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)
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)
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)
In this sequence of philosophical essays about natural science, the author argues that fundamental explanatory laws, the deepest and most admired successes of modern physics, do not in fact describe regularities that exist in nature. Cartwright draws from many real-life examples to propound a novel distinction: that theoretical entities, and the complex and localized laws that describe them, can be interpreted realistically, but the simple unifying laws of basic theory cannot.
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.”.
The Physical Intentionality Thesis claims that dispositions share the marks of psychological intentionality; therefore, intentionality is not exclusively a mental phenomenon. Beyond the standard five marks, Alexander Bird introduces two additional marks of intentionality that he argues dispositions do not satisfy: first, thoughts are extrinsic; second, the direction of causation is that objects cause thoughts, not vice versa. In response, this paper identifies two relevant conceptions of extrinsicness, arguing that dispositions show deep parallels to thoughts on both conceptions. Then, it (...) shows that Bird’s discussion of direction of causation overlooks complexities of dispositionality and intentionality that problematize apparent differences between thoughts and dispositions. The paper ends with a discussion of why we find these parallels between thoughts and dispositions. (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 dispositional monist believes that all properties are essentially causal. Recently, an overdetermination argument has been proposed by Trenton Merricks to support nihilism about ordinary objects. I argue that this argument can be extended to target both nihilism about ordinary objects and nihilism about physical particles when dispositional monism is assumed. It implies that a philosopher who both endorses dispositional monism and takes seriously the overdetermination argument should not believe in the existence of physical particles. I end up by discussing (...) possible objections. I suggest, then, that if we live in a world that is inhabited by causal properties but not by chairs and tables, then we also live in a world without electrons and quarks, a world of dispositional properties, that is, a world of causal fields. (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)
This paper defends wave function realism against the charge that the view is empirically incoherent because our evidence for quantum theory involves facts about objects in three-dimensional space or space-time . It also criticizes previous attempts to defend wave function realism against this charge by claiming that the wave function is capable of grounding local beables as elements of a derivative ontology.
This book, published in 2000, is a clear account of causation based firmly in contemporary science. Dowe discusses in a systematic way, a positive account of causation: the conserved quantities account of causal processes which he has been developing over the last ten years. The book describes causal processes and interactions in terms of conserved quantities: a causal process is the worldline of an object which possesses a conserved quantity, and a causal interaction involves the exchange of conserved quantities. Further, (...) things that are properly called cause and effect are appropriately connected by a set of causal processes and interactions. The distinction between cause and effect is explained in terms of a version of the fork theory: the direction of a certain kind of ordered pattern of events in the world. This particular version has the virtue that it allows for the possibility of backwards causation, and therefore time travel. (shrink)
Steven French and Decio Krause examine the metaphysical foundations of quantum physics. They draw together historical, logical, and philosophical perspectives on the fundamental nature of quantum particles and offer new insights on a range of important issues. Focusing on the concepts of identity and individuality, the authors explore two alternative metaphysical views; according to one, quantum particles are no different from books, tables, and people in this respect; according to the other, they most certainly are. Each view comes with (...) certain costs attached and after describing their origins in the history of quantum theory, the authors carefully consider whether these costs are worth bearing. Recent contributions to these discussions are analyzed in detail and the authors present their own original perspective on the issues. The final chapter suggests how this perspective can be taken forward in the context of quantum field theory. (shrink)
Neuroscientists are searching for the engram within the conceptual framework established by John Locke's theory of mind. This framework was elaborated before the development of information theory, before the development of information processing machines and the science of computation, before the discovery that molecules carry hereditary information, before the discovery of the codon code and the molecular machinery for editing the messages written in this code and translating it into transcription factors that mark abstract features of organic structure such as (...) anterior and distal. The search for the engram needs to abandon Locke's conceptual framework and work within a framework informed by these developments. The engram is the medium by which information extracted from past experience is transmitted to the computations that inform future behavior. The information-conveying symbols in the engram are rapidly generated in the course of computations, which implies that they are molecules. (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.
