Chemistry and physics are two sciences that are hard to connect. Yet there is significant overlap in their aims, methods, and theoretical approaches. In this book, the reduction of chemistry to physics is defended from the viewpoint of a naturalised Nagelian reduction, which is based on a close reading of Nagel's original text. This naturalised notion of reduction is capable of characterising the inter-theory relationships between theories of chemistry and theories of physics. The reconsideration of reduction also (...) leads to a new characterisation of chemical theories. This book is primarily aimed at philosophers of chemistry and chemists with an interest in philosophy, but is also of interest to the general philosopher of science. (shrink)
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 (...) Theory has been tested in regimes that include all of the energy scales relevant to the physics of everyday life (biology, chemistry, technology, etc.). Therefore, we have reason to be confident that the laws of physics underlying the phenomena of everyday life are completely known. (shrink)
The success of a few theories in statistical thermodynamics can be correlated with their selectivity to reality. These are the theories of Boltzmann, Gibbs, end Einstein. The starting point is Carnot’s theory, which defines implicitly the general selection of reality relevant to thermodynamics. The three other theories share this selection, but specify it further in detail. Each of them separates a few main aspects within the scope of the implicit thermodynamic reality. Their success grounds on that selection. Those aspects can (...) be represented by corresponding oppositions. These are: macroscopic – microscopic; elements – states; relational – non-relational; and observable – theoretical. They can be interpreted as axes of independent qualities constituting a common qualitative reference frame shared by those theories. Each of them can be situated in this reference frame occupying a different place. This reference frame can be interpreted as an additional selection of reality within Carnot’s initial selection describable as macroscopic and both observable and theoretical. The deduced reference frame refers implicitly to many scientific theories independent of their subject therefore defining a general and common space or subspace for scientific theories (not for all). The immediate conclusion is: The examples of a few statistical thermodynamic theories demonstrate that the concept of “reality” is changed or generalized, or even exemplified (i.e. “de-generalized”) from a theory to another. Still a few more general suggestions referring the scientific realism debate can be added: One can admit that reality in scientific theories is some partially shared common qualitative space or subspace describable by relevant oppositions and rather independent of their subject quite different in general. Many or maybe all theories can be situated in that space of reality, which should develop adding new dimensions in it for still newer and newer theories. Its division of independent subspaces can represent the many-realities conception. The subject of a theory determines some relevant subspace of reality. This represents a selection within reality, relevant to the theory in question. The success of that theory correlates essentially with the selection within reality, relevant to its subject. (shrink)
Strong claims have been made for emergence as a new paradigm for understanding science, consciousness, and religion. Tracing the past history and current definitions of the concept, Clayton assesses the case for emergent phenomena in the natural world and their significance for philosophy and theology. Complex emergent phenomena require irreducible levels of explanation in physics, chemistry and biology. This pattern of emergence suggests a new approach to the problem of consciousness, which is neither reducible to brain states nor proof (...) of a mental substance or soul. Although emergence does not entail classical theism, it is compatible with a variety of religious positions. Clayton concludes with a defence of emergentist panentheism and a Christian constructive theology consistent with the new sciences of emergence. (shrink)
Arthur Clark and Michael Kube–McDowell (“The Triger”, 2000) suggested the sci-fi idea about the direct transformation from a chemical substance to another by the action of a newly physical, “Trigger” field. Karl Brohier, a Nobel Prize winner, who is a dramatic persona in the novel, elaborates a new theory, re-reading and re-writing Pauling’s “The Nature of the Chemical Bond”; according to Brohier: “Information organizes and differentiates energy. It regularizes and stabilizes matter. Information propagates through matter-energy and mediates the interactions of (...) matter-energy.” Dr Horton, his collaborator in the novel replies: “If the universe consists of energy and information, then the Trigger somehow alters the information envelope of certain substances –“. “Alters it, scrambles it, overwhelms it, destabilizes it” Brohier adds. There is a scientific debate whether or how far chemistry is fundamentally reducible to quantum mechanics. Nevertheless, the fact that many essential chemical properties and reactions are at least partly representable in terms of quantum mechanics is doubtless. For the quantum mechanics itself has been reformulated as a theory of a special kind of information, quantum information, chemistry might be in turn interpreted in the same terms. Wave function, the fundamental concept of quantum mechanics, can be equivalently defined as a series of qubits, eventually infinite. A qubit, being defined as the normed superposition of the two orthogonal subspaces of the complex Hilbert space, can be interpreted as a generalization of the standard bit of information as to infinite sets or series. All “forces” in the Standard model, which are furthermore essential for chemical transformations, are groups [U(1),SU(2),SU(3)] of the transformations of the complex Hilbert space and thus, of series of qubits. One can suggest that any chemical substances and changes are fundamentally representable as quantum information and its transformations. If entanglement is interpreted as a physical field, though any group above seems to be unattachable to it, it might be identified as the “Triger field”. It might cause a direct transformation of any chemical substance by from a remote distance. Is this possible in principle? (shrink)
