Substantivalists claim that spacetime enjoys an existence analogous to that of material bodies, while relationalists seek to reduce spacetime to sets of possible spatiotemporal relations. The resulting debate has been central to the philosophy of space and time since the Scientific Revolution. Recently, many philosophers of physics have turned away from the debate, claiming that it is no longer of any relevance to physics. At the same time, there has been renewed interest in the debate among physicists working on quantum (...) gravity, who claim that the conceptual problems which they face are intimately related to interpretative questions concerning general relativity . My goal is to show that the physicists are correct--there is a close relationship between the interpretative issues of classical and quantum gravity. ;In the first part of the dissertation I challenge the received view that substantivalism has a commanding advantage over relationalism on grounds internal to GR. I argue that this view is based on a misconception of the relationships between realism and substantivalism, and between empiricism and relationalism. This has led to a narrow conception of relationalism. Once this is relinquished it can be seen that none of the standard arguments in favor of substantivalism are cogent. ;In the second part of the dissertation, I consider the way in which considerations arising out of quantum gravity bear upon the substantival-relational debate. I develop a framework in which to discuss the interpretative problems of gauge theories and place GR in this context. From this perspective, I provide a taxonomy of interpretative options, and show how the hole argument arises naturally as a consequence of gauge freedom. This means that certain substantivalist interpretations of GR render the theory indeterministic. In the final chapter, I argue that, far from being a drawback, this presents an opportunity for substantivalists. Examples from quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and quantum gravity, are used to demonstrate that the ambiguities inherent in quantization can lead to an interpretative interplay between theories. In the case of quantum gravity, this means that substantivalism and relationalism suggest, and are suggested by, distinct approaches to quantizing GR. (shrink)
It seems to me that no substantial support can be provided for the thesis that the Darwinian theory of evolution drew significantly upon ideas in contemporary Political Economy. What Darwin may have derived from Malthus was not an integral part of the theory of population that the classical economists, including Malthus, put forward. He did not know the literature of Political Economy; and if he had been acquainted with it, he would not have been able to derive anything from it (...) that was important for the theory of natural selection. The judgment that “with Darwin's theory there was a real transfer of knowledge from political economy to biology” (Pancaldi 1985:262) cannot be sustained. (shrink)
Challenging recent work that contends that seventeenth-century English discourses privilege the notion of a self-enclosed, self-sufficient individual, The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature recovers a counter-tradition that imagines selves as more passively prompted than actively choosing. This tradition - which Scott Paul Gordon locates in seventeenth-century religious discourse, in early eighteenth-century moral philosophy, in mid eighteenth-century acting theory, and in the emergent novel - resists autonomy and defers agency from the individual to an external 'prompter'. (...)Gordon argues that the trope of passivity aims to guarantee a disinterested self in a culture that was increasingly convinced that every deliberate action involves calculating one's own interest. Gordon traces the origins of such ideas from their roots in the non-conformist religious tradition to their flowering in one of the central texts of eighteenth-century literature, Samuel Richardson's Clarissa. (shrink)
The main theme of these lectures is man's struggle to understand himself as a social being. A discussion of the major problems confronting man in his attempts to come to grips with the modern social world ends with a plea for liberalism and rationalism as the political and intellectual foundations of freedom and progress.
Physicists who work on canonical quantum gravity will sometimes remark that the general covariance of general relativity is responsible for many of the thorniest technical and conceptual problems in their field.1 In particular, it is sometimes alleged that one can trace to this single source a variety of deep puzzles about the nature of time in quantum gravity, deep disagreements surrounding the notion of ‘observable’ in classical and quantum gravity, and deep questions about the nature of the existence of spacetime (...) in general relativity. Philosophers who think about these things are sometimes skeptical about such claims. We have all learned that Kretschmann was quite correct to urge against Einstein that the “General Theory of Relativity” was no such thing, since any theory could be cast in a generally covariant form, and hence the general covariance of general relativity could not have any physical content, let alone bear the kind of weight that Einstein expected it to.2 Friedman’s assessment is widely accepted: “As Kretschmann first pointed out in 1917, the principle of general covariance has no physical content whatever: it specifies no particular physical theory; rather, it merely expresses our commitment to a certain style of formulating physical theories” (1984, p. 44). Such considerations suggest that general covariance, as a technically crucial but physically contentless feature of general relativity, simply cannot be the source of any significant conceptual or physical problems.3 Physicists are, of course, conscious of the weight of Kretschmann’s points against Einstein. Yet they are considerably more ambivalent than their philosophical colleagues. Consider Kuchaˇr’s conclusion at the end of a discussion of this topic. (shrink)
This essay revisits some classic problems in the philosophy of space and time concerning the counting of possibilities. I argue that we should think that two Newtonian worlds can differ only as to when or where things happen and that general relativistic worlds can differ in something like the same way—the first of these theses being quaintly heterodox, the second baldly heretical, according to the mores of contemporary philosophy of physics.
