Gualtiero Piccinini articulates and defends a mechanistic account of concrete, or physical, computation. A physical system is a computing system just in case it is a mechanism one of whose functions is to manipulate vehicles based solely on differences between different portions of the vehicles according to a rule defined over the vehicles. Physical Computation discusses previous accounts of computation and argues that the mechanistic account is better. Many kinds of computation are explicated, such as digital vs. analog, serial vs. (...) parallel, neural network computation, program-controlled computation, and more. Piccinini argues that computation does not entail representation or information processing although information processing entails computation. Pancomputationalism, according to which every physical system is computational, is rejected. A modest version of the physical Church-Turing thesis, according to which any function that is physically computable is computable by Turing machines, is defended. (shrink)
In 1687 Isaac Newton ushered in a new scientific era in which laws of nature could be used to predict the movements of matter with almost perfect precision. Newton's physics also posed a profound challenge to our self-understanding, however, for the very same laws that keep airplanes in the air and rivers flowing downhill tell us that it is in principle possible to predict what each of us will do every second of our entire lives, given the early conditions (...) of the universe. Can it really be that even while you toss and turn late at night in the throes of an important decision and it seems like the scales of fate hang in the balance, that your decision is a foregone conclusion? Can it really be that everything you have done and everything you ever will do is determined by facts that were in place long before you were born? This problem is one of the staples of philosophical discussion. It is discussed by everyone from freshman in their first philosophy class, to theoretical physicists in bars after conferences. And yet there is no topic that remains more unsettling, and less well understood. If you want to get behind the façade, past the bare statement of determinism, and really try to understand what physics is telling us in its own terms, read this book. The problem of free will raises all kinds of questions. What does it mean to make a decision, and what does it mean to say that our actions are determined? What are laws of nature? What are causes? What sorts of things are we, when viewed through the lenses of physics, and how do we fit into the natural order? Ismael provides a deeply informed account of what physics tells us about ourselves. The result is a vision that is abstract, alien, illuminating, and-Ismael argues-affirmative of most of what we all believe about our own freedom. Written in a jargon-free style, How Physics Makes Us Free provides an accessible and innovative take on a central question of human existence. (shrink)
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.
Although computation and the science of physical systems would appear to be unrelated, there are a number of ways in which computational and physical concepts can be brought together in ways that illuminate both. This volume examines fundamental questions which connect scholars from both disciplines: is the universe a computer? Can a universal computing machine simulate every physical process? What is the source of the computational power of quantum computers? Are computational approaches to solving physical problems and paradoxes always fruitful? (...) Contributors from multiple perspectives reflecting the diversity of thought regarding these interconnections address many of the most important developments and debates within this exciting area of research. Both a reference to the state of the art and a valuable and accessible entry to interdisciplinary work, the volume will interest researchers and students working in physics, computer science, and philosophy of science and mathematics. (shrink)
Mark Wilson explores our strategies for understanding the world. We frequently cannot reason about nature in the straightforward manner we anticipate, but must use alternative thought processes that reach useful answers in opaque and roundabout ways; and philosophy must find better descriptive tools to reflect this.