How the universe came to be what it is now is a key philosophical question. The hypothesis that it came from nothing or śūnya (as proposed by Stephen Hawking, among others) proves to be dissembling, since the quantum vacuum can hardly be considered a void (śūnya). In modern science, it is generally assumed that matter existed before the universe came to be. Modern science hypothesizes that the manifestation of life on earth is nothing but a mere increment in the (...) complexity of matter – and hence is an outcome of evolution of matter (chemical evolution) following the Big Bang. After the manifestation of life, modern science believed that chemical evolution transformed itself into biological evolution, which then had caused the entire biodiversity on our planet. In the framework of materialism, the major attention is to find general organizational laws stimulated by physical sciences, ignoring the uniqueness of life. The main goal of materialism is to reduce consciousness to natural processes, which in turn can be translated into the language of math, physics, and chemistry. Following this approach, scientists have made several attempts to deny the living organism of its veracity as an immortal soul, in favor of genes, molecules, atoms, and so on. However, advancement in various fields of biology has repeatedly given rise to questions against such a denial and has supplied more and more evidence against the completely misleading ideological imposition that living entities are particular states of matter. In the recent past, however, the realization has arisen that cognitive nature of life at all levels has begun presenting significant challenges to the views of materialism in biology and has created a more receptive environment for the soul hypothesis (Shanta BN. Commun Integr Biol 8(5):e1085138, 2015). Therefore, instead of adjudicating different aprioristic claims, the development of an authentic theory of origin of life and universe needs both proper scientific knowledge and the appropriate tools of philosophical analysis of life. This talk will highlight the uniqueness of biological systems that offers a considerable challenge to the mainstream materialism and proposes the Vedāntic philosophical view as a viable alternative for development of a theory worthy of origin of life and universe. (shrink)
Intra-molecular connectivity (that is, chemical structure) does not emerge from computations based on fundamental quantum-mechanical principles. In order to compute molecular electronic energies (of C 3 H 4 hydrocarbons, for instance) quantum chemists must insert intra-molecular connectivity “by hand.” Some take this as an indication that chemistry cannot be reduced to physics: others consider it as evidence that quantumchemistry needs new logical foundations. Such discussions are generally synchronic rather than diachronic —that is, they neglect (...) ‘historical’ aspects. However, systems of interest to chemists generally are metastable . In many cases chemical systems of a given elemental composition may exist in any one of several different metastable states depending on the history of the system. Molecular structure generally depends on contingent historical circumstances of synthesis and separation, rather than solely or mainly on relative energies of alternative stable states, those energies in turn determined by relationships among components. Chemical structure is usually ‘kinetically-determined’ rather than ‘thermodynamically-determined.’ For instance, cyclical hydrocarbon ring-systems (as in cyclopropene) are produced only in special circumstances. Adequate theoretical treatments must take account of the persistent effects of such contingent historical events whenever they are relevant—as they generally are in chemistry. (shrink)
In this paper we investigate with a case study from chemistry under what conditions a simulation can serve as a surrogate for an experiment. The case-study concerns a simulation of H2-formation in outer space. We find that in this case the simulation can act as a surrogate for an experiment, because there exists comprehensive theoretical background knowledge in form of quantum mechanics about the range of phenomena to which the investigated process belongs and because any particular modelling assumptions (...) as can be justified. If these requirements are met then direct empirical validation may even be dispensable. We conjecture that this is not the case in the absence of comprehensive theoretical background knowledge. (shrink)
Whether or not quantum physics can account for molecular structure is a matter of considerable controversy. Three of the problems raised in this regard are the problems of molecular structure. We argue that these problems are just special cases of the measurement problem of quantum mechanics: insofar as the measurement problem is solved, the problems of molecular structure are resolved as well. In addition, we explore one consequence of our argument: that claims about the reduction or emergence of (...) molecular structure cannot be settled independently of the choice of a particular resolution to the measurement problem. Specifically, we consider how three standard putative solutions to the measurement problem inform our under- standing of a molecule in isolation, as well as of chemistry’s relation to quantum physics. (shrink)
In his book, History as a Science and the System of the Sciences, Thomas Seebohm articulates the view that history can serve to mediate between the sciences of explanation and the sciences of interpretation, that is, between the natural sciences and the human sciences. Among other things, Seebohm analyzes history from a phenomenological perspective to reveal the material foundations of the historical human sciences in the lifeworld. As a preliminary to his analyses, Seebohm examines the formal and material presuppositions of (...) phenomenological epistemology, as well as the emergence of the human sciences and the traditional distinctions and divisions that are made between the natural and the human sciences. -/- As part of this examination, Seebohm devotes a section to discussing Husserl’s formal mereology because he understands that a reflective analysis of the foundations of the historical sciences requires a reflective analysis of the objects of the historical sciences, that is, of concrete organic wholes (i.e., social groups) and of their parts. Seebohm concludes that Husserl’s mereological ontology needs to be altered with regard to the historical sciences because the relations between organic wholes and their parts are not summative relations. Seebohm’s conclusion is relevant for the issue of the reducibility of organic wholes such as social groups to their parts and for the issue of the reducibility of the historical sciences to the lower-order sciences, that is, to the sciences concerned with lower-order ontologies. -/- In this paper, I propose to extend Seebohm’s conclusion to the ontology of chemical wholes as object of quantumchemistry and to argue that Husserl’s formal mereology is descriptively inadequate for this regional ontology as well. This may seem surprising at first, since the objects studied by quantum chemists are not organic wholes. However, my discussion of atoms and molecules as they are understood in quantumchemistry will show that Husserl’s classical summative and extensional mereology does not accurately capture the relations between chemical wholes and their parts. This conclusion is relevant for the question of the reducibility of chemical wholes to their parts and of the reducibility of chemistry to physics, issues that have been of central importance within the philosophy of chemistry for the past several decades. (shrink)