GordonBelot investigates the distinctive notion of geometric possibility that relationalists rely upon. He examines the prospects for adapting to the geometric case the standard philosophical accounts of the related notion of physical possibility, with particular emphasis on Humean, primitivist, and necessitarian accounts of physical and geometric possibility. This contribution to the debate concerning the nature of space will be of interest not only to philosophers and metaphysicians concerned with space and time, but also to those interested in (...) laws of nature, modal notions, or more general issues in ontology. (shrink)
Under so-called primitive ontology approaches, in fully describing the history of a quantum system, one thereby attributes interesting properties to regions of spacetime. Primitive ontology approaches, which include some varieties of Bohmian mechanics and spontaneous collapse theories, are interesting in part because they hold out the hope that it should not be too difficult to make a connection between models of quantum mechanics and descriptions of histories of ordinary macroscopic bodies. But such approaches are dualistic, positing a quantum state as (...) well as ordinary material degrees of freedom. This paper lays out and compares some options that primitive ontologists have for making sense of the quantum state. (shrink)
Lower plasma levels of high-density lipoproteins in adolescents with type 2 diabetes have been associated with a higher pulse wave velocity, a marker of arterial stiffness. Evidence suggests that HDL proteins or particle subspecies are altered in T2D and these may drive these relationships. In this work, we set out to reveal any specific proteins and subspecies that are related to arterial stiffness in youth with T2D from proteomics data. Plasma and PWV measurements were previously acquired from lean and T2D (...) adolescents. Each plasma sample was separated into 18 fractions and evaluated by mass spectrometry. Then, we applied a validated network-based computational approach to reveal HDL subspecies associated with PWV. Among 68 detected phospholipid-associated proteins, we found that seven were negatively correlated with PWV, indicating that they may be atheroprotective. Conversely, nine proteins show positive correlation with PWV, suggesting that they may be related to arterial stiffness. Intriguingly, our results demonstrate that apoA-I and histidine-rich glycoprotein may reverse their protective roles and become antagonistic in the setting of T2D. Furthermore, we revealed two arterial stiffness-associated HDL subspecies, each of which contains multiple PWV-related proteins. Correlation and disease association analyses suggest that these HDL subspecies might link T2D to its cardiovascular-related complications. (shrink)
Although it is conceded that distinct knowledge domains do presentparticular problems of coming to know, in thispaper it is argued that it is possible to construct a domain independent modelof the processes of coming to know, one inwhich observers share understandings and do soin agreed ways. The model in question is partof the conversation theory of Gordon Pask. CT, as a theory of theory construction andcommunication, has particular relevance forfoundational issues in science and scienceeducation. CT explicitly propounds a ``radicalconstructivist'' (...) epistemology. A briefaccount is given of the main tenets of RC andCT's place in that tradition and the traditionsof cybernetics. The paper presents a briefnon-technical account of the main concepts ofCT including elaborations by Laurillard andHarri-Augstein and Thomas. As part of CT, Pask also elaborated a methodology – knowledgeand task analysis – for analysing the structureof different knowledge domains; thismethodology is sketched in outline. (shrink)
It is often said that the Aharonov-Bohm effect shows that the vector potential enjoys more ontological significance than we previously realized. But how can a quantum-mechanical effect teach us something about the interpretation of Maxwell's theory—let alone about the ontological structure of the world—when both theories are false? I present a rational reconstruction of the interpretative repercussions of the Aharonov-Bohm effect, and suggest some morals for our conception of the interpretative enterprise.
