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John W. Carroll
North Carolina State University
Sean M. Carroll
Johns Hopkins University
Thomas D. Carroll
Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen)
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  1. Consciousness and the Laws of Physics.Sean M. Carroll - 2021 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 28 (9-10):16-31.
    We have a much better understanding of physics than we do of consciousness. I consider ways in which intrinsically mental aspects of fundamental ontology might induce modifications of the known laws of physics, or whether they could be relevant to accounting for consciousness if no such modifications exist. I suggest that our current knowledge of physics should make us skeptical of hypothetical modifications of the known rules, and that without such modifications it’s hard to imagine how intrinsically mental aspects could (...)
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  2. Self-Locating Uncertainty and the Origin of Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics.Charles T. Sebens & Sean M. Carroll - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (1):axw004.
    A longstanding issue in attempts to understand the Everett (Many-Worlds) approach to quantum mechanics is the origin of the Born rule: why is the probability given by the square of the amplitude? Following Vaidman, we note that observers are in a position of self-locating uncertainty during the period between the branches of the wave function splitting via decoherence and the observer registering the outcome of the measurement. In this period it is tempting to regard each branch as equiprobable, but we (...)
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  3. Reality as a Vector in Hilbert Space.Sean M. Carroll - 2022 - In Valia Allori (ed.), Quantum Mechanics and Fundamentality: Naturalizing Quantum Theory between Scientific Realism and Ontological Indeterminacy. Copenhagen: Springer Cham. pp. 211-224.
    I defend the extremist position that the fundamental ontology of the world consists of a vector in Hilbert space evolving according to the Schrödinger equation. The laws of physics are determined solely by the energy eigenspectrum of the Hamiltonian. The structure of our observed world, including space and fields living within it, should arise as a higher-level emergent description. I sketch how this might come about, although much work remains to be done.
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  4. Why Boltzmann Brains Are Bad.Sean M. Carroll - forthcoming - In Shamik Dasgupta & Brad Weslake (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science. Routledge.
    Some modern cosmological models predict the appearance of Boltzmann Brains: observers who randomly fluctuate out of a thermal bath rather than naturally evolving from a low-entropy Big Bang. A theory in which most observers are of the Boltzmann Brain type is generally thought to be unacceptable, although opinions differ. I argue that such theories are indeed unacceptable: the real problem is with fluctuations into observers who are locally identical to ordinary observers, and their existence cannot be swept under the rug (...)
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  5. Beyond Falsifiability: Normal Science in a Multiverse.Sean M. Carroll - 2019 - In Richard Dawid, Radin Dardashti & Karim Thebault (eds.), Epistemology of Fundamental Physics: Why Trust a Theory? Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    Cosmological models that invoke a multiverse - a collection of unobservable regions of space where conditions are very different from the region around us - are controversial, on the grounds that unobservable phenomena shouldn't play a crucial role in legitimate scientific theories. I argue that the way we evaluate multiverse models is precisely the same as the way we evaluate any other models, on the basis of abduction, Bayesian inference, and empirical success. There is no scientifically respectable way to do (...)
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  6. Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing?Sean M. Carroll - 2021 - In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics.
    It seems natural to ask why the universe exists at all. Modern physics suggests that the universe can exist all by itself as a self-contained system, without anything external to create or sustain it. But there might not be an absolute answer to why it exists. I argue that any attempt to account for the existence of something rather than nothing must ultimately bottom out in a set of brute facts; the universe simply is, without ultimate cause or explanation.
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  7. The Quantum Field Theory on Which the Everyday World Supervenes.Sean M. Carroll - 2022 - In Stavros Ioannidis, Gal Vishne, Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker (eds.), Levels of Reality in Science and Philosophy. Copenhagen: Springer Cham. pp. 27-46.
    Effective Field Theory (EFT) is the successful paradigm underlying modern theoretical physics, including the "Core Theory" of the Standard Model of particle physics plus Einstein's general relativity. I will argue that EFT grants us a unique insight: each EFT model comes with a built-in specification of its domain of applicability. Hence, once a model is tested within some domain (of energies and interaction strengths), we can be confident that it will continue to be accurate within that domain. Currently, the Core (...)
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  8.  43
    Quantum Mereology: Factorizing Hilbert Space Into Subsystems with Quasi-Classical Dynamics.Sean M. Carroll & Ashmeet Singh - 2021 - Physical Review A 103 (2):022213.