Herman Gorter (1864-1927) became famous as the author of May (1889) and Poems (1890). His opus magnum Pan, published in 1916, hardly acquired any readership at all, which is remarkable, given the monumental size and scope of this unique achievement, celebrating the imminent proletarian revolution and the advent of the communist era: a visionary work of global proportions. Gorter’s Pan will be assessed as thinking poetry, more precisely: as dialectical materialist poetry, as a work of art which articulates a dialectical (...) materialist worldview, not only concerning political economy and society, but also concerning nature and the universe as such, from the stars and galaxies of modern astrophysics down to the atoms and molecules of modern chemistry and quantum physics. Gorter’s monumental work is ‘thinking poetry’ in the Heideggerian sense of the term, sensitive to an imminent upheaval of Being as such, as well as a dialectical materialist artwork (albeit with a tinge of Spinozism) contributing (via the ‘school of poetry’) to a dialectical understanding of space, time, life and matter. In this article, I will focus on two crucial recurring motives: the motif of the shining crystal and the motif of the beaming galaxy. Via these motifs, so I suggest, Gorter aspires to bridge the gap between his epic-lyrical poetry and twentieth-century science. (shrink)
When a group of processes achieves such closure that a set of states of affairs recurs continually, then the effect of that coherence on the world differs from what would occur in the absence of that closure. Such altered effectiveness is an attribute of the system as a whole, and would have consequences. This indicates that the network of processes, as a unit, has ontological significance. Whenever a network of processes generates continual return to a limited set of states of (...) affairs, the system may function as a “whole”— with respect to appropriate interaction partners. The balance achieved by the processes provides the form of definiteness of a unified agent. The causal powers of such coherent aggregates are indeed just the powers of the “constituents acting in concert”. However, the components act in concert in the specific way they do only because of their inclusion in the closed set of interactions that defines the coherence. This renders the causal powers of the coherence defined by that closure non-redundant, and hence the coherence, as a unit, is ontologically significant. The form of definiteness that provides internal coherence also grounds external efficacy of the societal aggregation. The closure is a structural feature of the coherence — possibly, but not necessarily, apparent in spatial structuring. This approach can provide a unified account that includes quantum microphysics, systems biology, and the philosophy of organism ─ without reducing any of these to another. (shrink)
The file on this site provides the slides for a lecture given in Hangzhou in May 2018, and the lecture itself is available at the URL beginning 'sms' in the set of links provided in connection with this item. -/- It is commonly assumed that regular physics underpins biology. Here it is proposed, in a synthesis of ideas by various authors, that in reality structures and mechanisms of a biological character underpin the world studied by physicists, in principle supplying detail (...) in the domain that according to regular physics is of an indeterminate character. In regular physics mathematical equations are primary, but this constraint leads to problems with reconciling theory and reality. Biology on the other hand typically does not characterise nature in quantitative terms, instead investigating in detail important complex interrelationships between parts, leading to an understanding of the systems concerned that is in some respects beyond that which prevails in regular physics. It makes contact with quantum physics in various ways, for example in that both involve interactions between observer and observed, an insight that explains what is special about processes involving observation, justifying in the quantum physics context the replacement of the unphysical many-worlds picture by one involving collapse. The link with biology furthermore clarifies Wheeler’s suggestion that a multiplicity of observations can lead to the ‘fabrication of form’, including the insight that this process depends on very specific ‘structures with power’ related to the 'semiotic scaffolding' of the application of sign theory to biology known as biosemiotics. -/- The observer-observed 'circle' of Wheeler and Yardley is a special case of a more general phenomenon, oppositional dynamics, related to the 'intra-action' of Barad's Agential Realism, involving cooperating systems such as mind and matter, abstract and concrete, observer and observed, that preserve their identities while interacting with one another in such a way as to act as a unit. A third system may also be involved, the mediating system of Peirce linking the two together. Such a situation of changing connections and separations may plausibly lead in the future to an understanding of how complex systems are able to evolve to produce 'life, the universe and everything'. -/- (Added 1 July 2018) The general structure proposed here as an alternative to a mathematics-based physics can be usefully characterised by relating it to different disciplines and the specialised concepts utilised therein. In theoretical physics, the test for the correctness of a theory typically involves numerical predictions, corresponding to which theories are expressed in terms of equations, that is to say assertions that two quantities have identical values. Equations have a lesser significance in biology which typically talks in terms of functional mechanisms, dependent for example on details of chemistry and concepts such as genes, natural selection, signals