The paper makes a case for there being causation in the form of causal properties or causal structures in the domain of fundamental physics. That case is built in the first place on an interpretation of quantum theory in terms of state reductions so that there really are both entangled states and classical properties, GRW being the most elaborate physical proposal for such an interpretation. I then argue that the interpretation that goes back to Everett can also be read (...) in a causal manner, the splitting of the world being conceivable as a causal process. Finally, I mention that the way in which general relativity theory conceives the metrical field opens up the way for a causal conception of the metrical properties as well. (shrink)
Physical Relativity explores the nature of the distinction at the heart of Einstein's 1905 formulation of his special theory of relativity: that between kinematics and dynamics. Einstein himself became increasingly uncomfortable with this distinction, and with the limitations of what he called the 'principle theory' approach inspired by the logic of thermodynamics. A handful of physicists and philosophers have over the last century likewise expressed doubts about Einstein's treatment of the relativistic behaviour of rigid bodies and clocks in motion in (...) the kinematical part of his great paper, and suggested that the dynamical understanding of length contraction and time dilation intimated by the immediate precursors of Einstein is more fundamental. Harvey Brown both examines and extends these arguments, after giving a careful analysis of key features of the pre-history of relativity theory. He argues furthermore that the geometrization of the theory by Minkowski in 1908 brought illumination, but not a causal explanation of relativistic effects. Finally, Brown tries to show that the dynamical interpretation of special relativity defended in the book is consistent with the role this theory must play as a limiting case of Einstein's 1915 theory of gravity: the general theory of relativity.Appearing in the centennial year of Einstein's celebrated paper on special relativity, Physical Relativity is an unusual, critical examination of the way Einstein formulated his theory. It also examines in detail certain specific historical and conceptual issues that have long given rise to debate in both special and general relativity theory, such as the conventionality of simultaneity, the principle of general covariance, and the consistency or otherwise of the special theory with quantum mechanics. Harvey Brown' s new interpretation of relativity theory will interest anyone working on these central topics in modern physics. (shrink)
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)
The seminal work by one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century, Physics and Philosophy is Werner Heisenberg's concise and accessible narrative of the revolution in modern physics, in which he played a towering role. The outgrowth of a celebrated lecture series, this book remains as relevant, provocative, and fascinating as when it was first published in 1958. A brilliant scientist whose ideas altered our perception of the universe, Heisenberg is considered the father of quantum (...) class='Hi'>physics; he is most famous for the Uncertainty Principle, which states that quantum particles do not occupy a fixed, measurable position. His contributions remain a cornerstone of contemporary physics theory and application. Book jacket. (shrink)
These articles and speeches by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist date from 1934 to 1958. Rather than expositions on quantum physics, the papers are philosophical in nature, exploring the relevance of atomic physics to many areas of human endeavor. Includes an essay in which Bohr and Einstein discuss quantum and_wave equation theories. 1961 edition.
After briefly discussing the relevance of the notions computation and implementation for cognitive science, I summarize some of the problems that have been found in their most common interpretations. In particular, I argue that standard notions of computation together with a state-to-state correspondence view of implementation cannot overcome difficulties posed by Putnam's Realization Theorem and that, therefore, a different approach to implementation is required. The notion realization of a function, developed out of physical theories, is then introduced as a replacement (...) for the notional pair computation-implementation. After gradual refinement, taking practical constraints into account, this notion gives rise to the notion digital system which singles out physical systems that could be actually used, and possibly even built. (shrink)
Jill North offers answers to questions at the heart of the project of interpreting physics. How do we figure out the nature of the world from a mathematically formulated theory? What do we infer about the world when a physical theory can be mathematically formulated in different ways? The notion of structure is crucial to North's answers.
Gerald Holton has famously described Einstein’s career as a philosophical “pilgrimage”. Starting on “the historic ground” of Machian positivism and phenomenalism, following the completion of general relativity in late 1915, Einstein’s philosophy endured a speculative turn: physical theorizing appears as ultimately a “pure mathematical construction” guided by faith in the simplicity of nature and a realistic turn: science is “nothing more than a refinement ”of the everyday belief in the existence of mind-independent physical reality. Nevertheless, Einstein’s mathematical constructivism that supports (...) his unified field theory program appears to be, at first sight, hardly compatible with the common sense realism with which he countered quantum theory. Thus, literature on Einstein’s philosophy of science has often struggled in finding the thread between ostensibly conflicting philosophical pronouncements. This paper supports the claim that Einstein’s dialog with Émile Meyerson from the mid 1920s till the early 1930s might be a neglected source to solve this riddle. According to Einstein, Meyerson shared his belief in the independent existence of an external world and his conviction that the latter can be grasped only by speculative means. Einstein could present his search for a unified field theory as a metaphysical-realistic program opposed to the positivistic-operationalist spirit of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
