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  1. Making Best Systems Best for Us.Siegfried Jaag & Christian Loew - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    Humean reductionism about laws of nature appears to leave a central aspect of scientific practice unmotivated: If the world’s fundamental structure is exhausted by the actual distribution of non-modal properties and the laws of nature are merely efficient summaries of this distribution, then why does science posit laws that cover a wide range of non-actual circumstances? In this paper, we develop a new version of the Humean best systems account of laws based on the idea that laws need to organize (...)
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  • Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    Humeanism about laws of nature — the view that the laws reduce to the Humean mosaic — is a popular view, but currently existing versions face powerful objections. The non-supervenience objection, the non-fundamentality objection and the explanatory circularity objection have all been thought to cause problems for the Humean. However, these objections share a guiding thought — they are all based on the idea that there is a certain kind of divergence between the practice of science and the metaphysical picture (...)
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  • Humean Laws, Explanatory Circularity, and the Aim of Scientific Explanation.Chris Dorst - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (10):2657-2679.
    One of the main challenges confronting Humean accounts of natural law is that Humean laws appear to be unable to play the explanatory role of laws in scientific practice. The worry is roughly that if the laws are just regularities in the particular matters of fact (as the Humean would have it), then they cannot also explain the particular matters of fact, on pain of circularity. Loewer (2012) has defended Humeanism, arguing that this worry only arises if we fail to (...)
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  • II—L. A. Paul: Categorical Priority and Categorical Collapse.L. A. Paul - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):89-113.
    I explore some of the ways that assumptions about the nature of substance shape metaphysical debates about the structure of Reality. Assumptions about the priority of substance play a role in an argument for monism, are embedded in certain pluralist metaphysical treatments of laws of nature, and are central to discussions of substantivalism and relationalism. I will then argue that we should reject such assumptions and collapse the categorical distinction between substance and property.
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  • Realism About the Wave Function.Eddy Keming Chen - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (7).
    A century after the discovery of quantum mechanics, the meaning of quantum mechanics still remains elusive. This is largely due to the puzzling nature of the wave function, the central object in quantum mechanics. If we are realists about quantum mechanics, how should we understand the wave function? What does it represent? What is its physical meaning? Answering these questions would improve our understanding of what it means to be a realist about quantum mechanics. In this survey article, I review (...)
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  • On the Argument From Physics and General Relativity.Christopher Gregory Weaver - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-41.
    I argue that the best interpretation of the general theory of relativity (GTR) has need of a causal entity (i.e., the gravitational field), and causal structure that is not reducible to light cone structure. I suggest that this causal interpretation of GTR helps defeat a key premise in one of the most popular arguments for causal reductionism, viz., the argument from physics.
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  • Counterfactuals in the Initial Value Formulation of General Relativity.José Luis Jaramillo & Vincent Lam - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy066.
    How precisely to understand and evaluate counterfactuals can be an intricate issue. The aim of this article is to examine a new set of difficulties for evaluating counterfactuals that arise in the context of the dynamical spacetimes described by the theory of general relativity. The initial value formulation provides us with a methodology to pin down the specific combination of features of the theory at the origin of the difficulties, namely, non-linearity and certain non-local aspects, in particular when combined with (...)
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  • Simplicity in the Best Systems Account of Laws of Nature.J. Woodward - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):91-123.
    This article discusses the role of simplicity and the notion of a best balance of simplicity and strength within the best systems account (BSA) of laws of nature. The article explores whether there is anything in scientific practice that corresponds to the notion of simplicity or to the trade-off between simplicity and strength to which the BSA appeals. Various theoretical rationales for simplicity preferences and their bearing on the identification of laws are also explored. It is concluded that there are (...)
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  • Contemporary Approaches to Statistical Mechanical Probabilities: A Critical Commentary - Part II: The Regularity Approach.Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (12):1127-1136.
    This pair of articles provides a critical commentary on contemporary approaches to statistical mechanical probabilities. These articles focus on the two ways of understanding these probabilities that have received the most attention in the recent literature: the epistemic indifference approach, and the Lewis-style regularity approach. These articles describe these approaches, highlight the main points of contention, and make some attempts to advance the discussion. The second of these articles discusses the regularity approach to statistical mechanical probabilities, and describes some areas (...)