    We study the question of how to decompose Hilbert space into a preferred tensor-product factorization without any pre-existing structure other than a Hamiltonian operator, in particular the case of a bipartite decomposition into "system" and "environment." Such a decomposition can be defined by looking for subsystems that exhibit quasi-classical behavior. The correct decomposition is one in which pointer states of the system are relatively robust against environmental monitoring (their entanglement with the environment does not continually and dramatically increase) and remain (...)
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  9. Many Worlds, the Born Rule, and Self-Locating Uncertainty.Sean M. Carroll & Charles T. Sebens - 2014 - In Daniele C. Struppa & Jeffrey M. Tollaksen (eds.), Quantum Theory: A Two-Time Success Story. Springer. pp. 157-169.
    We provide a derivation of the Born Rule in the context of the Everett (Many-Worlds) approach to quantum mechanics. Our argument is based on the idea of self-locating uncertainty: in the period between the wave function branching via decoherence and an observer registering the outcome of the measurement, that observer can know the state of the universe precisely without knowing which branch they are on. We show that there is a uniquely rational way to apportion credence in such cases, which (...)
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  10. In What Sense Is the Early Universe Fine-Tuned?Sean M. Carroll - forthcoming - In Barry Loewer, Brad Weslake & Eric Winsberg (eds.), Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World. Harvard University Press.
    It is commonplace in discussions of modern cosmology to assert that the early universe began in a special state. Conventionally, cosmologists characterize this fine-tuning in terms of the horizon and flatness problems. I argue that the fine-tuning is real, but these problems aren't the best way to think about it: causal disconnection of separated regions isn't the real problem, and flatness isn't a problem at all. Fine-tuning is better understood in terms of a measure on the space of trajectories: given (...)
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  11. Does the Universe Need God?Sean M. Carroll - 2012 - In J. B. Stump & Alan G. Padgett (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 185-197.
    I ask whether what we know about the universe from modern physics and cosmology, including fine-tuning, provides compelling evidence for the existence of God, and answer largely in the negative.
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  12. The Traditions of Fideism.Thomas D. Carroll - 2008 - Religious Studies 44 (1):1-22.
    Philosophers and theologians acknowledge that "fideism" is difficult to define but rarely agree on what the best characterization of the term is. In this article, I investigate the history of use of "fideism" to explore why its meaning has been so contested and thus why it has not always been helpful for resolving philosophical problems. I trace the use of the term from its origins in French theology to its current uses in philosophy and theology, concluding that "fideism" is helpful (...)
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  13. Giving Patients Granular Control of Personal Health Information: Using an Ethics ‘Points to Consider’ to Inform Informatics System Designers.Eric M. Meslin, Sheri A. Alpert, Aaron E. Carroll, Jere D. Odell, William M. Tierney & Peter H. Schwartz - 2013 - International Journal of Medical Informatics 82:1136-1143.
    Objective: There are benefits and risks of giving patients more granular control of their personal health information in electronic health record (EHR) systems. When designing EHR systems and policies, informaticists and system developers must balance these benefits and risks. Ethical considerations should be an explicit part of this balancing. Our objective was to develop a structured ethics framework to accomplish this. -/- Methods: We reviewed existing literature on the ethical and policy issues, developed an ethics framework called a “Points to (...)
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  14. The Problem of Relevance and the Future of Philosophy of Religion.Thomas D. Carroll - 2016 - Metaphilosophy 47 (1):39-58.
    Despite the growth in research in philosophy of religion over the past several decades, recent years have seen a number of critical studies of this subfield in an effort to redirect the methods and topics of inquiry. This article argues that in addition to problems of religious parochialism described by critics such as Wesley Wildman, the subfield is facing a problem of relevance. In responding to this problem, it suggests that philosophers of religion should do three things: first, be critically (...)
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  15. Energy Non-conservation in Quantum Mechanics.Sean M. Carroll & Jackie Lodman - 2021 - Foundations of Physics 51 (4):1-15.
    We study the conservation of energy, or lack thereof, when measurements are performed in quantum mechanics. The expectation value of the Hamiltonian of a system changes when wave functions collapse in accordance with the standard textbook treatment of quantum measurement, but one might imagine that the change in energy is compensated by the measuring apparatus or environment. We show that this is not true; the change in the energy of a state after measurement can be arbitrarily large, independent of the (...)
