Eternalism is the view that all times are equally real. The relativity of simultaneity in special relativity backs this up. There is no cosmically extended, self-existing ‘now.’ This leads to a tricky problem. What makes statements about the present true? I shall approach the problem along the lines of perspectival realism and argue that the choice of the perspective does. To corroborate this point, the Lorentz transformations of special relativity are compared to the structurally similar equations of the Doppler effect. (...) The ‘now’ is perspectivally real in the same way as a particular electromagnetic spectrum frequency. I also argue that the ontology of time licensed by perspectival realism is more credible in this context than its current alternative, the fragmentalist interpretation of special relativity. (shrink)
Eternalism is the view that the past, the present and the future exist simpliciter. A typical argument in favor of this view leans on the relativity of simultaneity. The ‘equally real with’ relation is assumed to be transitive between spacelike separated events connected by hyperplanes of simultaneity. This reasoning is in tension with the conventionality of simultaneity. Conventionality indicates that, even within a specific frame, simultaneity is based on the choice of the synchronization parameter. Hence the argument for eternalism is (...) compromised. This paper lays out alternative eternalist strategies which do not hinge on hyperplanes. While we lack a rigorous proof for eternalism, there are still cogent reasons to prefer eternalism over presentism. (shrink)
For the last forty years, Hume's Newtonianism has been a debated topic in Hume scholarship. The crux of the matter can be formulated by the following question: Is Hume a Newtonian philosopher? Debates concerning this question have produced two lines of interpretation. I shall call them ‘traditional’ and ‘critical’ interpretations. The traditional interpretation asserts that there are many Newtonian elements in Hume, whereas the critical interpretation seriously questions this. In this article, I consider the main points made by both lines (...) of interpretations and offer further arguments that contribute to this debate. I shall first argue, in favor of the traditional interpretation, that Hume is sympathetic to many prominently Newtonian themes in natural philosophy such as experimentalism, criticality of hypotheses, inductive proof, and criticality of Leibnizian principles of sufficient reason and intelligibility. Second, I shall argue, in accordance with the critical interpretation, that in many cases Hume... (shrink)
According to a widespread view, Einstein’s definition of time in his special relativity is founded on the positivist verification principle. The present paper challenges this received outlook. It shall be argued that Einstein’s position on the concept of time, to wit, simultaneity, is best understood as a mitigated version of concept empiricism. He contrasts his position to Newton’s absolutist and Kant’s transcendental arguments, and in part sides with Hume’s and Mach’s empiricist arguments. Nevertheless, Einstein worked out a concept empiricism that (...) is considerably more moderate than what we find in the preceding empiricist tradition and early logical positivism. He did not think that the origin of concepts is in observations, but in conventions, and he also maintained a realist ontology of physical events, which he thought is necessary for his theory. Consequently, his philosophy of time in special relativity is not couched in terms of an anti-metaphysical verificationism. (shrink)
This book contextualizes David Hume's philosophy of physical science, exploring both Hume's background in the history of early modern natural philosophy and its subsequent impact on the scientific tradition.
The topic of this book is vast. The author Heather Dyke has less than 80 pages to expound on the nature of time. Her starting point is the distinction between the common-sense and the scientific conception of time. The former includes two points: a special present moment and the understanding that time is dynamic. The latter eschews both points.
McTaggart famously introduced the A- and B-series as rival metaphysical accounts of time. This paper shall reorient the debate over the original distinction. Instead of treating the series as competing theories about the nature of time, it will be argued that they are different viewpoints on a world that is fundamentally physical. To that end, non-reductive physicalism is proposed to reconcile the series.
Einstein acknowledged that his reading of Hume influenced the development of his special theory of relativity. In this article, I juxtapose Hume’s philosophy with Einstein’s philosophical analysis related to his special relativity. I argue that there are two common points to be found in their writings, namely an empiricist theory of ideas and concepts, and a relationist ontology regarding space and time. The main thesis of this article is that these two points are intertwined in Hume and Einstein.