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)
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 authors aim to reinstate a spirit of philosophical enquiry in physics. They abandon the intuitive continuum concepts and build up constructively a combinatorial mathematics of process. This radical change alone makes it possible to calculate the coupling constants of the fundamental fields which? via high energy scattering? are the bridge from the combinatorial world into dynamics. The untenable distinction between what is?observed?, or measured, and what is not, upon which current quantum theory is based, is not needed. If (...) we are to speak of mind, this has to be present? albeit in primitive form? at the most basic level, and not to be dragged in at one arbitrary point to avoid the difficulties about quantum observation. There is a growing literature on information-theoretic models for physics, but hitherto the two disciplines have gone in parallel. In this book they interact vitally. (shrink)
According to logical positivism, so the story goes, metaphysical questions are meaningless, since they do not admit of empirical confirmation or refutation. However, the logical positivists did not in fact reject as meaningless all questions about for example, the structure of space and time. Rather, key figures such as Reichenbach and Schlick believed that scientific theories often presupposed a conceptual framework that was not itself empirically testable, but which was required for the theory as a whole to be empirically testable. (...) For example, the theory of Special Relativity relies upon the simultaneity convention introduced by Einstein that assumes that the one-way speed of light is the same in all directions of space. Hence, the logical positivists accepted an a priori component to physical theories. However, they denied that this a priori component is necessarily true. Whereas for Kant, metaphysics is the a priori science of the necessary structure of rational thought about reality, the logical positivists were forced by the history of science to accept that the a priori structure of theories could change. Hence, they defended a notion of what Michael Friedman calls the ‘relativised’ or the ‘constitutive’ a priori. Carnap and Reichenbach held that such an a priori framework was conventional, whereas Schlick seems to have been more of a realist and held that the overall relative simplicity of different theories could count as evidence for their truth, notwithstanding the fact that some parts of them are not directly testable. All this is part of the story of how the verification principle came to be abandoned, and how logical positivism transmuted into logical empiricism. (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 goal of this essay is twofold. First, it provides a quick look at the foundations of modern relational mechanics by tracing its development from Julian Barbour and Bruno Bertotti's original ideas until present-day's pure shape dynamics. Secondly, it discusses the most appropriate metaphysics for pure shape dynamics, showing that relationalism is more of a nuanced thesis rather than an elusive one. The chapter ends with a brief assessment of the prospects of pure shape dynamics in light of quantum (...) class='Hi'>physics. (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.
This book explores whether physics points to a reductive or an emergent structure of the world and proposes a physics-motivated conception of emergence that leaves behind many of the problematic intuitions shaping the philosophical conceptions. Examining several detailed case studies reveals results that point to stability conditions playing a crucial though underappreciated role in the physics of emergence. This contextual emergence has thought-provoking consequences for physics and beyond.
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)
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)
After a quarter of a century in print, Capra's groundbreaking work still challenges and inspires. This updated edition of The Tao of Physics includes a new preface and afterword in which the author reviews the developments of the twenty-five years since the book's first publication, discusses criticisms the book has received, and examines future possibilities for a new scientific world.
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.
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)
This paper documents a wide range of nonreductive scientific treatments of phenomena in the domain of physics. These treatments strongly resist characterization as explanations of macrobehavior exclusively in terms of behavior of microconstituents. For they are treatments in which macroquantities are cast in the role of genuine and irreducible degrees of freedom. One is driven into reductionism when one is not cultivated to possess an array of distinctions rich enough to let things be what they are. In contrast, making (...) the decisive distinction has an illuminating and liberating effect because it lets the concrete occurrence stand forth for what it is. We understand it not in terms of a decipherment, but on its own terms. –Robert Sokolowski (“Making Distinctions”, 1992). (shrink)
Highlighting main issues and controversies, this book brings together current philosophical discussions of symmetry in physics to provide an introduction to the subject for physicists and philosophers. The contributors cover all the fundamental symmetries of modern physics, such as CPT and permutation symmetry, as well as discussing symmetry-breaking and general interpretational issues. Classic texts are followed by new review articles and shorter commentaries for each topic. Suitable for courses on the foundations of physics, philosophy of physics (...) and philosophy of science, the volume is a valuable reference for students and researchers. (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)
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.
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)
Physics, History, and the German Atomic Bomb. This paper examines the German concept of a nuclear weapon during National Socialism and the Second World War. Zusammenfassung: Physik, Geschichte und die deutsche Atombombe. Dieser Aufsatz untersucht die deutsche Vorstellung einer nuklearen Waffe während des Nationalsozialismus und des Zweiten Weltkrieges.
Much has been written on the role of causal notions and causal reasoning in the so-called 'special sciences' and in common sense. But does causal reasoning also play a role in physics? Mathias Frisch argues that, contrary to what influential philosophical arguments purport to show, the answer is yes. Time-asymmetric causal structures are as integral a part of the representational toolkit of physics as a theory's dynamical equations. Frisch develops his argument partly through a critique of anti-causal arguments (...) and partly through a detailed examination of actual examples of causal notions in physics, including causal principles invoked in linear response theory and in representations of radiation phenomena. Offering a new perspective on the nature of scientific theories and causal reasoning, this book will be of interest to professional philosophers, graduate students, and anyone interested in the role of causal thinking in science. (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.
Recent advances in the field of quantum cognition suggest a puzzling connection between fundamental physics and the mind. Many researchers see quantum ideas and formalisms merely as useful pragmatic tools, and do not look for deeper underlying explanations for why they work. However, others are tempted to seek for an intelligible explanation for why quantum ideas work to model cognition. This paper first draws attention to how the physicist David Bohm already in 1951 suggested that thought and quantum processes (...) are analogous, adding that this could be explained if some neural processes underlying thought involved non-negligible quantum effects. The paper next points out that the idea that there is a connection between fundamental physics and the mind is not unique to quantum theory, but was there already when Newtonian physics was assumed to be fundamental physics, advocated most notably by Kant. Kant emphasized the unique intelligibility of a Newtonian notion of experience, and this historical background prompts us to ask in the final part of the paper whether we can really make sense of any quantum-like experience. It is proposed that intelligibility is a relative notion and that, regardless of initial difficulties, quantum approaches to cognition and consciousness are likely to provide valuable new ways of understanding the mind. (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)
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)
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.