and geometrical or topologically motivated concepts such as the interconnections between systems and the unfolding of DNA. Biosemiotics adds to this the concept of signs and their interpretation, implying novel concepts such as semiotic scaffolding and the semiosphere, code duality, and appreciation of the different types of signs, including symbols and their capacity for abstraction and use in language systems. Circular Theory adds to this picture, as do the ideas of Barad, considerations such as the idea of oppositional dynamics. The proposals in this lecture can be regarded as the idea that concepts such as those deriving from biosemiotics have more general applicability than just conventional biology and may apply, in some circumstances, to nonlinear systems generally, including the domain new to science hypothesised to underlie the phenomena of present-day physics. -/- The task then has to be to restore the mathematical aspect presumed, in this picture, not to be fundamental as it is in conventional theory. Deacon has invoked a complex sequence of evolutionary steps to account for the emergence over time of human language systems, and correspondingly mathematical behaviour can be subsumed under the general evolutionary mechanisms of biosemiotics (cf. also the proposals of Davis and Hersh regarding the nature of mathematics), so that the mathematical behaviour of physical systems is consistent with the proposed scheme. In conclusion, it is suggested that theoretical physicists should cease expecting to find some universal mathematical ‘theory of everything’, and focus instead on understanding in more detail complex systems exhibiting behaviour of a biological character, extending existing understanding. This may in time provide a more fruitful understanding of the natural world than does the regular approach. The essential concepts have an observational basis from both biology and the little-known discipline of cymatics (a discipline concerned with the remarkable patterns that specific waveforms can give rise to), while again computer simulations also offer promise in providing insight into the complex behaviours involved in the above proposals. -/- References -/- Jesper Hoffmeyer, Semiotic Scaffolding of Living Systems. Commens, a Digital Companion to C. S. Peirce (on Commens web site). Terrence Deacon, The Symbolic Species, W.W. Norton & Co. Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning, Duke University Press. Philip Davis and Reuben Hersh, The Mathematical Experience, Penguin. Ilexa Yardley, Circular Theory. (shrink)
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 supervenes on the intrinsic properties of and spatio-temporal relations between its point-sized constituents. Here I defend Lewis's metaphysical doctrine, and traditional reductionism more generally, against this alleged threat from quantum holism. After presenting the non-separability argument from entanglement, I show that Bohmian mechanics, an interpretation of quantum mechanics explicitly recognized as a realist one by proponents of the non-separability argument, plausibly rejects a key premise of that argument. Another holistic worry for Humeanism persists, however, the trouble being the apparently holistic character of the Bohmian pilot wave. I present a Humean strategy for addressing the holistic threat from the pilot wave by drawing on resources from the Humean best system account of laws. (shrink)
Biomolecules and particularly proteins and DNA exhibit some mysterious features that cannot find satisfactory explanation by quantum mechanical modes of atoms. One of them, known as a Levinthal’s paradox, is the ability to preserve their complex three-dimensional structure in appropriate environments. Another one is that they possess some unknown energy mechanism. The Basic Structures of Matter Supergravitation Unified Theory (BSM-SG) allows uncovering the real physical structures of the elementary particles and their spatial arrangement in atomic nuclei. The resulting physical (...) models of the atoms are characterized by the same interaction energies as the quantum mechanical models, while the structure of the elementary particles influence their spatial arrangement in the nuclei. The resulting atomic models with fully identifiable parameters and angular positions of the quantum orbits permit studying the physical conditions behind the structural and bonding restrictions of the atoms connected in molecules. A new method for a theoretical analysis of biomolecules is proposed. The analysis of a DNA molecule leads to formulation of hypotheses about the energy storage mechanism in DNA and its role in the cell cycle synchronization. This permits shedding a light on the DNA feature known as a C-value paradox. The analysis of a tRNA molecule leads to formulation of a hypothesis about a binary decoding mechanism behind the 20 flavors of the complex aminoacyle-tRNA synthetases - tRNA, known as a paradox. (shrink)
THE PRINCIPLE OF SUPERPOSITION. The need for a quantum theory Classical mechanics has been developed continuously from the time of Newton and applied to an ...
In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, we postulate a low-entropy boundary condition to account for the temporal asymmetry. In this paper, I show that the Past Hypothesis also contains enough information to simplify the quantum ontology and define a unique initial condition in such a world. First, I introduce Density Matrix Realism, the thesis that the quantum universe is described by a fundamental density matrix that represents something objective. This stands in sharp contrast (...) to Wave Function Realism, the thesis that the quantum universe is described by a wave function that represents something objective. Second, I suggest that the Past Hypothesis is sufficient to determine a unique and simple density matrix. This is achieved by what I call the Initial Projection Hypothesis: the initial density matrix of the universe is the normalized projection onto the special low-dimensional Hilbert space. Third, because the initial quantum state is unique and simple, we have a strong case for the \emph{Nomological Thesis}: the initial quantum state of the universe is on a par with laws of nature. This new package of ideas has several interesting implications, including on the harmony between statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics, the dynamic unity of the universe and the subsystems, and the alleged conflict between Humean supervenience and quantum entanglement. (shrink)
I maintain that quantum mechanics is fundamentally about a system of N particles evolving in three-dimensional space, not the wave function evolving in 3N-dimensional space.