This article investigates the relationship between Hume’s causal philosophy and Newton ’s philosophy of nature. I claim that Newton ’s experimentalist methodology in gravity research is an important background for understanding Hume’s conception of causality: Hume sees the relation of cause and effect as not being founded on a priori reasoning, similar to the way that Newton criticized non - empirical hypotheses about the properties of gravity. However, according to Hume’s criteria of causal inference, the law of universal gravitation is (...) not a complete causal law, since it does not include a reference either to contiguity or to temporal priority. It is still argued that because of the empirical success of Newton ’s theory—the law is a statement of an exceptionless repetition—Hume gives his support to it in interpreting gravity force instrumentally as if it bore a causal relation to motion. (shrink)
Although the main focus of Hume’s career was in the humanities, his work also has an observable role in the historical development of natural sciences after his time. To show this, I shall center on the relation between Hume and two major ﬁgures in the history of the natural sciences: Charles Darwin (1809–1882) and Albert Einstein (1879–1955). Both of these scientists read Hume. They also found parts of Hume’s work useful to their sciences. Inquiring into the relations between Hume and (...) the two scientists shows that his philosophical positions had a partial but constructive role in the formation of modern biology and physics. This is accordingly a clear indication of Hume’s impact on the scientiﬁc tradition. Before proceeding to analyze Hume’s contribution to the history of science, it is important to address his broader role in the history of philosophy of science. Hume’s discussions concerning the topics of causation, induction, the distinction between mathematical and empirical propositions, and laws of nature have been important for the philosophy of science of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. (shrink)
Given the sharp distinction that follows from Hume’s Fork, the proper epistemic status of propositions of mixed mathematics seems to be a mystery. On the one hand, mathematical propositions concern the relation of ideas. They are intuitive and demonstratively certain. On the other hand, propositions of mixed mathematics, such as in Hume’s own example, the law of conservation of momentum, are also matter of fact propositions. They concern causal relations between species of objects, and, in this sense, they are not (...) intuitive or demonstratively certain, but probable or provable. In this article, I argue that the epistemic status of propositions of mixed mathematics is that of matters of fact. I wish to show that their epistemic status is not a mystery. The reason for this is that the propositions of mixed mathematics are dependent on the Uniformity Principle, unlike the propositions of pure mathematics. (shrink)
This essay explores Kaila's interpretation of the special theory of relativity. Although the relevance of his work to logical empiricism is well-known, not much has been written on what Kaila calls the ‘Einstein-Minkowski invariance theory’. Kaila's interpretation focuses on two salient features. First, he emphasizes the importance of the invariance of the spacetime interval. The general point about spacetime invariance has been known at least since Minkowski, yet Kaila applies his overall tripartite theory of invariances to space, time and spacetime (...) in an original way. Second, Kaila provides a non-conventionalist argument for the isotropic speed of electromagnetic signals. The standard Einstein synchrony is not a mere convention but a part of a larger empirical theory. According to Kaila's holistic principle of testability, which stands in contrast to the theses of translatability and verification, different items in the theory cannot be sharply divided into conventional and empirical. Kaila's invariantism/non-conventionalism about relativity reflects an interesting case in the gradual transition from positivism to realism within the philosophy of science. (shrink)
I shall argue that when Hume refers to the laws of dynamics, he tacitly assumes a mechanism. Nevertheless, he remains agnostic on whether the hidden micro-constitution of bodies is machinelike. Hence this article comes to the following conclusion. Hume is not a full-blown mechanical philosopher. Still his position on dynamic laws and his concept of causation instantiate a tacitly mechanical understanding of the interactions of bodies.
Artikkelissa puolustetaan syy-seuraussuhteen ajallista yksisuuntaisuutta. Positiivinen argumentti perustuu ajanluontoisten tapahtumien ennen–jälkeen-suhteen pysyvyyteen. Olennaiset vastaväitteet, jotka perustuvat samanaikaiseen kausaliteettiin, antikausaaliseen fysiikan filosofiaan ja luonnonlakien symmetrisyyteen, otetaan huomioon. Johtopäätöksenä todetaan, että malliesimerkit kausaliteetista ilmentävät syyn ja seurauksen epäsymmetriaa. Syy alkaa ennen sen seurausta, vaikka ne ovat osittain samanaikaisia.