This paper is concerned with the relation between two notions: that of two solutions or models of a theory being related by a symmetry of the theory and that of solutions or models being physically equivalent. A number of authors have recently discussed this relation, some taking an optimistic view, on which there is a suitable concept of the symmetry of a theory relative to which these two notions coincide, others taking a pessimistic view, on which there is no such (...) concept. The present paper arrives at a cautiously pessimistic conclusion. (shrink)
A piece of folklore enjoys some currency among philosophical Bayesians, according to which Bayesian agents that, intuitively speaking, spread their credence over the entire space of available hypotheses are certain to converge to the truth. The goals of the present discussion are to show that kernel of truth in this folklore is in some ways fairly small and to argue that Bayesian convergence-to-the-truth results are a liability for Bayesianism as an account of rationality, since they render a certain sort of (...) arrogance rationally mandatory. (shrink)
Intuitively, a classical field theory is background-in- dependent if the structure required to make sense of its equations is itself subject to dynamical evolution, rather than being imposed ab initio. The aim of this paper is to provide an explication of this intuitive notion. Background-independence is not a not formal property of theories: the question whether a theory is background-independent depends upon how the theory is interpreted. Under the approach proposed here, a theory is fully background-independent relative to an interpretation (...) if each physical possibility corresponds to a distinct spacetime geometry; and it falls short of full background-independence to the extent that this condition fails. (shrink)
BackgroundKinarm Standard Tests is a suite of upper limb tasks to assess sensory, motor, and cognitive functions, which produces granular performance data that reflect spatial and temporal aspects of behavior. We have previously used principal component analysis to reduce the dimensionality of multivariate data using the Kinarm End-Point Lab. Here, we performed PCA using data from the Kinarm Exoskeleton Lab, and determined agreement of PCA results across EP and EXO platforms in healthy participants. We additionally examined whether further dimensionality reduction (...) was possible by using PCA across behavioral tasks.MethodsHealthy participants were assessed using the Kinarm EXO and EP. Four behavioral tasks were performed that quantified arm sensory and motor function, including position sense [Arm Position Matching ] and three motor tasks [Visually Guided Reaching, Object Hit, and Object Hit and Avoid ]. The number of components to include per task was determined from scree plots and parallel analysis, and rotation type was decided on a per-task basis. To assess agreement, we compared principal components across platforms using distance correlation. We additionally considered inter-task interactions in EXO data by performing PCA across all six behavioral assessments.ResultsBy applying PCA on a per task basis to data collected using the EXO, the number of behavioral parameters were substantially reduced by 58–75% while accounting for 76–87% of the variance. These results compared well to the EP analysis, and we found good-to-excellent agreement values between PCs from the EXO and those from the EP. Finally, we were able to reduce the dimensionality of the EXO data across tasks down to 16 components out of a total of 76 behavioral parameters, which represents a reduction of 79% while accounting for 73% of the total variance.ConclusionPCA of Kinarm robotic assessment appears to capture similar relationships between kinematic features in healthy individuals and is agnostic to the robotic platform used for collection. Further work is needed to investigate the use of PCA-based data reduction for the characterization of neurological deficits in clinical populations. (shrink)
Batterman has recently argued that fundamental theories are typically explanatorily inadequate, in that there exist physical phenomena whose explanation requires that the conceptual apparatus of a fundamental theory be supplemented by that of a less fundamental theory. This paper is an extended critical commentary on that argument: situating its importance, describing its structure, and developing a line of objection to it. The objection is that in the examples Batterman considers, the mathematics of the less fundamental theory is definable in terms (...) of the mathematics of the fundamental theory and that only the latter need be given a physical interpretation---so we can view the desired explanation as drawing only upon resources internal to the more fundamental physical theory. (The paper also includes an appendix surveying some recent results on quantum chaos.). (shrink)
The classical field theories that underlie the quantum treatments of the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces share a peculiar feature: specifying the initial state of the field determines the evolution of some degrees of freedom of the theory while leaving the evolution of some others wholly arbitrary. This strongly suggests that some of the variables of the standard state space lack physical content-intuitively, the space of states of such a theory is of higher dimension than the corresponding space of genuine (...) physical possibilities. The structure of such theories can helpfully be characterized in terms of the action of symmetry groups on their space of states; and the conceptual problems surrounding their strange behavior can be sharpened in light of the observation that it is usually possible to eliminate the redundant variables associated with these symmetries-which turn out to be precisely those variables whose evolution is unconstrained by the dynamical laws of the theory. This paper discusses this approach, uses it to frame questions about the interpretation of classical gauge theories, and to reflect (pessimistically) on our prospects of reaching satisfactory answers to these questions. (shrink)
