doing and knowing. The ancient Greeks developed this distinction of value between craft on the one hand and understanding on the other, and according to Dear, that distinction has survived to shape attitudes toward science ever since. Teasing out this tension between doing and knowing during key episodes in the history of science—mechanical philosophy and Newtonian gravitation, elective affinities and the chemical revolution, enlightened natural history and taxonomy, evolutionary biology, the dynamical theory of electromagnetism, and quantum theory—Dear reveals how the two principles became formalized into a single enterprise, science, that would be carried out by a new kind of person, the scientist. Finely nuanced and elegantly conceived, The Intelligibility of Nature will be essential reading for aficionados and historians of science alike. (shrink)