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  16. Language And Thought.John Bissell Carroll - 1964 - Prentice-Hall.
    A psychological study of thought and language which takes an exposition of scientific linquistics as a point of departure.
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  17. The Duty to Protect, Abortion, and Organ Donation.Emily Carroll & Parker Crutchfield - 2022 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 31 (3):333-343.
    Some people oppose abortion on the grounds that fetuses have full moral status and thus a right to not be killed. We argue that special obligations that hold between mother and fetus also hold between parents and their children. We argue that if these special obligations necessitate the sacrifice of bodily autonomy in the case of abortion, then they also necessitate the sacrifice of bodily autonomy in the case of organ donation. If we accept the argument that it is obligatory (...)
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  18. ‘Grasping the Difficulty in its Depth’: Wittgenstein and Globally Engaged Philosophy.Thomas D. Carroll - 2021 - Sophia 60 (1):1-18.
    In recent years, philosophers have used expressions of Wittgenstein’s (e.g. “language-games,” “form of life,” and “family resemblance”) in attempts to conceive of the discipline of philosophy in a broad, open, and perhaps global way. These Wittgenstein-inspired approaches indicate an awareness of the importance of cultural and historical diversity for approaching philosophical questions. While some philosophers have taken inspiration from Wittgenstein in embracing contextualism in philosophical hermeneutics, Wittgenstein himself was more instrumental than contextual in his treatment of other philosophers; his focus (...)
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  19. A Taxonomy of Disgust in Art.Noël Carroll & Filippo Contesi - 2019 - In Kevin Tavin, Mira Kallio-Tavin & Max Ryynänen (eds.), Art, Excess, and Education. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 21–38.
    Disgust has been a perennial feature of art from medieval visions of hell to postmodern travesties. The purpose of this chapter is to chart various ways in which disgust functions in artworks both in terms of content and style, canvassing cases in which the content and/or style is literally disgusting in contrast to cases where the disgust serves to characterize the content, often for moral or political or broader cultural purposes.
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  20.  31
    Book Review: Mu Peng, Religion and Religious Practices in Rural China (New York: Routledge 2019). [REVIEW]Thomas D. Carroll - 2021 - Reading Religion.
    This is a review of Mu Peng's recent book on popular religion in rural China.
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  21.  38
    Wittgenstein and the Analects on the Ethics of Clarification.Thomas D. Carroll - 2016 - Philosophy East and West 66 (4):1148-1167.
    At first glance, it might seem an odd pairing: the Analects and Wittgenstein. Comparison between a classical Chinese philosophical text, whose primary topics were the cultivation of xiao and he, and the corpus of an early to mid-twentieth-century Austrian philosopher, whose primary topics had to do with logic, language, and the nature of philosophy, does not obviously recommend itself. Yet, I contend in this article that there is much to be gained from careful comparison between these two very different pictures (...)
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  22. Clarifying Conversations: Understanding Cultural Difference in Philosophical Education.Thomas D. Carroll - 2017 - In Michael A. Peters & Jeff Stickney (eds.), A Companion to Wittgenstein on Education: Pedagogical Investigations. pp. 757-769.
    The goal of this essay is to explain how Wittgenstein's philosophy may be helpful for understanding and addressing challenges to cross-cultural communication in educational contexts. In particular, the notions of “hinge,” “intellectual distance,” and “grounds” from On Certainty will be helpful for identifying cultural differences. Wittgenstein's dialogical conception of philosophy in Philosophical Investigations will be helpful for addressing that cultural difference in conversation. While here can be no panacea to address all potential sources of confusion, Wittgenstein's philosophy has strong resources (...)
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  23. The Debate Over "Wittgensteinian Fideism" and Phillips’ Contemplative Philosophy of Religion.Thomas D. Carroll - 2010 - In Ingolf U. Dalferth Hartmut von Sass (ed.), The Contemplative Spirit. D.Z. Phillips on Religion and the Limits of Philosophy. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. pp. 99-114.