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  • La Bohume.Neil Dewar - 2016 - Synthese:1-19.
    This paper critically assesses whether quantum entanglement can be made compatible with Humean supervenience. After reviewing the prima facie tension between entanglement and Humeanism, I outline a recently-proposed Humean response, and argue that it is subject to two problems: one concerning the determinacy of quantities, and one concerning its relationship to scientific practice.
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  • Laws Are Not Descriptions.Federico Laudisa - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (3):251-270.
    The view that takes laws of nature to be essentially nothing more than descriptions of facts is still rather popular. The present article, on the contrary, defends the claim that the only real motivation for defending a descriptive view of laws—the quest for ontological parsimony—entails too high a price to pay in philosophical terms. It is argued that nomic primitivism, namely the alternative option that takes laws to be primitive fundamental entities in our ontology, is decisively more appealing, since it (...)
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  • Quantum Entanglement, Bohmian Mechanics, and Humean Supervenience.Elizabeth Miller - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):567-583.
    David Lewis is a natural target for those who believe that findings in quantum physics threaten the tenability of traditional metaphysical reductionism. Such philosophers point to allegedly holistic entities they take both to be the subjects of some claims of quantum mechanics and to be incompatible with Lewisian metaphysics. According to one popular argument, the non-separability argument from quantum entanglement, any realist interpretation of quantum theory is straightforwardly inconsistent with the reductive conviction that the complete physical state of the world (...)
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  • The Problem of Disjunctive Explanations.Brad Weslake - manuscript
    I present a problem for theories of explanation, concerning explanations involving disjunctive properties. The problem is particular acute for the explanatory non-fundamentalist, according to whom non-fundamental scientific explanations are sometimes superior to fundamental physical explanations. I criticise solutions to the problem due to Woodward, Strevens and Sober, and Lewis, and then defend a solution inspired by an account of non-fundamental laws recently defended by Callender and Cohen.
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  • Leibnizian Relationalism for General Relativistic Physics.Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics:101-107.
    An ontology of Leibnizian relationalism, consisting in distance relations among sparse matter points and their change only, is well recognized as a serious option in the context of classical mechanics. In this paper, we investigate how this ontology fares when it comes to general relativistic physics. Using a Humean strategy, we regard the gravitational field as a means to represent the overall change in the distance relations among point particles in a way that achieves the best combination of being simple (...)
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  • Quantity of Matter or Intrinsic Property: Why Mass Cannot Be Both.Mario Hubert - 2016 - In Laura Felline, Antonio Ledda, F. Paoli & Emanuele Rossanese (eds.), New Developments in Logic and Philosophy of Science. London: College Publications. pp. 267–77.
    I analyze the meaning of mass in Newtonian mechanics. First, I explain the notion of primitive ontology, which was originally introduced in the philosophy of quantum mechanics. Then I examine the two common interpretations of mass: mass as a measure of the quantity of matter and mass as a dynamical property. I claim that the former is ill-defined, and the latter is only plausible with respect to a metaphysical interpretation of laws of nature. I explore the following options for the (...)
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  • The Physics and Metaphysics of Primitive Stuff.Michael Esfeld, Dustin Lazarovici, Vincent Lam & Mario Hubert - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):133-61.
    The article sets out a primitive ontology of the natural world in terms of primitive stuff—that is, stuff that has as such no physical properties at all—but that is not a bare substratum either, being individuated by metrical relations. We focus on quantum physics and employ identity-based Bohmian mechanics to illustrate this view, but point out that it applies all over physics. Properties then enter into the picture exclusively through the role that they play for the dynamics of the primitive (...)
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  • Quantum Humeanism, Or: Physicalism Without Properties.Michael Esfeld - 2014 - Philosophical Quarterly 64 (256):453-470.