In this paper I put forward a new micro realistic, fundamentally probabilistic, propensiton version of quantum theory. According to this theory, the entities of the quantum domain - electrons, photons, atoms - are neither particles nor fields, but a new kind of fundamentally probabilistic entity, the propensiton - entities which interact with one another probabilistically. This version of quantum theory leaves the Schroedinger equation unchanged, but reinterprets it to specify how propensitons evolve when no probabilistic transitions occur. (...) Probabilisitic transitions occur when new "particles" are created as a result of inelastic interactions. All measurements are just special cases of this. This propensiton version of quantum theory, I argue, solves the wave/particle dilemma, is free of conceptual problems that plague orthodox quantum theory, recovers all the empirical success of orthodox quantum theory, and at the same time yields as yet untested predictions that differ from those of orthodox quantum theory. (shrink)
This report reviews what quantum physics and information theory have to tell us about the age-old question, How come existence? No escape is evident from four conclusions: (1) The world cannot be a giant machine, ruled by any preestablished continuum physical law. (2) There is no such thing at the microscopic level as space or time or spacetime continuum. (3) The familiar probability function or functional, and wave equation or functional wave equation, of standard quantum theory provide mere (...) continuum idealizations and by reason of this circumstance conceal the information-theoretic source from which they derive. (4) No element in the description of physics shows itself as closer to primordial than the elementary quantum phenomenon, that is, the elementary device-intermediated act of posing a yes-no physical question and eliciting an answer or, in brief, the elementary act of observer-participancy. Otherwise stated, every physical quantity, every it, derives its ultimate significance from bits, binary yes-or-no indications, a conclusion which we epitomize in the phrase, it from bit. (shrink)
We expound an alternative to the Copenhagen interpretation of the formalism of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. The basic difference is that the new interpretation is formulated in the language of epistemological realism. It involves a change in some basic physical concepts. The ψ function is no longer interpreted as a probability amplitude of the observed behaviour of elementary particles but as an objective physical field representing the particles themselves. The particles are thus extended objects whose extension varies in time according (...) to the variation of ψ. They are considered as fundamental regions of space with some kind of nonlocality. Special consideration is given to the Heisenberg relations, the Einstein-Podolsky- Rosen correlations, the reduction process, the problem of measurement, and the quantum-statistical distributions. (shrink)
Under so-called primitive ontology approaches, in fully describing the history of a quantum system, one thereby attributes interesting properties to regions of spacetime. Primitive ontology approaches, which include some varieties of Bohmian mechanics and spontaneous collapse theories, are interesting in part because they hold out the hope that it should not be too difficult to make a connection between models of quantum mechanics and descriptions of histories of ordinary macroscopic bodies. But such approaches are dualistic, positing a (...) class='Hi'>quantum state as well as ordinary material degrees of freedom. This paper lays out and compares some options that primitive ontologists have for making sense of the quantum state. (shrink)
Within the field of quantum gravity, there is an influential research program developing the connection between quantum entanglement and spatiotemporal distance. Quantum information theory gives us highly refined tools for quantifying quantum entanglement such as the entanglement entropy. Through a series of well-confirmed results, it has been shown how these facts about the entanglement entropy of component systems may be connected to facts about spatiotemporal distance. Physicists are seeing these results as yielding promising methods for better (...) understanding the emergence of (the dynamical) spacetime (of general relativity) from more fundamental quantum theories, and moreover, as promising for the development of a nonperturbative theory of quantum gravity. However, to what extent does the case for the entanglement entropy-distance link provide evidence that spacetime structure is nonfundamental and emergent from nongravitational degrees of freedom? I will show that a closer look at the results lends support only to a weaker conclusion, that the facts about quantum entanglement are constrained by facts about spatiotemporal distance, and not that they are the basis from which facts about spatiotemporal distance emerge. (shrink)
A growing literature is premised on the claim that quantum mechanics provides evidence for metaphysical indeterminacy. But does it? None of the currently fashionable realist interpretations involve fundamental indeterminacy and the ‘standard interpretation’, to the extent that it can be made out, doesn't require indeterminacy either.
Spacetime functionalism is the view that spacetime is a functional structure implemented by a more fundamental ontology. Lam and Wüthrich have recently argued that spacetime functionalism helps to solve the epistemological problem of empirical coherence in quantum gravity and suggested that it also (dis)solves the hard problem of spacetime, namely the problem of offering a picture consistent with the emergence of spacetime from a non-spatio-temporal structure. First, I will deny that spacetime functionalism solves the hard problem by showing that (...) it comes in various species, each entailing a different attitude towards, or answer to, the hard problem. Second, I will argue that the existence of an explanatory gap, which grounds the hard problem, has not been correctly taken into account in the literature. (shrink)
A number of recent theories of quantum gravity lack a one-dimensional structure of ordered temporal instants. Instead, according to many of these views, our world is either best represented as a single three-dimensional object, or as a configuration space composed of such three-dimensional objects, none of which bear temporal relations to one another. Such theories will be empirically self-refuting unless they can accommodate the existence of conscious beings capable of representation. For if representation itself is impossible in a timeless (...) world, then no being in such a world could entertain the thought that a timeless theory is true, let alone believe such a theory or rationally believe it. This paper investigates the options for understanding representation in a three-dimensional, timeless, world. Ultimately it concludes that the only viable option is one according to which representation is taken to be deeply non-naturalistic. Ironically then we are left with two seemingly very unattractive options. Either a very naturalistic motivation—taking seriously a live view in fundamental physics—leads us to a very non-naturalistic view of the mental, or else views in the philosophy of mind partly dictate what is an acceptable theory in physics. (shrink)