The twin goals of this essay are: to investigate a family of cases in which the goal of guaranteed convergence to the truth is beyond our reach; and to argue that each of three strands prominent in contemporary epistemological thought has undesirable consequences when confronted with the existence of such problems. Approaches that follow Reichenbach in taking guaranteed convergence to the truth to be the characteristic virtue of good methods face a vicious closure problem. Approaches on which there is a (...) unique rational doxastic response to any given body of evidence can avoid incoherence only by rendering epistemology a curiously limited enterprise. Bayesian approaches rule out humility about one’s prospects of success in certain situations in which failure is typical. (shrink)
I will discuss only one of the several entwined strands of the philosophy of space and time, the question of the relation between the nature of motion and the geometrical structure of the world.1 This topic has many of the virtues of the best philosophy of science. It is of long-standing philosophical interest and has a rich history of connections to problems of physics. It has loomed large in discussions of space and time among contemporary philosophers of science. Furthermore, there (...) is, I think, widespread agreement that recent insights here have lead to a genuine deepening of our understanding. (shrink)
This chapter is concerned with the representation of time and change in classical (i.e., non-quantum) physical theories. One of the main goals of the chapter is to attempt to clarify the nature and scope of the so-called problem of time: a knot of technical and interpretative problems that appear to stand in the way of attempts to quantize general relativity, and which have their roots in the general covariance of that theory. The most natural approach to these questions is via (...) a consideration of more clear cases. So much of the chapter is given over to a discussion of the representation of time and change in other, better understood theories, starting with the most straightforward cases and proceeding through a consideration of cases that lead up to the features of general relativity that are responsible for the problem of time. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with learners who aim to learn patterns in infinite binary sequences: shown longer and longer initial segments of a binary sequence, they either attempt to predict whether the next bit will be a 0 or will be a 1 or they issue forecast probabilities for these events. Several variants of this problem are considered. In each case, a no-free-lunch result of the following form is established: the problem of learning is a formidably difficult one, in that (...) no matter what method is pursued, failure is incomparably more common that success; and difficult choices must be faced in choosing a method of learning, since no approach dominates all others in its range of success. In the simplest case, the comparison of the set of situations in which a method fails and the set of situations in which it succeeds is a matter of cardinality (countable vs. uncountable); in other cases, it is a topological matter (meagre vs. co-meagre) or a hybrid computational-topological matter (effectively meagre vs. effectively co-meagre). (shrink)
Physicists who work on canonical quantum gravity will sometimes remark that the general covariance of general relativity is responsible for many of the thorniest technical and conceptual problems in their ﬁeld.1 In particular, it is sometimes alleged that one can trace to this single source a variety of deep puzzles about the nature of time in quantum gravity, deep disagreements surrounding the notion of ‘observable’ in classical and quantum gravity, and deep questions about the nature of the existence of spacetime (...) in general relativity. (shrink)
The paper is about the physical theories which result when one identifies points in phase space related by symmetries; with applications to problems concerning gauge freedom and the structure of spacetime in classical mechanics.
I argue that the conviction, widespread among philosophers, that substantivalism enjoys a clear superiority over relationalism in both Newtonian and relativistic physics is ill-founded. There are viable relationalist approaches to understanding these theories, and the substantival-relational debate should be of interest to philosophers and physicists alike, because of its connection with questions about the correct space of states for various physical theories.
We discuss the relationship between the interpretative problems of quantum gravity and those of general relativity. We argue that classical and quantum theories of gravity resuscitate venerable philosophical questions about the nature of space, time, and change; and that the resolution of some of the difficulties facing physicists working on quantum theories of gravity would appear to require philosophical as well as scientific creativity.
