Background and Question

Here's something I was wondering: The (known) laws of physics can be formulated in such a way that one say: "initial condition" + "laws of physics" gives us a "final solution." I am thinking of something along the lines of an initial value problem (if the law is a partial differential equation) or Born rule (where the "final solution" is not unique).

My question is this is there any line of argument in philosophy which argues for the removal of the distinction between the "initial condition" and the "laws of physics."

An argument effectively doing this by saying the space (Venn diagram) of initial values is a point. If any other other values are inserted then the law breaks down (we get an unacceptable solution for example: divergent solutions)

P.S: I have a degree in physics not in philosophy. I hope this is an acceptable question?

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to Philosophy SE. Yes, this is the kind of well articulated, motivated and specific question that we are looking for. See Laws and Initial Conditions by Frisch:"I discuss two case studies from classical electrodynamics challenging the distinction between laws that delineate physically possible words and initial conditions".
    – Conifold
    Sep 20, 2019 at 5:25
  • 1
    @Conifold Your link gave a 404 error.I googled the quoted words and found the paper. Yes, this is what I was looking for. Here's the link I used: pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bf43/… Sep 20, 2019 at 6:10
  • Lee Smolin in his musing about temporality argues that in cosmology the distinction does not make sense, e.g.*the absolute separation of laws and initial conditions, and thus of laws and states, is tied to the empirical context of studying small subsystems of the universe*. He is certainly not the first but a quick look at his views might be of interest; the book or at least bu.edu/cphs/files/2013/01/…
    – sand1
    Sep 20, 2019 at 10:33
  • General relativity is a theory that in its most general form isn't really about taking initial conditions and evolving them forward, as seen for example by the fact that you can have spacetimes that respect the field equations but involve closed timelike curves. If you think of the mathematical space of all possible Lorentzian manifolds with matter/energy fields defined on them, the equations just pick out a subset which respect the field equations at all points.
    – Hypnosifl
    Sep 20, 2019 at 14:02
  • @Hypnosifl I don't think that is true. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… . It is simply a very difficult initial value problem. Sep 20, 2019 at 14:07


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