The finding that intuitions about the reference of proper names vary cross-culturally was one of the early milestones in experimental philosophy. Many follow-up studies investigated the scope and magnitude of such cross-cultural effects, but our paper provides the first systematic meta-analysis of studies replicating. In the light of our results, we assess the existence and significance of cross-cultural effects for intuitions about the reference of proper names.
Why did Einstein tirelessly study unified field theory for more than 30 years? In this book, the author argues that Einstein believed he could find a unified theory of all of nature's forces by repeating the methods he used when he formulated general relativity. The book discusses Einstein's route to the general theory of relativity, focusing on the philosophical lessons that he learnt. It then addresses his quest for a unified theory for electromagnetism and gravity, discussing in detail his efforts (...) with Kaluza-Klein and, surprisingly, the theory of spinors. From these perspectives, Einstein's critical stance towards the quantum theory comes to stand in a new light. This book will be of interest to physicists, historians and philosophers of science. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss the epistemological positions of evolution theories. A sharp distinction is made between the theory that species evolved from common ancestors along specified lines of descent (here called the theory of common descent), and the theories intended as causal explanations of evolution (e.g. Lamarck's and Darwin's theory). The theory of common descent permits a large number of predictions of new results that would be improbable without evolution. For instance, (a) phylogenetic trees have been validated now; (b) (...) the observed order in fossils of new species discovered since Darwin's time could be predicted from the theory of common descent; (c) owing to the theory of common descent, the degrees of similarity and difference in newly discovered properties of more or less related species could be predicted. Such observations can be regarded as attempts to falsify the theory of common descent. We conclude that the theory of common descent is an easily-falsifiable & often-tested & still-not-falsified theory, which is the strongest predicate a theory in an empirical science can obtain. Theories intended as causal explanations of evolution can be falsified essentially, and Lamarck's theory has been falsified actually. Several elements of Darwin's theory have been modified or falsified: new versions of a theory of evolution by natural selection are now the leading scientific theories on evolution. We have argued that the theory of common descent and Darwinism are ordinary, falsifiable scientific theories. (shrink)
In his search for a unified field theory that could undercut quantum mechanics, Einstein considered five-dimensional classical Kaluza-Klein theory. He studied this theory most intensively during the years 1938-1943. One of his primary objectives was finding a non-singular particle solution. In the full theory this search got frustrated, and in the x 5 -independent theory Einstein, together with Pauli, argued it would be impossible to find these structures.
'Holographic' relations between theories have become a main theme in quantum gravity research. These relations entail that a theory without gravity is equivalent to a gravitational theory with an extra spatial dimension. The idea of holography was first proposed in 1993 by Gerard 't Hooft on the basis of his studies of evaporating black holes. Soon afterwards the holographic 'AdS/CFT' duality was introduced, which since has been heavily studied in the string theory community and beyond. Recently, Erik Verlinde has proposed (...) that even Newton's law of gravitation can be related holographically to the thermodynamics of information on screens. We discuss inter-theoretical relations in these scenarios: what is the status of the holographic relation in them and in what sense is gravity, or spacetime, emergent? (shrink)
In the last decade, many problematic cases of scientific conduct have been diagnosed; some of which involve outright fraud others are more subtle. These and similar problems can be interpreted as caused by lack of scientific objectivity. The current philosophical theories of objectivity do not provide scientists with conceptualizations that can be effectively put into practice in remedying these issues. We propose a novel way of thinking about objectivity for individual scientists; a negative and dynamic approach.We provide a philosophical conceptualization (...) of objectivity that is informed by empirical research. In particular, it is our intention to take the first steps in providing an empirically and methodologically informed inventory of factors that impair the scientific practice. The inventory will be compiled into a negative conceptualization, which could in principle be used by individual scientists to assess objectivity of scientific practice. We propose a preliminary outline of a usable and testable instrument for indicating the objectivity of scientific practice. (shrink)