I defend the interpretation of the Aharonov-Bohm effect originally advanced by Aharonov and Bohm, i.e., that it is caused by an interaction between the electron and the vector potential. The defense depends on taking the fiber bundle formulation of electrodynamics literally, or almost literally.
This paper is a discussion of David Albert's approach to the foundations of classical statistical menchanics. I point out a respect in which his account makes a stronger claim about the statistical mechanical probabilities than is usually made, and I suggest what might be motivation for this. I outline a less radical approach, which I attribute to Boltzmann, and I give some reasons for thinking that this approach is all we need, and also the most we are likely to get. (...) The issue between the two accounts turns out to be one about the explanatory role probabilities play in statistical mechanics. (shrink)
Constructive Empiricism, the view introduced in The Scientific Image, is a view of science, an answer to the question “what is science?” Arthur Fine’s and Paul Teller’s contributions to this symposium challenge especially two key ideas required to formu- late that view, namely the observable/unobservable and accept- ance/belief distinctions. I wish to thank them not only for their insightful critique but also for the support they include. For they illuminate and counter some misunderstandings of Constructive Empiricism along the way. That (...) leaves me free to focus on those two main challenges. The three of us share a good deal of common history. So it is perhaps only remarkable, and not astonishing, that we now share a common leaning to Pragmatism in philosophy. Of us three I am clearly themost conservative in this respect, especially as pertaining to truth, reference, and belief.2 Arthur Fine showed very nicely how Constructive Empiricism could have been conceived under the canopy of Dewey’s Instrumentalism. Much of it could appear as a Corollary to that sort of Instrumentalism, I agree. But in fact Iwould not be happy to land in that general Pragmatist position. (shrink)
I argue that one good reason for Scientific Realists to be interested in correspondence theories is the hope they offer us of being able to state and defend realistic theses in the face of well-known difficulties about modern physics: such theses as, that our theories are approximately true, or that they will tend to approach the truth. I go on to claim that this hope is unlikely to be fulfilled. I suggest that Realism can still survive in the face of (...) these difficulties, as a claim about the kind of theories we want to aim for. I relate this conception of Realism to various contemporary discussions, both by realists and antirealists. (shrink)
In their paper "Why Gibbs Phase Averages Work--The Role of Ergodic Theory" (1980), David Malament and Sandy Zabell attempt to explain why phase averaging over the microcanonical ensemble gives correct predictions for the values of thermodynamic observables, for an ergodic system at equilibrium. Their idea is to bypass the traditional use of limit theorems, by relying on a uniqueness result about the microcanonical measure--namely, that it is uniquely stationary translation-continuous. I argue that their explanation begs questions about the relationship between (...) thermodynamic equilibrium and statistical equilibrium; I argue in addition that any account which supports their view of the relationship between these two notions of equilibrium will likely use the limit theorems in traditional ways, and thereby bypass the explanation they offer. (shrink)
I argue that Earman and Norton's familiar "hole argument" raises questions as to whether GTR is a deterministic theory only given a certain assumption about determinism: namely, that to ask whether a theory is deterministic is to ask about the physical situations described by the theory. I think this is a mistake: whether a theory is deterministic is a question about what sentences can be proved within the theory. I show what these sentences look like: for interesting theories, a harmless (...) bit of infinitary logic puts in an appearance. (shrink)
What are the objects of the so-called ‘propositional attitudes’ — belief, desire, and the like? One of the best-known accounts holds them to be sentences. According to this account — which I shall call the ‘linguistic theory’ — an analysis of the logical form of a sentence like John believes that the moon is roundwill see the word ‘that’ as a hidden pair of quotation marks: except for niceties of idiom, might be written John believes ‘the moon is round’. asserts (...) that a certain relation, the ‘believes’-relation, holds between John and the sentence ‘the moon is round’. (shrink)
I propose a different way of thinking about metaphysical and physical necessity: namely that the fundamental notion of necessity is what would ordinarily be called "truth in all physically possible worlds" – a notion which includes the standard physical necessities and the metaphysical ones as well; I suggest that the latter are marked off not as a stricter kind of necessity but by their epistemic status. One result of this reconceptualization is that the Descartes-Kripke argument against naturalism need no longer (...) trouble us. I end by relating the difference between my view and the standard view to the question, whether there could have been a different world than ours. (shrink)
David Malament has recently responded to David Albert's argument that classical electrodynamics is not time-reversal invariant by introducing a novel conception of time reversal, which supports the conventional view that under time reversal the magnetic field changes sign but the electric field remains unchanged. I will argue here that Malament's transformation has both passive and active versions. I will claim that the passive version is not relevant to Albert's argument, and the active version does not lead to the conventional transformation.