The _Physics_ is a foundational work of western philosophy, and the crucial one for understanding Aristotle's views on matter, form, essence, causation, movement, space, and time. This richly annotated, scrupulously accurate, and consistent translation makes it available to a contemporary English reader as no other does—in part because it fits together seamlessly with other closely associated works in the New Hackett Aristotle series, such as the _Metaphysics_, _De Anima_, and forthcoming _De Caelo_ and _On Coming to Be and Passing Away_. (...) Eventually the series will include all of Aristotle's works. Sequentially numbered endnotes provide the information most needed at each juncture, while a detailed Index of Terms indicates places where focused discussion of key notions occurs. An illuminating general Introduction describes the book that lies ahead, explaining what sort of work it is and what sorts of evidence it relies on. (shrink)
In Physical Realization, Sydney Shoemaker considers the question of how physicalism can be true: how can all facts about the world, including mental ones, be constituted by facts about the distribution in the world of physical properties? Physicalism requires that the mental properties of a person are 'realized in' the physical properties of that person, and that all instantiations of properties in macroscopic objects are realized in microphysical states of affairs. Shoemaker offers an account of both these sorts of realization, (...) one which allows the realized properties to be causally efficacious. He also explores the implications of this account for a wide range of metaphysical issues, including the nature of persistence through time, the problem of material constitution, the possibility of emergent properties, and the nature of phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
R.I.G. Hughes presents a series of eight philosophical essays on the theoretical practices of physics. The first two essays examine these practices as they appear in physicists' treatises and journal articles. By treating these publications as texts, Hughes casts the philosopher of science in the role of critic. This premise guides the following six essays which deal with various concerns of philosophy and physics such as laws, disunities, models and representation, computer simulation, explanation, and the discourse of (...) class='Hi'>physics. (shrink)
Statistical mechanics is one of the crucial fundamental theories of physics, and in his new book Lawrence Sklar, one of the pre-eminent philosophers of physics, offers a comprehensive, non-technical introduction to that theory and to attempts to understand its foundational elements. Among the topics treated in detail are: probability and statistical explanation, the basic issues in both equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, the role of cosmology, the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics, and the alleged foundation of the (...) very notion of time asymmetry in the entropic asymmetry of systems in time. The book emphasises the interaction of scientific and philosophical modes of reasoning, and in this way will interest all philosophers of science as well as those in physics and chemistry concerned with philosophical questions. The book could also be read by an informed general reader interested in the foundations of modern science. (shrink)
This report reviews what quantum physics and information theory have to tell us about the age-old question, How come existence? No escape is evident from four conclusions: (1) The world cannot be a giant machine, ruled by any preestablished continuum physical law. (2) There is no such thing at the microscopic level as space or time or spacetime continuum. (3) The familiar probability function or functional, and wave equation or functional wave equation, of standard quantum theory provide mere continuum (...) idealizations and by reason of this circumstance conceal the information-theoretic source from which they derive. (4) No element in the description of physics shows itself as closer to primordial than the elementary quantum phenomenon, that is, the elementary device-intermediated act of posing a yes-no physical question and eliciting an answer or, in brief, the elementary act of observer-participancy. Otherwise stated, every physical quantity, every it, derives its ultimate significance from bits, binary yes-or-no indications, a conclusion which we epitomize in the phrase, it from bit. (shrink)
Fundamental Causation addresses issues in the metaphysics of deterministic singular causation, the metaphysics of events, property instances, facts, preventions, and omissions, as well as the debate between causal reductionists and causal anti-reductionists. The book also pays special attention to causation and causal structure in physics. Weaver argues that causation is a multigrade obtaining relation that is transitive, irreflexive, and asymmetric. When causation is singular, deterministic and such that it relates purely contingent events, the relation is also universal, intrinsic, and (...) well-founded. He shows that proper causal relata are events understood as states of substances at ontological indices. He then proves that causation cannot be reduced to some non-causal base, and that the best account of that relation should be unashamedly primitivist about the dependence relation that underwrites its very nature. The book demonstrates a distinctive realist and anti-reductionist account of causation by detailing precisely how the account outperforms reductionist and competing anti-reductionist accounts in that it handles all of the difficult cases while overcoming all of the general objections to anti-reductionism upon which other anti-reductionist accounts falter. This book offers an original and interesting view of causation and will appeal to scholars and advanced students in the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of physics. (shrink)
The essays in this volume were written by leading researchers on classical mechanics, statistical mechanics, quantum theory, and relativity. They detail central topics in the foundations of physics, including the role of symmetry principles in classical and quantum physics, Einstein's hole argument in general relativity, quantum mechanics and special relativity, quantum correlations, quantum logic, and quantum probability and information.
Here the philosopher and physicist David Z Albert argues, among other things, that the difference between past and future can be understood as a mechanical phenomenon of nature and that quantum mechanics makes it impossible to present the entirety of what can be said about the world as a narrative of “befores” and “afters.”.