Mereotopology faces problems when its methods are extended to deal with time and change. We offer a new solution to these problems, based on a theory of partitions of reality which allows us to simulate (and also to generalize) aspects of set theory within a mereotopological framework. This theory is extended to a theory of coarse- and ﬁne-grained histories (or ﬁnite sequences of partitions evolving over time), drawing on machinery developed within the framework of the so-called ‘consistent histories’ interpretation of (...)quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Relationships between current theories, and relationships between current theories and the sought theory of quantum gravity (QG), play an essential role in motivating the need for QG, aiding the search for QG, and defining what would count as QG. Correspondence is the broad class of inter-theory relationships intended to demonstrate the necessary compatibility of two theories whose domains of validity overlap, in the overlap regions. The variety of roles that correspondence plays in the search for QG are illustrated, using (...) examples from specific QG approaches. Reduction is argued to be a special case of correspondence, and to form part of the definition of QG. Finally, the appropriate account of emergence in the context of QG is presented, and compared to conceptions of emergence in the broader philosophy literature. It is argued that, while emergence is likely to hold between QG and general relativity, emergence is not part of the definition of QG, and nor can it serve usefully in the development and justification of the new theory. (shrink)
I discuss the quantum mechanical theory of consciousness and freewill offered by Stapp (1993, 1995, 2000, 2004). First I show that decoherence-based arguments do not work against this theory. Then discuss a number of problems with the theory: Stapp's separate accounts of consciousness and freewill are incompatible, the interpretations of QM they are tied to are questionable, the Zeno effect could not enable freewill as he suggests because weakness of will would then be ubiquitous, and the holism of measurement (...) in QM is not a good explanation of the unity of consciousness for essentially the same reason that local interactions may seem incapable of accounting for it. (shrink)
We investigate whether standard counterfactual analyses of causation imply that the outcomes of space-like separated measurements on entangled particles are causally related. Although it has sometimes been claimed that standard CACs imply such a causal relation, we argue that a careful examination of David Lewis’s influential counterfactual semantics casts doubt on this. We discuss ways in which Lewis’s semantics and standard CACs might be extended to the case of space-like correlations.
Eternalism, the view that what we regard locally as being located in the past, the present and the future equally exists, is the best ontological account of temporal existence in line with special and general relativity. However, special and general relativity are not fundamental theories and several research programs aim at finding a more fundamental theory of quantum gravity weaving together all we know from relativistic physics and quantum physics. Interestingly, some of these approaches assert that time is (...) not fundamental. If time is not fundamental, what does it entail for eternalism and the standard debate over existence in time? First, I will argue that the non-fundamentality of time to be found in string theory entails standard eternalism. Second, I will argue that the non-fundamentality of time to be found in loop quantum gravity entails atemporal eternalism, namely a novel position in the spirit of standard eternalism. (shrink)
I offer an account of how the quantum theory we have helps us explain so much. The account depends on a pragmatist interpretation of the theory: this takes a quantum state to serve as a source of sound advice to physically situated agents on the content and appropriate degree of belief about matters concerning which they are currently inevitably ignorant. The general account of how to use quantum states and probabilities to explain otherwise puzzling regularities is then (...) illustrated by showing how we can explain single-particle interference phenomena, the stability of matter, and interference of Bose–Einstein condensates. Finally, I note some open problems and relate this account to alternative approaches to explanation that emphasize the importance of causation, of unification, and of structure. 1 Introduction2 Two Requirements on Explanations in Physics3 What We Can use Quantum Theory to Explain4 The Function of Quantum States and Born Probabilities5 How These Functions Contribute to the Explanatory Task6 Example One: Single-Particle Interference7 Example Two: Explanation of the Stability of Matter8 Example Three: Bose Condensation9 Conclusion. (shrink)
It has been argued that the transition from classical to quantum mechanics is an example of a Kuhnian scientific revolution, in which there is a shift from the simple, intuitive, straightforward classical paradigm, to the quantum, convoluted, counterintuitive, amazing new quantum paradigm. In this paper, after having clarified what these quantum paradigms are supposed to be, I analyze whether they constitute a radical departure from the classical paradigm. Contrary to what is commonly maintained, I argue that, (...) in addition to radical quantum paradigms, there are also legitimate ways of understanding the quantum world that do not require any substantial change to the classical paradigm. (shrink)
Our conscious minds exist in the Universe, therefore they should be identified with physical states that are subject to physical laws. In classical theories of mind, the mental states are identified with brain states that satisfy the deterministic laws of classical mechanics. This approach, however, leads to insurmountable paradoxes such as epiphenomenal minds and illusionary free will. Alternatively, one may identify mental states with quantum states realized within the brain and try to resolve the above paradoxes using the standard (...) Hilbert space formalism of quantum mechanics. In this essay, we first show that identification of mind states with quantum states within the brain is biologically feasible, and then elaborating on the mathematical proofs of two quantum mechanical no-go theorems, we explain why quantum theory might have profound implications for the scientific understanding of one's mental states, self identity, beliefs and free will. (shrink)
We put forward a new, ‘coherentist’ account of quantum entanglement, according to which entangled systems are characterized by symmetric relations of ontological dependence among the component particles. We compare this coherentist viewpoint with the two most popular alternatives currently on offer—structuralism and holism—and argue that it is essentially different from, and preferable to, both. In the course of this article, we point out how coherentism might be extended beyond the case of entanglement and further articulated.