This paper investigates the possibility of extending the likelihood treatment of support to situations in which the evidence and the hypotheses supported by the evidence are all outcomes of a chance process. An example is when we ask how much support the observed sequence of heads and tails gives to the hypothesis that the next toss will be a head. I begin by discussing Sober’s approach to a problem of this type: that of estimating how much support the observation that (...) I have a mind gives to the hypothesis that you do. I criticize his approach, and offer a general solution to the problem. (shrink)
"The Personal is Political": This was an often-heard slogan of feminist groups in the late sixties and early seventies. The slogan is no doubt open to many interpretations. There is one interpretation which touches on the epistemology of social facts, viz. the slogan claims that in assessing the features of a political system, personal experiences have privileged evidentiary value. For instancte, in the face of third person reports about political corruption, I may remain unmoved in my belief that the political (...) powers are morally upstanding, and it is only when I myself am adversely affected, that I come to change my views. There are two standard patterns of explanation of this type of belief formation: (i) We know that third-person reports may be lessreliable than first-person experiences; (ii) If the third-person reports are no less reliable than first-person experiences, we may just be dealing with a standard pattern of epistemic irrationality. However, we argue that there is also a much more surprising pattern of explanation: under certain conditions, a Bayesian argument can be proffered to the effect that it is rational to change one's beliefs in the face of personal experiences and not in the face of third-person reports, even if these experiences and reports are equally reliable. Hence, the feminist slogan (at least on one particular interpretation of it) receives unexpected support from Bayesian comers. We also show that this pattern of explanation has surprising repercussions on the question of the evidentiary value of miracles in philosophy of religion. (shrink)
I defend the idea that the fact that no system is entirely isolated can be used to explain the successful use of the microcanonical distribution in statistical mechanics. The argument turns on claims about what is needed for an adequate explanation of this fact: I argue in particular that various competing explanations do not meet reasonable conditions of adequacy, and that the most striking lacuna in Interventionism – its failure to explain the ‘arrow of time’ – is no real defect.
Suppose my utilities are representable by a set of utility assignments, each defined for atomic sentences; suppose my beliefs are representable by a set of probability assignments. Then each of my utility assignments together with each of my probability assignments will determine a utility assignment to non-atomic sentences, in a familiar way. This paper is concerned with the question, whether I am committed to all the utility assignments so constructible. Richard Jeffrey (1984) says (in effect) "no", Isaac Levi (1974) says (...) "yes". I argue for "no", and raise in passing a problem for Levi. (shrink)
Although there has been some discussion in the literature of Bas van Fraassen's modal interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, it has for the most part been concentrated on difficulties that van Fraassen's viewpoint shares with those of some other authors, including Kochen, Dieks, and Healey. van Fraassen's approach has, however, some problems of its own; in this note we want to focus on what seems to us to be one of the most serious of these. The difficulty concerns immediately repeated non-disturbing (...) measurements of the same observable on a single system. As is well known, von Neumann's Projection Postulate guarantees that such measurements will always give the same outcome; likewise, in the approaches of the “modalists” mentioned above, such ‘consilience of repeated measurements’ is in one way or another built into the formalism. By contrast, we shall argue, van Fraassen's modal interpretation neither guarantees this result nor adequately explains why it is unnecessary to do so. (shrink)