Through both an historical and philosophical analysis of the concept of possibility, we show how including both potentiality and actuality as part of the real is both compatible with experience and contributes to solving key problems of fundamental process and emergence. The book is organized into four main sections that incorporate our routes to potentiality: potentiality in modern science [history and philosophy; quantum physics and complexity]; Relational Realism [ontological interpretation of quantum physics; philosophy and logic]; Process Physics (...) [ontological interpretation of relativity theory; physics and philosophy]; on speculative philosophy and physics [limitations and approximations; process philosophy]. We conclude that certain fundamental problems in modern physics require complementary analyses of certain philosophical and metaphysical issues, and that such scholarship reveals intrinsic features and limits of determinism, potentiality and emergence that enable, among others, important progress on the quantum theory of measurement problem and new understandings of emergence. (shrink)
This book is devoted to a thorough analysis of the role that models play in the practise of physical theory. The authors, a mathematical physicist and a philosopher of science, appeal to the logicians’ notion of model theory as well as to the concepts of physicists.
Grete Hermann was a pupil of mathematical physicist Emmy Noether, follower and co-worker of neo-Kantian philosopher Leonard Nelson, and an important intellectual figure in post-war German social democracy. She is best known for her work on the philosophy of modern physics in the 1930s, some of which emerged from intense discussions with Heisenberg and Weizsäcker in Leipzig. Hermann’s aim was to counter the threat to the Kantian notion of causality coming from quantum mechanics. She also discussed in depth the (...) question of ‘hidden variables’ and provided an extensive analysis of Bohr’s notion of complementarity. This volume includes translations of Hermann’s two most important essays on this topic: one hitherto unpublished and one translated here into English for the first time. It also brings together recent scholarly contributions by historians and philosophers of science, physicists, and philosophers and educators following in Hermann’s steps. Hermann's work places her in the first rank among philosophers who wrote about modern physics in the first half of the last century. Those interested in the many fields to which she contributed will find here a comprehensive discussion of her philosophy of physics that places it in the context of her wider work. (shrink)
The question of what ontological insights can be gained from the knowledge of physics (keyword: ontic structural realism) cannot obviously be separated from the view of physics as a science from an epistemological perspective. This is also visible in the debate about 'scientific realism'. This debate makes it evident, in the form of the importance of perception as a criterion for the assertion of existence in relation to the 'theoretical entities' of physics, that epistemology itself is 'ontologically (...) laden'. This is in the form of the assumption that things (or entities) in themselves exist as such and such determined ones (independent of cognition, autonomously). This ontological assumption is not only the basis of our naïve understanding of cognition, but also its indispensable premise, insofar as this understanding is a fundamentally passive, 'receptive' one. Accordingly, just as 'perception' is the foundation, ('objective') description is the aim of cognition, that which cognition is about. In this sense, our idea of cognition and our idea of the things are inseparably linked. Without the ontological premise mentioned we just would not know what cognition is, but it is basically just a kind of image that we have in our minds (an assumption that helps us understand 'cognition'). Epistemology not only shares this basic assumption (which it also shares with metaphysics), but it revolves (unlike metaphysics) entirely around it by making the idea and demand of 'certainty' a condition of 'real' knowledge. As 'certainty' is a subjective criterion this entails the 'remodelling' of the real, holistic cognitive situation (to which metaphysics adheres) into a linear subject-object-relation (which results in the strict 'transcendence' of the objects). And it also establishes, due to its 'expertise' in matters of cognition, the 'primacy of epistemology' over all other sciences. Now, on closer inspection, however, the expertise of epistemology seems not all that dependable, because it basically consists only of paradigms which, from the point of view of the holism of the real cognitive situation itself, are nothing more than relatively simplistic interpretations of this situation. However, we do not yet know what another conception of cognition might look like (which is not surprising given the high rank of the phenomenon of cognition in the hierarchy of phenomena according to their complexity). 'Certainty' as a criterion of cognition is thus excluded from the outset, and thus the linear relational model of cognition appears as what it is, a gross distortion of the real, holistic cognitive situation. The significance of this argumentation with regard to physics is that the linear epistemological model of cognition itself is a major obstacle to an adequate epistemological understanding of physics. This is because it is fixed 'a priori' to an object-related concept of cognition, and to 'description' as the only mode of ('real') cognition. But physics (without questioning our naïve notion of cognition on the level of epistemology) simply works past it and its basic assumptions. Its cognitive concept (alias heuristic) is fundamentally different from that of metaphysics. The acceptance of the real, holistic cognitive situation is, in my opinion, the condition for an adequate understanding of physics' heuristic access to objects, its transcendental, generalizing cognitive concept, as well as its ontological relevance and dimension of its own. (shrink)