If you were to list the perennial issues in philosophy, the nature of time would no doubt be on that list. The essays in the present volume all touch upon the problem of time. The volume includes four contributions from different perspectives within the history of philosophy of time.Jani Hakkarainen and Todd Ryan delve into David Hume's account of time. Hume thinks there can be no time without succession. Consequently, unchanging, steadfast objects do not have a duration. They are stationary, (...) not subject to any change. Although they lack a duration, they coexist with a temporal succession. This introduces a problem: What is the relation between unchanging objects and time? Hakkarainen and Ryan draw on what they call Hume's Principle of Quantitative Comparison. Each indivisible temporal extent is equal to any other temporal extent; differences in duration are due to the different number of temporal parts. Steadfast objects may be thought to undergo a certain number of calculable changes when they are compared to ordinary successions we experience. This experience is provided, for example, by the ticking of a clock. We have the capacity to think that steadfast objects have precise durations. We humans nevertheless cannot give any deep explanation as how we come to this conclusion.Emily Thomas focuses on the graphic representation of time. Whereas the visual representation of time has typically been done with matrices or grids, Joseph Priestley represented time in a line in 1765. Priestley's line divides time “by an equal scale” into centuries. Many have interpreted this as being evidence of a Newtonian influence, as if there is an absolute time flowing equably. Thomas situates Priestley's position in the modern debates on the nature of our ideas. She argues that the absolutist reading does not have merit. Thomas thinks rather that Priestley sides with David Hartley, who explained how we acquire the ideas of duration and time from sensation. Thomas's essay advances our understanding of the history of space-time parallelism. With timelines, the analogy between time and space becomes a possibility. In my essay I assess Ernst Mach's criticism of Isaac Newton's substantivalist account of time. Newton's argument for absolute time relates to his mathematical-empirical physics and theology. In his Science of Mechanics, Mach largely neglects the laws of motion, calculus and the omnipresence theology that is at the background of Newton's concept of time. Mach did however criticize Newton's absolutist argument on the basis that the self-existing flow cannot be observed, measured, or experimented with, and he provided an alternative relational account of time. I point out that this was not only extreme positivism or phenomenalism, but an epistemology and ontology suited for the subsequent physical theories of relativity. Finally, I argue that Mach's denial of the independent atomic structure of matter should not be entirely assimilated to his denial of substantivalism about time. The two phenomena are different, so we should evaluate Mach's reasoning concerning them accordingly. Matyáš Moravec and Peter West go through Susan Stebbing's criticism of Arthur Eddington's popular account of the passage of time. Stebbing's target, Moravec and West argue, is Eddington's largely Bergsonian view on time. She objects to the view that our minds have “a private door” to the physical reality which no measurements can disclose. Stebbing believes that our experience of the passage of time belongs to our ordinary, every-day experience, and she thinks Eddington mystifies the whole idea by leaning on a peculiar form of introspection. Moravec and West build a case for Bergson's influence on Eddington, arguing that Bergson probably did contribute to Eddington's idea of “the intuition of becoming.” Both seem to think that we may access the dynamic temporal reality in ways not captured by scientific investigation, by means of an introspective internal experience of duration. As a final remark, I think I should note, with regret, that out of the six authors in this volume only one is a woman. Let the reader know that as an editor I tried to strike a better balance. I still trust that the quality of the articles is high, and most importantly, worthwhile for readers interested in the history of philosophy of time. (shrink)
To provide metaphysical grounds for the physics of her time, Du Châtelet argued for the notion of an active force. This was different from the impressed force in Newton’s second law. The former force was a property of a body, whereas the latter was an external cause. I shall study this discrepancy and argue that the interactive concept of force in Newton’s third law is consistent with Du Châtelet’s standards for an intelligible physics. Consequently, the interaction entailed by the law (...) of universal gravitation complies with Du Châtelet’s principles of human knowledge. (shrink)
This article centers on Hume’s position on the intelligibility of natural philosophy. To that end, the controversy surrounding universal gravitation shall be scrutinized. It is very well-known that Hume sides with the Newtonian experimentalist approach rather than with the Leibnizian demand for intelligibility. However, what is not clear is Hume’s overall position on the intelligibility of natural philosophy. It shall be argued that Hume declines Leibniz’s principle of intelligibility. However, Hume does not eschew intelligibility altogether; his concept of causation itself (...) stipulates mechanical intelligibility. (shrink)
I argue that Hume’s philosophy of time is relationist in the following two senses. 1) Standard definition of relationism. Time is a succession of indivisible moments. Hence there is no time independent of change. Time is a relational, not substantial feature of the world. 2) Rigid relationism. There is no evidence of uniform natural standard for synchronization of clocks. No absolute temporal metric is available. There are countless times, and no time is privileged. Combining 1) and 2) shows that Hume’s (...) ontology of time is thoroughly relationist. (shrink)
We may distinguish two interpretations of the relation between Newton’s natural philosophy and Hume’s science of human nature. The first interpretation can be called ‘traditional,’ the second ‘critical.’ This article will not side with either readings of Hume’s Newtonianism (or with some middle positions). Instead, essential points of confluence and divergence will be discussed.
Up till this day one cannot find much scholarship which situates Hume in the context of early modern natural philosophy. Tamás Demeter's new book, David Hume and the Culture of Scottish Newtonianism, does a spectacular job in filling this gap. His monograph is the most comprehensive pursuit to understand Hume's place in the Newtonian tradition of natural philosophy. Demeter specifies Hume's place both in the context of Newtonian moral philosophy and Newtonian chemistry and physiology.