    In recent literature, it has become clear that quantum physics does not refute Humeanism: Lewis’s thesis of Humean supervenience can be literally true even in the light of quantum entanglement. This point has so far been made with respect to Bohm’s quantum theory. Against this background, this paper seeks to achieve the following four results: to generalize the option of quantum Humeanism from Bohmian mechanics to primitive ontology theories in general; to show that this option applies also to classical mechanics; (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Laws: Dispositionalism Vs. Primitivism.Mauro Dorato & Michael Esfeld - 2014 - In T. Bigaj & C. Wutrich (eds.), Metaphysics and Science. Poznan Studies.
    The paper compares dispositionalism about laws of nature with primitivism. It argues that while the distinction between these two positions can be drawn in a clear-cut manner in classical mechanics, it is less clear in quantum mechanics, due to quantum non-locality. Nonetheless, the paper points out advantages for dispositionalism in comparison to primitivism also in the area of quantum mechanics, and of contemporary physics in general.
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  • Metaphysics of Science as Naturalized Metaphysics.Michael Esfeld - 2018 - In Anouk Barberousse, Denis Bonnay & Mikael Cozic (eds.), The philosophy of science. A companion. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press. pp. 142-170.
    This chapter outlines a metaphysics of science in the sense of a naturalized metaphysics. It considers in the first place the interplay of physics and metaphysics in Newtonian mechanics, then goes into the issues for the metaphysics of time that relativity physics raises, shows that what one considers as the referent of quantum theory depends on metaphysical considerations and finally explains how the stance that one takes with respect to objective modality and laws of nature shapes the options that are (...)
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  • Individuality and the Account of Non-Locality: The Case for the Particle Ontology in Quantum Physics.Michael Esfeld - unknown
    The paper explains why an ontology of permanent point particles that are individuated by their relative positions and that move on continuous trajectories as given by a deterministic law of motion constitutes the best solution to the measurement problem in both quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. This case is made by comparing the Bohmian theory to collapse theories such as the GRW matter density and the GRW flash theory. It is argued that the Bohmian theory makes the minimal changes, (...)
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  • Super-Humeanism: A Starving Ontology.Dustin Lazarovici - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 64:79-86.
    The paper provides a critical discussion of the Super-Humean view of spacetime and the “minimalist ontology” in terms of Leibnizian relations and primitive matter points, recently developed by Esfeld et al. It investigates, in particular, the empirical adequacy of the proposed metaphysics, arguing that Super-Humeanism cannot provide a plausible account of space and time without committing to bona fide geometric structure in the fundamental relations. Against this backdrop, I propose a moderate version of Super-Humeanism and discuss its possible application to (...)
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  • What is Matter? The Fundamental Ontology of Atomism and Structural Realism.Michael Esfeld, Dirk-André Deckert & Andrea Oldofredi - unknown
    We set out a fundamental ontology of atomism in terms of matter points. While being most parsimonious, this ontology is able to match both classical and quantum mechanics, and it remains a viable option for any future theory of cosmology that goes beyond current quantum physics. The matter points are structurally individuated: all there is to them are the spatial relations in which they stand; neither a commitment to intrinsic properties nor to an absolute space is required. The spatial relations (...)
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  • Relationalism About Mechanics Based on a Minimalist Ontology of Matter.Antonio Vassallo, Dirk-André Deckert & Michael Esfeld - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-20.
    This paper elaborates on relationalism about space and time as motivated by a minimalist ontology of the physical world: there are only matter points that are individuated by the distance relations among them, with these relations changing. We assess two strategies to combine this ontology with physics, using classical mechanics as example: the Humean strategy adopts the standard, non-relationalist physical theories as they stand and interprets their formal apparatus as the means of bookkeeping of the change of the distance relations (...)
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  • The Asymmetry of Counterfactual Dependence.Christian Loew - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (3):436-455.
    A certain type of counterfactual is thought to be intimately related to causation, control, and explanation. The time asymmetry of these phenomena therefore plausibly arises from a time asymmetry of counterfactual dependence. But why is counterfactual dependence time asymmetric? The most influential account of the time asymmetry of counterfactual dependence is David Albert’s account, which posits a new, time-asymmetric fundamental physical law, the so-called “past hypothesis.” Albert argues that the time asymmetry of counterfactual dependence arises from holding fixed the past (...)
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