Collaboration on the First Edition of Spacetime Physics began in the mid-1960s when Edwin Taylor took a junior faculty sabbatical at Princeton University where John Wheeler was a professor. The resulting text emphasized the unity of spacetime and those quantities (such as proper time, proper distance, mass) that are invariant, the same for all observers, rather than those quantities (such as space and time separations) that are relative, different for different observers. The book has become a standard introduction to (...) relativity. The Second Edition of Spacetime Physics embodies what the authors have learned during an additional quarter century of teaching and research. They have updated the text to reflect the immense strides in physics during the same period and modernized and increased the number of exercises, for which the First Edition was famous. Enrichment boxes provide expanded coverage of intriguing topics. An enlarged final chapter on general relativity includes new material on gravity waves, black holes, and cosmology. The Second Edition of Spacetime Physics provides a new generation of readers with a deep and simple overview of the principles of relativity. (shrink)
This book defends a radical new theory of contingency as a physical phenomenon. Drawing on the many-worlds approach to quantum theory and cutting-edge metaphysics and philosophy of science, it argues that quantum theories are best understood as telling us about the space of genuine possibilities, rather than as telling us solely about actuality. When quantum physics is taken seriously in the way first proposed by Hugh Everett III, it provides the resources for a new systematic metaphysical framework encompassing possibility, (...) necessity, actuality, chance, counterfactuals, and a host of related modal notions. -/- Rationalist metaphysicians argue that the metaphysics of modality is strictly prior to any scientific investigation; metaphysics establishes which worlds are possible, and physics merely checks which of these worlds is actual. Naturalistic metaphysicians respond that science may discover new possibilities and new impossibilities. This book's quantum theory of contingency takes naturalistic metaphysics one step further, allowing that science may discover what it is to be possible. As electromagnetism revealed the nature of light, as acoustics revealed the nature of sound, as statistical mechanics revealed the nature of heat, so quantum physics reveals the nature of contingency. (shrink)
I argue that the best interpretation of the general theory of relativity has need of a causal entity, and causal structure that is not reducible to light cone structure. I suggest that this causal interpretation of GTR helps defeat a key premise in one of the most popular arguments for causal reductionism, viz., the argument from physics.
It is shown how the development of physics has involved making explicit what were homocentric projections which had heretofore been implicit, indeed inexpressible in theory. This is shown to support a particular notion of the invariant as the real. On this basis the divergence in ideals of physical intelligibility between Bohr and Einstein is set out. This in turn leads to divergent, but explicit, conceptions of objectivity and completeness for physical theory. *I am indebted to Dr. G. McLelland. Professor (...) F. Rohrlich and an anonymous referee of this journal for several improvements in the formulation of the paper. (shrink)
Consciousness in the Physical World collects historical selections, recent classics, and new pieces on Russellian monism, a unique alternative to the physicalist and dualist approaches to the problem of consciousness.
In selecting the papers for this volume I have excluded all physics papers proper. I have further omitted all book rev.iews. Instead, I have included two papers not published previously; they are marked by an asterisk in the table of contents. Since many of the papers were occasioned by Symposia or similar gatherings their chronological order is rather accidental. Hence I have tried to group the papers thematically into four parts. Within each part the order of sequence is from (...) the more general to the more special, or from a more popular to a more technical treatment. The same principle has been applied to the sequential order of the parts. The foundational papers on quantum mechanics have been arranged in a somewhat dif ferent manner. Chapters XVI-XIX are concerned with the logic of complementarity while in Chapters XX-XXII a more radical recon ceptualization is carried out. Two of the older papers have been revised to bring them more into line with present terminology. Other papers have been corrected by additions and omissions. Additions are marked by square brackets [ ], while double square brackets [[ II signify omis sions or parts to be omitted. Hence [[A]] [B] means that 'A' should be replaced by 'B'. The heading of one paper has been changed to make it more descriptive. (shrink)
Michel Serres is one of the most influential living theorists in European philosophy. This volume makes available a work which has a foundational place in the development of chaos theory, representing a tour de force application of the principles underlying Serres’ distinctive philosophy of science.