Mach repudiated Newton's argument for absolute time. He denied there is such a thing as time itself that exists independently of any external change. In doing so, Mach failed to appreciate Newton's scientific practice. Absolute time is intrinsically related to Newton's laws of motion and the method of fluxions. Commentators have noted similarities between Mach's rejection of Newtonian time and his rejection of the independent existence of atoms. In this article, it shall be argued that the juxtaposition of absolute time (...) and the atomic theory is unsound. Mach had good reasons to question the existence of substantial time, and he went on to provide an alternative, ontologically relational account. Whereas his dismissal of atoms can be seen as a questionable form of “phenomenalism” or “positivism,” this is not the case regarding his position on time. (shrink)
Carlo Rovelli’s new book covers a plethora of different perspectives on time. Included are scientific, philosophical, mundane, historical and cultural viewpoints. The Order of Time is written in an enthusiastic, lively manner. Rovelli wrote the original version in Italian, and it was translated to English by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre.
Hsueh M. Qu's research book begins with two central problems in Hume scholarship: (1) What is the relation between scepticism and naturalism? (2) What is the relation between the first book of the Treatise (THN) and the first Enquiry (EHU)? His premise is that by answering the second question, the first question will be answered as well.
The subject of this essay-based dissertation is Hume’s natural philosophy. The dissertation consists of four separate essays and an introduction. These essays do not only treat Hume’s views on the topic of natural philosophy, but his views are placed into a broader context of history of philosophy and science, physics in particular. The introductory section outlines the historical context, shows how the individual essays are connected, expounds what kind of research methodology has been used, and encapsulates the research contributions of (...) the essays. The first essay treats Newton’s experimentalist methodology in gravity research and its relation to Hume’s causal philosophy. It is argued that Hume does not see the relation of cause and effect as being founded on a priori reasoning, similar to the way in which Newton criticized non-empirical hypotheses about the causal properties of gravity. Contrary to Hume’s rules of causation, the universal law does not include a reference either to contiguity or succession, but Hume accepts it in interpreting the force and the law of gravity instrumentally. The second article considers Newtonian and non-Newtonian elements in Hume more broadly. He is sympathetic to many prominently Newtonian themes in natural philosophy, such as experimentalism, critique of hypotheses, inductive proof, and the critique of Leibnizian principles of sufficient reason and intelligibility. However, Hume is not a Newtonian philosopher in many respects: his conceptions regarding space and time, the vacuum, the specifics of causation, the status of mechanism, and the reality of forces differ markedly from Newton’s related conceptions. The third article focuses on Hume’s Fork and the proper epistemic status of propositions of mixed mathematics. It is shown that the epistemic status of propositions of mixed mathematics, such as those concerning laws of nature, is that of matters of fact. The reason for this is that the propositions of mixed mathematics are dependent on the Uniformity Principle. The fourth article analyzes Einstein’s acknowledgement of Hume regarding special relativity. The views of the scientist and the philosopher are juxtaposed, and it is argued that there are two common points to be found in their writings, namely an empiricist theory of ideas and concepts and a relationist ontology regarding space and time. (shrink)
This book defends a relational theory of the passage of time. The realist view of passage developed in this book differs from the robust, substantivalist position. According to relationism, passage is nothing over and above the succession of events, one thing coming after another. Causally related events are temporally arranged as they happen one after another along observers’ worldlines. There is no unique global passage but a multiplicity of local passages of time. After setting out this positive argument for relationism, (...) the author deals with five common objections to it: (a) triviality of deflationary passage, (b) a-directionality of passage, (c) the impossibility of experiencing passage, (d) fictionalism about passage, and (e) the incompatibility of passage with perduring objects. (shrink)
David Landy starts his book by delineating the received view of David Hume’s position on scientific explanation. He thinks that many still hold the view, thanks to the program of logical positivism and empiricism, that Hume subscribes to the Deductive-Nomological (DN) account of scientific explanation. Then he assimilates the DN account with Graciela De Pierris’ Newton-inspired inductivist reading. Landy has some sympathies toward the New Humean reading about explanation. The unobservable reality of causal powers and forces is productive to the (...) manifest phenomena. Landy clarifies that he disagrees with the New Humeans, because he accepts knowledge about the “descriptive content of such substances.” Accordingly, a central claim of his book is “that Hume’s view occupies a middle ground on the spectrum between De Pierris’s “inductivist” interpretation of him and that of the New Humeans. (shrink)