Stephen Hawking has argued that universes containing evaporating black holes can evolve from pure initial states to mixed final ones. Such evolution is non-unitary and so contravenes fundamental quantum principles on which Hawking's analysis was based. It disables the retrodiction of the universe's initial state from its final one, and portends the time-asymmetry of quantum gravity. Small wonder that Hawking's paradox has met with considerable resistance. Here we use a simple result for C*-algebras to offer an argument for pure-to-mixed state (...) evolution in black hole evaporation, and review responses to the Hawking paradox with respect to how effectively they rebut this argument. (shrink)
A vast amount of ink has been spilled in both the physics and the philosophy literature on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. Important as it is, this problem is but one aspect of the more general issue of how, if at all, classical properties can emerge from the quantum descriptions of physical systems. In this paper we will study another aspect of the more general issue-the emergence of classical chaos-which has been receiving increasing attention from physicists but which has (...) largely been neglected by philosophers of science. (shrink)
Recently Carolyn Brighouse and Jeremy Butterfield have argued that David Lewis's counterpart theory makes it possible both to believe in the reality of spacetime points and to consider general relativity to be a deterministic theory, thus avoiding the ‘hole argument’ of John Earman and John Norton. Butterfield's argument relies on Lewis's own counterpart-theoretic analysis of determinism. In this paper, I argue that this analysis is inadequate. This leaves a gap in the Butterfield–Brighouse defence against the hole argument.
There are many parts of science in which a certain sort of underdetermination of theory by evidence is known to be common. It is argued that reflection on this fact should serve to shift the burden of proof from scientific anti-realists to scientific realists at a crucial point in the debate between them.
Two symmetry arguments are discussed, each purporting to show that there is no more room for a preferred division of spacetime into instants of time in general relativistic cosmology than in Minkowski spacetime. The first argument is due to Gödel, and concerns the symmetries of his famous rotating cosmologies. The second turns upon the symmetries of a certain space of relativistic possibilities. Both arguments are found wanting.
There is a widespread impression that General Relativity, unlike Quantum Mechanics, is in no need of an interpretation. I present two reasons for thinking that this is a mistake. The first is the familiar hole argument. I argue that certain skeptical responses to this argument are too hasty in dismissing it as being irrelevant to the interpretative enterprise. My second reason is that interpretative questions about General Relativity are central to the search for a quantum theory of gravity. I illustrate (...) this claim by examining the interpretative consequences of a particular technical move in canonical quantum gravity. (shrink)
These notes discuss some aspects of the sort of symmetry considerations that arise in philosophy of physics. They describe and provide illustration of: (i) one common sort of symmetry argument; and (ii) a construction that allows one to eliminate symmetries from a given structure.
An elementary notion of gauge equivalence is introduced that does not require any Lagrangian or Hamiltonian apparatus. It is shown that in the special case of theories, such as general relativity, whose symmetries can be identiﬁed with spacetime diffeomorphisms this elementary notion has many of the same features as the usual notion. In particular, it performs well in the presence of asymptotic boundary conditions.
Schervish (1985b) showed that every forecasting system is noncalibrated for uncountably many data sequences that it might see. This result is strengthened here: from a topological point of view, failure of calibration is typical and calibration rare. Meanwhile, Bayesian forecasters are certain that they are calibrated---this invites worries about the connection between Bayesianism and rationality.
ABSTRACTA popular strategy for understanding the probabilities that arise in physics is to interpret them via reductionist accounts of chance—indeed, it is sometimes claimed that such accounts are uniquely well-suited to make sense of the probabilities in classical statistical mechanics. Here it is argued that reductionist accounts of chance carry a steep but unappreciated cost: when applied to physical theories of the relevant type, they inevitably distort the relations of probability that they take as input.
Bayesians often assume, suppose, or conjecture that for any reasonable explication of the notion of simplicity a prior can be designed that will enforce a preference for hypotheses simpler in just that sense. But it is shown here that there are simplicity-driven approaches to curve-fitting problems that cannot be captured within the orthodox Bayesian framework.
I present an underdetermination argument that targets a certain strong form of scientific objectivity rather than scientific realism---and argue that the considerations raised should nonetheless unsettle scientific realists.