The idea that there could be spatially extended mereological simples has recently been defended by a number of metaphysicians (Markosian 1998, 2004; Simons 2004; Parsons (2000) also takes the idea seriously). Peter Simons (2004) goes further, arguing not only that spatially extended mereological simples (henceforth just extended simples) are possible, but that it is more plausible that our world is composed of such simples, than that it is composed of either point-sized simples, or of atomless gunk. The difficulty for these (...) views lies in explaining why it is that the various sub-volumes of space occupied by such simples, are not occupied by proper parts of those simples. Intuitively at least, many of us find compelling the idea that spatially extended objects have proper parts at every sub-volume of the region they occupy. It seems that the defender of extended simples must reject a seemingly plausible claim, what Simons calls the geometric correspondence principle (GCP): that any (spatially) extended object has parts that correspond to the parts of the region that it occupies (Simons 2004: 371). We disagree. We think that GCP is a plausible principle. We also think it is plausible that our world is composed of extended simples. We reconcile these two notions by two means. On the one hand we pay closer attention to the physics of our world. On the other hand, we consider what happens when our concept of something—in this case space—contains elements not all of which are realized in anything, but instead key components are realized in different features of the world. (shrink)
The appeal of materialism lies precisely in this, in its claim to be natural metaphysics within the bounds of science. That a doctrine which promises to gratify our ambition (to know the noumenal) and our caution (not to be unscientific) should have great appeal is hardly something to be wondered at. (Putnam (1983), p.210) Materialism says that all facts, in particular all mental facts, obtain in virtue of the spatio- temporal distribution, and properties, of matter. It was, as Putnam says, (...) “metaphysics within the bounds of science”, but only so long as science was thought to say that the world is made out of matter.1 In this century physicists have learned that there is more in the world than matter and, in any case, matter isn’t quite what it seemed to be. For this reason many philosophers who think that metaphysics should be informed by science advocate physicalism in place of materialism. Physicalism claims that all facts obtain in virtue of the distribution of the fundamental entities and properties –whatever they turn out to be- of completed fundamental physics. Later I will discuss a more precise formulation. But not all contemporary philosophers embrace physicalism. Some- and though a minority not a small or un-influential one- think that physicalism is rather the metaphysics for an unjustified scientism; i.e. it is scientistic metaphysics. Those among them that think that physicalism can be clearly formulated think that it characterizes a. (shrink)
From an early age, humans know a surprising amount about basic physical principles, such as gravity, force, mass, and shape. We can see this in the way that young children play, and manipulate objects around them. The same behaviour has long been observed in primates - chimpanzees have been shown to possess a remarkable ability to make and use simple tools. But what does this tell us about their inner mental state - do they therefore share the same understanding to (...) that of a young child? Do they understand the simple, underlying physical principles involved? Though some people would say that they do, this book reports groundbreaking research that questions whether this really is the case. -/- Folk Physics for Apes challenges the assumptions so often made about apes. It offers us a rare glimpse into the workings of another mind, examining how apes perceive and understand the physical world - an understanding that appears to be both similar to, and yet profoundly different from our own. The book will have broad appeal to evolutionary psychologists, developmental psychologists, and those interested in the sub-disciplines of cognitive science (philosophy, anthropology). The book additionally offers for developmental psychologists some valuable new non-verbal techniques for assessing causal understanding in young children. (shrink)
This book combines physics, philosophy, and history in a radical new approach to introducing the philosophy of physics. It leads the reader through several central problems in the philosophy of physics by tracing their connections to a single issue: whether a cause must be spatiotemporally local to its effect, or whether action at a distance can occur.
The book is drawn from the Tarner lectures, delivered in Cambridge in 1993. It is concerned with the ultimate nature of reality, and how this is revealed by modern physical theories such as relativity and quantum theory. The objectivity and rationality of science are defended against the views of relativists and social constructionists. It is claimed that modern physics gives us a tentative and fallible, but nevertheless rational, approach to the nature of physical reality. The role of subjectivity in (...) science is examined in the fields of relativity theory, statistical mechanics and quantum theory, and recent claims of an essential role for human consciousness in physics is rejected. Prospects for a 'Theory of Everything' are considered, and the related question of how to assess scientific progress is carefully examined. (shrink)