Physics and the phenomenal world

In Roberto Poli & Peter Simons (eds.), Formal Ontology. Dordrecht: Kluwer. pp. 233-254 (1996)
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The paper challenges the assumption, common amongst philosophers, that the reality described in the fundamental theories of microphysics is all the reality we have. It will be argued that this assumption is in fact incompatible with the nature of such theories. It will be shown further that the macro-world of three-dimensional bodies and of such qualitative structures as colour and sound can be treated scientifically on its own terms, which is to say not only from the perspective of psychology but also ontologically. A new sort of emergentist position will be defended, one which yields the basis of a method for describing the perceptually salient macroscopic world in mathematical terms. Broadly, it will be argued that the macroscopic world exists in virtue of certain specific sorts of boundary-patterns in the field of what is captured by the theories of microphysics.

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Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo


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