    When surveying the scholarly literature over Wittgensteinian fideism, it is easy to get the sense that the principal interlocutors, Kai Nielsen and D.Z. Phillips, talk past one another, but finding the right words for appraising the distance between the two voices is difficult. In this paper, I seek to appreciate this intellectual distance through an exploration of the varying philosophical aims of Nielsen and Phillips, of the different intellectual imperatives that guide their respective conceptions of philosophical practice. In so doing, (...)
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  24. Review: Miles Hollingworth, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press , October 2018. 304 Pages. $34.95. Hardcover. ISBN 9780190873998. [REVIEW]Thomas D. Carroll - 2019 - Reading Religion.
    This is a review of Miles Hollingworth's recent intellectual biography of Wittgenstein.
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  25. Wittgenstein and Ascriptions of "Religion".Thomas D. Carroll - 2019 - In Gorazd Andrejč & Daniel Weiss (eds.), Interpreting Interreligious Relations with Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. pp. 54–72.
    Recent years have seen an increasing amount of studies of the history of the term “religion” and how it figures in conceptions of “the secular” and of cultural differences generally. A recurrent theme in these studies is that “religion” carries associations with Protestant Christianity and thus is not as universal a category as it might appear. The aim of this paper is to explore some resources in Wittgenstein’s philosophy to obtain greater clarity about the contexts of ascription of religion-status to (...)
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  26. Between the Infinite and the Finite: God, Hegel and Disagreement.Anthony Joseph Carroll - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (3):95-113.
    In this article, I consider the importance of philosophy in the dialogue between religious believers and non-believers. I begin by arguing that a new epistemology of epistemic peer disagreement is required if the dialogue is to progress. Rather than viewing the differences between the positions as due to a deficit of understanding, I argue that differences result from the existential anchoring of such enquiries in life projects and the under-determination of interpretations by experience. I then explore a central issue which (...)
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  27. Response to Brian R. Clack.Thomas D. Carroll - 2015 - Sophia 54 (3):381-383.
    In this short piece, I respond to Brian R. Clack's review of my book, Wittgenstein within the Philosophy of Religion.
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  28.  23
    Review: A. W. Moore. Noble in Reason, Infinite in Faculty: Themes and Variations in Kant’s Moral and Religious Philosophy (London and New York, Routledge, 2003). [REVIEW]Thomas D. Carroll - 2005 - Heythrop Journal 46 (4):609-611.
    Review of A. W. Moore's 2003 book on Kant's moral and religious philosophy.
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  29.  65
    Wittgenstein and the Xunzi on the Clarification of Language.Thomas D. Carroll - 2018 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 17 (4):527-545.
    Broadly speaking, language is part of a social activity in both Wittgenstein and Xunzi 荀子, and for both clarification of language is central to their philosophical projects; the goal of this article is to explore the extent of resonance and discord that may be found when comparing these two philosophers. While for Xunzi, the rectification of names is anchored in a regard for establishing, propagating, and/or restoring a harmonious social system, perspicuity is for Wittgenstein represented as a philosophical end in (...)
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  30. Theory of Finite Automata with an Introduction to Formal Languages.J. Carroll & Darrell Long - 1989
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  31.  77
    Fundamentals of Logic, Reasoning, and Argumentation: An Evidence-Supported Curriculum Targeting Scientific Literacy to Increase Public Understanding and Engagement in Science.La Shun L. Carroll - 2020 - Multidisciplinary Journal for Education, Social and Technological Sciences 7 (1):72-88.
    The purpose of this article is to present an evidence-supported curriculum covering the fundamentals of logic, reasoning, and argumentation skills to address the emphasized basic knowledge, skills, and abilities required to be scientifically literate, which will prepare the public to understand and engage with science meaningfully. An analytic-synthetic approach toward understanding the notion of public is taken using a theoretical biomimetics framework that identifies naturally occurring objects or phenomena that descriptively captures the essence of a construct to facilitate creative problem-solving. (...)
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  32. Neutrality and the Social Contract.Ian J. Carroll - 2009 - Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 4 (2):134-150.
    Given the fact of moral disagreement, theories of state neutrality which rely on moral premises will have limited application, in that they will fail to motivate anyone who rejects the moral premises on which they are based. By contrast, contractarian theories can be consistent with moral scepticism, and can therefore avoid this limitation. In this paper, I construct a contractarian model which I claim is sceptically consistent and includes a principle of state neutrality as a necessary condition. The principle of (...)
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