Consider the concept combination ‘pet human’. In word association experiments, human subjects produce the associate ‘slave’ in relation to this combination. The striking aspect of this associate is that it is not produced as an associate of ‘pet’, or ‘human’ in isolation. In other words, the associate ‘slave’ seems to be emergent. Such emergent associations sometimes have a creative character and cognitive science is largely silent about how we produce them. Departing from a dimensional model of human conceptual space, this (...) article will explore concept combinations, and will argue that emergent associations are a result of abductive reasoning within conceptual space, that is, below the symbolic level of cognition. A tensor-based approach is used to model concept combinations allowing such combinations to be formalized as interacting quantum systems. Free association norm data is used to motivate the underlying basis of the conceptual space. It is shown by analogy how some concept combinations may behave like quantum-entangled particles. Two methods of analysis were presented for empirically validating the presence of non-separable concept combinations in human cognition. One method is based on quantum theory and another based on comparing a joint probability distribution with another distribution based on a separability assumption using a chi-square goodness-of-fit test. Although these methods were inconclusive in relation to an empirical study of bi-ambiguous concept combinations, avenues for further refinement of these methods are identified. (shrink)
This paper shows how the classical finite probability theory (with equiprobable outcomes) can be reinterpreted and recast as the quantum probability calculus of a pedagogical or toy model of quantum mechanics over sets (QM/sets). There have been several previous attempts to develop a quantum-like model with the base field of ℂ replaced by ℤ₂. Since there are no inner products on vector spaces over finite fields, the problem is to define the Dirac brackets and the probability calculus. (...) The previous attempts all required the brackets to take values in ℤ₂. But the usual QM brackets <ψ|ϕ> give the "overlap" between states ψ and ϕ, so for subsets S,T⊆U, the natural definition is <S|T>=|S∩T| (taking values in the natural numbers). This allows QM/sets to be developed with a full probability calculus that turns out to be a non-commutative extension of classical Laplace-Boole finite probability theory. The pedagogical model is illustrated by giving simple treatments of the indeterminacy principle, the double-slit experiment, Bell's Theorem, and identical particles in QM/Sets. A more technical appendix explains the mathematics behind carrying some vector space structures between QM over ℂ and QM/Sets over ℤ₂. (shrink)
Manfred Eigen extended Erwin Schroedinger’s concept of “life is physics and chemistry” through the introduction of information theory and cybernetic systems theory into “life is physics and chemistry and information.” Based on this assumption, Eigen developed the concepts of quasispecies and hypercycles, which have been dominant in molecular biology and virology ever since. He insisted that the genetic code is not just used metaphorically: it represents a real natural language.However, the basics of scientific knowledge changed dramatically within the (...) second half of the 20th century.Unfortunately, Eigen ignored the results of the philosophy of science discourse on essential features of natural languages and codes: a natural language or code emerges from populations of living agents that communicate. This contribution will look at some of the highlights of this historical development and the results relevant for biological theories about life. (shrink)
Two of the most difficult problems in the foundations of physics are (1) what gives rise to the arrow of time and (2) what the ontology of quantum mechanics is. I propose a unified 'Humean' solution to the two problems. Humeanism allows us to incorporate the Past Hypothesis and the Statistical Postulate into the best system, which we then use to simplify the quantum state of the universe. This enables us to confer the nomological status to the (...) class='Hi'>quantum state in a way that adds no significant complexity to the best system and solves the ''supervenient-kind problem'' facing the original version of the Past Hypothesis. We call the resultant theory the Humean unification. It provides a unified explanation of time asymmetry and quantum entanglement. On this theory, what gives rise to time's arrow is also responsible for quantum phenomena. The new theory has a separable mosaic, a best system that is simple and non-vague, less tension between quantum mechanics and special relativity, and a higher degree of theoretical and dynamical unity. The Humean unification leads to new insights that can be useful to Humeans and non-Humeans alike. (shrink)
Since the pioneering work of Birkhoff and von Neumann, quantum logic has been interpreted as the logic of (closed) subspaces of a Hilbert space. There is a progression from the usual Boolean logic of subsets to the "quantum logic" of subspaces of a general vector space--which is then specialized to the closed subspaces of a Hilbert space. But there is a "dual" progression. The notion of a partition (or quotient set or equivalence relation) is dual (in a category-theoretic (...) sense) to the notion of a subset. Hence the Boolean logic of subsets has a dual logic of partitions. Then the dual progression is from that logic of partitions to the quantum logic of direct-sum decompositions (i.e., the vector space version of a set partition) of a general vector space--which can then be specialized to the direct-sum decompositions of a Hilbert space. This allows the logic to express measurement by any self-adjoint operators rather than just the projection operators associated with subspaces. In this introductory paper, the focus is on the quantum logic of direct-sum decompositions of a finite-dimensional vector space (including such a Hilbert space). The primary special case examined is finite vector spaces over ℤ₂ where the pedagogical model of quantum mechanics over sets (QM/Sets) is formulated. In the Appendix, the combinatorics of direct-sum decompositions of finite vector spaces over GF(q) is analyzed with computations for the case of QM/Sets where q=2. (shrink)
There is a consistent and simple interpretation of the quantum theory of isolated systems. The interpretation suffers no measurement problem and provides a quantum explanation of state reduction, which is usually postulated. Quantum entanglement plays an essential role in the construction of the interpretation.
