Tag Archives: philosophy of physics

22nd Annual (2015) Kent State Philosophy Graduate Student Conference In Remembrance of May 4th (Part II)

The paper I presented at Kent State University’s Graduate Philosophy Conference can be found by clicking here.  The paper is a reworking of a paper I wrote during Jordi Cat’s philosophy of time seminar in the fall of 2013.  By “reworking,” I mean that the paper was truncated from its current monographic length of 68 pages, and then reorganized, many of the citations and resources extracted, and, finally, given an ad hoc introduction and conclusion.  I chose to eliminate many of the references to the literature because, like so many of the works a philosopher of science that are too technical and specialized for the general philosophical audience, I felt it would be too much for the randomly chosen philosopher —especially a graduate student— to get without extensive reading (or without more space to discuss the ideas).  Therefore, McTaggart, Sider, Craig Bourne, Earman, and other authors were not referenced in the presented version of the work.  Continue reading

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Filed under History and Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, Metaphysics, Philosophy

Distinguishing between Types of Science: Unmixing Metaphysics and Pragmatic Science

I get questions regularly about the bizarre nature of contemporary physics.  I am sure practicing physicists with PhDs get these more regularly than I, yet I occupy an interesting and rare position in the academic disciplinary landscape: I’ve studied science, particularly physics, into the graduate level, and I am actively developing my expertise in the history and philosophy of science, particularly physics, as well as being a lifelong student of more traditional philosophy (e.g., analytic, contemporary, and Eastern).  The question most regularly asked of late has been: What are physicists talking about with all of this “non-verifiable” theory; it sounds like philosophy?  By this, they mean the fact that there is this apparent post-empirical turn, and the lack of requirement of empirical data to substantiate proposed theory.  I’d like to spend some length explaining my thoughts on this, including a suggestion to all practicing scientists, regardless of discipline.

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Filed under Cosmology, Epistemology, History and Philosophy of Science, History of Physics, History of Science, Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Physics, Popular Science, Science

Examining and Thinking Through “The Simplest Possible Universe”: Part II

This is the second in a series of blog posts about a work done by Dr. David Lee Cale, professor at West Virginia University.  Cale, a polymath, is chiefly a philosopher, trained in physics, political science, mathematics, economics, and numerous other disciplines, holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, an M.B.A., a B.A. in political science, and is ABD in economics, and is a notable ethicist.  The work of his being examined is “The Simplest Possible Universe,” a monograph that synthesizes ancient Greek and Scholastic styles of thinking with modern physical insight.  The work is striking, in that its brand of creativity is not common in modern intellectual enterprises.  Retaining the good sense and substance of modern physics, Cale employs modes of thinking that are on loan from times nearly forgotten.  The objective of this blog series is to deconstruct the monograph, examine its components, and assess the merits of each, redoubting where possible.  At the end, if efficacious, an attempt at resynthesis of the project, consequent upon the conceptual retooling, will be made.  Continue reading

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Filed under Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Pure Philosophy

Examining and Thinking Through “The Simplest Possible Universe”

This is the first in a series of blog posts about a work done by Dr. David Lee Cale, professor at West Virginia University.  Cale, a polymath, is chiefly a philosopher, trained in physics, political science, mathematics, economics, and numerous other disciplines, holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, an M.B.A., a B.A. in political science, and is ABD in economics, and is a notable ethicist.  The work of his being examined is “The Simplest Possible Universe,” a monograph that synthesizes ancient Greek and Scholastic styles of thinking with modern physical insight.  The work is striking, in that its brand of creativity is not common in modern intellectual enterprises.  Retaining the good sense and substance of modern physics, Cale employs modes of thinking that are on loan from times nearly forgotten.  The objective of this blog series is to deconstruct the monograph, examine its components, and assess the merits of each, redoubting where possible.  At the end, if efficacious, an attempt at resynthesis of the project, consequent upon the conceptual retooling, will be made.  Continue reading

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Filed under Kantian Philosophy, Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Pure Philosophy

My Journey from Physics to the History and Philosophy of Science (a.k.a. HPS)

Recently, at a reception for the incoming grad students of IU Bloomington’s HPS Department, I was faced with a question, but it was a more specific question than had previously been posed to me.  Typically, I am asked, “How did you move from physics into philosophy of physics?”  The question my host, Dr. Sandy Gliboff asked me, with the hint of a smirk and a sense of humor, “What made you decide to go into HPS, rather than be a real scientist?”  I gave him my answer to the former question, which I will give presently; but I did not give him the answer to his question.  Given that so many people ask so regularly, and given that there are so few physicists that go into philosophy, I will take this time to answer publically; and so I begin with the answer to the former. Continue reading

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The Impossibility of Precisely Measuring Positions of Particles in Quantum Physics

I am not going to go too hard on him, James S. Trefil, because he is such a fine author and I enjoy his work; but I must address an error that this physicist makes in one of his books, From Atoms to Quarks: An Introduction to the Strange World of Particle Physics (1980).  (See my review of the book by clicking on this sentence.)  I have chosen Trefil’s error for discussion, because he is a fine physicist, which makes for a good mark in proving a point, namely, that physics needs philosophy of physics to mind a number of problems that are not central to advancement of the science.  These problems include the kind of conceptual one that will be mentioned —one that I hope other physicists do not err on— and conceptual problems in foundations, metaphysics, and so forth. Continue reading

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Filed under Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Physics, Popular Science