This philosophical anthropology tries to explore the basic categories of man’s being in the worlds using a special quantum meta-ontology that is introduced in the book. Quantum understanding of space and time, consciousness, or empirical/nonempirical reality elicits new questions relating to philosophical concerns such as subjectivity, free will, mind, perception, experience, dialectic, or agency. The authors have developed an inspiring theoretical framework transcending the boundaries of particular disciplines, e.g. quantum philosophy, metaphysics of consciousness, philosophy of mind, phenomenology (...) of space and time, and ontological relativity. (shrink)
The conspicuous similarities between interpretive strategies in classical statistical mechanics and in quantum mechanics may be grounded on their employment of common implementations of probability. The objective probabilities which represent the underlying stochasticity of these theories can be naturally associated with three of their common formal features: initial conditions, dynamics, and observables. Various well-known interpretations of the two theories line up with particular choices among these three ways of implementing probability. This perspective has significant application to debates on primitive (...) ontology and to the quantum measurement problem. (shrink)
Human agents happen to judge that a conjunction of two terms is more probable than one of the terms, in contradiction with the rules of classical probabilities—this is the conjunction fallacy. One of the most discussed accounts of this fallacy is currently the quantum-like explanation, which relies on models exploiting the mathematics of quantum mechanics. The aim of this paper is to investigate the empirical adequacy of major quantum-like models which represent beliefs with quantum states. We (...) first argue that they can be tested in three different ways, in a question order effect configuration which is different from the traditional conjunction fallacy experiment. We then carry out our proposed experiment, with varied methodologies from experimental economics. The experimental results we get are at odds with the predictions of the quantum-like models. This strongly suggests that this quantum-like account of the conjunction fallacy fails. Future possible research paths are discussed. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Topos quantum theory is standardly portrayed as a kind of ‘neo-realist’ reformulation of quantum mechanics.1 1 In this article, I study the extent to which TQT can really be characterized as a realist formulation of the theory, and examine the question of whether the kind of realism that is provided by TQT satisfies the philosophical motivations that are usually associated with the search for a realist reformulation of quantum theory. Specifically, I show that the notion of (...) the quantum state is problematic for those who view TQT as a realist reformulation of quantum theory. 1Introduction 2Topos Quantum Theory 2.1Phase space 2.2Hilbert space 2.3Beyond Hilbert space 2.4Defining realism 2.5The spectral presheaf 2.6The logic of topos quantum theory 3Interpreting States in Topos Quantum Theory 4Interpreting Truth Values and Clopen Subobjects in Topos Quantum Theory 4.1Interpreting the truth values 4.2Interpreting Subcl 5Neo-realism 5.1The covariant approach 6Conclusion. (shrink)
The theme of phenomenology and quantum physics is here tackled by examining some basic interpretational issues in quantum physics. One key issue in quantum theory from the very beginning has been whether it is possible to provide a quantum ontology of particles in motion in the same way as in classical physics, or whether we are restricted to stay within a more limited view of quantum systems, in terms of complementary but mutually exclusive phenomena. In (...) phenomenological terms we could describe the situation by saying that according to the usual interpretation of quantum theory, quantum phenomena require a kind of epoche. However, there are other interpretations that seem to re-establish the possibility of a mind-independent ontology at the quantum level. We will show that even such ontological interpretations contain novel, non-classical features, which require them to give a special role to “phenomena” or “appearances”, a role not encountered in classical physics. We will conclude that while ontological interpretations of quantum theory are possible, quantum theory implies the need of a certain kind of epoche even for this type of interpretations. While different from the epoche connected to phenomenological description, the “quantum epoche” nevertheless points to a potentially interesting parallel between phenomenology and quantum philosophy. (shrink)
Suppose that God exists, and that God does not violate the laws of nature he created for the world. God can nevertheless act in the world, by acting at the indeterministic quantum level. This chapter makes two specific points about God’s quantum action. First, on some ways of understanding quantum mechanics (specifically, the GRW theory, and the associated Continuous Spontaneous Localization theories), God’s actions are almost unlimited, contrary to those who say that God would be quite constrained (...) in his action, if he only acted at the indeterministic quantum level. Second, on these ways of understanding quantum mechanics, God’s actions in the world need not be episodic, contrary to what for example John Polkinghorne has claimed about God’s quantum action. This discussion builds on discussions by Al Plantinga about noninterventionist special divine action. (shrink)
Bohm and Hiley suggest that a certain new type of active information plays a key objective role in quantum processes. This paper discusses the implications of this suggestion to our understanding of the relation between the mental and the physical aspects of reality.
Ever since the early days of quantum mechanics it has been suggested that consciousness could be linked to the collapse of the wave function. However, no detailed account of such an interplay is usually provided. In this paper we present an objective collapse model where the collapse operator depends on integrated information, which has been argued to measure consciousness. By doing so, we construct an empirically adequate scheme in which superpositions of conscious states are dynamically suppressed. Unlike other proposals (...) in which “consciousness causes the collapse of the wave function,” our model is fully consistent with a materialistic view of the world and does not require the postulation of entities suspicious of laying outside of the quantum realm. (shrink)
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