Questions tagged [philosophy-of-physics]

If your question is more physics and less philosophy, consider asking it on Physics.SE (possibly with the soft-question tag).

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9 answers
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What is a system?

Informally, a system of the kind I'm asking about is an arrangement of physical components that interact causally with each other and with an external environment. For example: a pendulum, a car, a ...
2 votes
2 answers
580 views

How could we have defined time, had matter in our universe not been atomic?

A thought occurred reflecting upon SI and its system of units. The definition of the unit meter (the distance a light beam in a vacuum travels in 1/299,792,458 of a second) is a perfect definition of ...
9 votes
8 answers
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Do distant stars still exist or are they just images?

This question might sound quite odd and is a mix of philosophy and physics. Suppose we observe a star that is 50 million lightyears away, and suppose it is a type of star that has a lifespan of only ...
2 votes
2 answers
86 views

Does space behave like a logical operator that applies rules to its elements?

I am asking due to being inspired by the following: Consider a particle system with uniform motion in vacuum not sensitive towards fluctuations, such that classical mechanics applies. Now, consider ...
3 votes
1 answer
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Under what conditions could all of reality be reduced to a formal system?

It would be very convenient if we had, at least non-constructively, a correspondent formal system that could reproduce any causal event within the universe. The strength would be that naturalism would ...
1 vote
3 answers
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What system of physics should be used for the subset of reality that is much slower than light, in weak gravity fields, around the scale of 1m?

Before you say "Newtonian mechanics", the question is: how do physicists know that Newtonian mechanics doesn't operate on broken logic? And not just with regards to extreme cases (1 nm ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Is it there any specific and well known continuous/analog alternative to Wheeler's discrete "It from Bit"?

Physicist John A Wheeler (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Archibald_Wheeler) suggested the concept of "law without law" and "it from bit" which suggested that the universe did not have any laws ...
2 votes
10 answers
2k views

How many dimensions does time have?

As phrased in the title, How many dimensions does time have? If one considers time by itself (in isolation from other putative phenomena such as space or spacetime), what can be said about the ...
3 votes
3 answers
203 views

What did Kant mean by "pure physics"?

Early in the Prolegomena, Kant says that both pure mathematics and pure physics are examples of a priori cognition. What exactly did he mean by "pure physics"?
2 votes
5 answers
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Is causality perpetual? [closed]

Suppose causality were not perpetual, then at some point, it must have been created. Then there was a process that constructed it, i.e. a causal process. But we assumed absence of any causality. ...
6 votes
8 answers
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Is it theoretically possible for a bottomless pits to exist in a finite universe?

Assuming that our universe is finite, is it still theoretically possible to have a bottomless pit? This all really depends on the definition of bottomless pit. I don't know that I can accurately ...
2 votes
2 answers
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Are there any sources linking Schopenhauerian metaphysics (will as thing-in-itself) with our contemporary understanding of physics?

I'm especially interested if there are any attempts at reconciling Schopenhauer's metaphysical will with the seeming indeterministic nature of quantum physics. Thank you.
1 vote
2 answers
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What is the definition of nothingness?

I am asking this question because I read Lawrence Krauss's book "A Universe from Nothing". I have also read a lot of criticism of that book, saying that Krauss's "nothingness" is ...
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0 answers
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Does necessitarianism imply that every true statement about the physical world is a law of physics?

I am someone who believes that nothing is possible except the actual. In my view, all non-actual possible statements are false. So, for example, the statements "Unicorns could have evolved on ...
4 votes
3 answers
232 views

What does "fundamental" mean?

Electrons and photons are fundamental, while chairs and tables are not. Some theories of physics also state that space or time or both, are not fundamental. But what does that mean, "fundamental&...
2 votes
3 answers
256 views

Metaphysical theories for why physics has the structure it has

The laws of physics have an extremely rich structure. The more fundamental you go, the more complex it becomes (e.g. Quantum Mechanics is more complex (no pun) than Newtonian mechanics). This ...
1 vote
6 answers
126 views

Does Multi-World Interpretation really eliminate randomness in quantum mechanics?

As I understood it, the Multi World Interpretation (MWI) was meant to avoid the problem of resorting to randomness, by replacing the random wavefunction collapse in Copenhagen Interpretation with ...
4 votes
2 answers
106 views

Tautological Many Worlds?

this is my first question here so I hope I'm following the guidelines correctly. I recently found a relatively obscure physicist/philosopher who asserts that the concept of Many Worlds is ...
0 votes
4 answers
270 views

How touch occurs in a simulation hypothesis or in a brain hypothesis in a vat?

The point is that it doesn't matter whether these hypothesis are correct or not. The only thing that worries me is how the touch happens if in the real world it is the interaction of atoms (in ...
6 votes
3 answers
260 views

What kind of philosophy of the foundations of physics can there be?

I'm currently trying to read into topos foundations for theories of physics and I wonder if we are really able to give a philosophical foundation for what a possible future theory of physics should ...
2 votes
2 answers
118 views

Are information, matter and energy improper concepts?

In Proper and Improper concepts (1927) Carnap argued for the distinction between proper concepts (the ones that are explicitly defined) ”It is essential to a proper concept that for any object it is ...
8 votes
5 answers
649 views

Falsifiability of Assumptions

Karl Popper maintained that empirical sciences should be based on the principle of falsifiability rather than verifiability for no amount of observations can guarantee veracity but a single ...
5 votes
1 answer
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Are there similar theory to Nikolay Bugaev's idea of "emergent morality"?

I need someone's insight to put into perspective the thoughts of an author I discovered only recently. Although this author's idea seems very intuitive - the kind of idea you might have as a child or ...
11 votes
15 answers
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Can Mathematics Fully Describe the Universe?

To what extent mathematics can capture all physical phenomena? Drawing an analogy from computer science: finite automata can handle regular expressions (does "(([a-z]))" match "((h))&...
5 votes
4 answers
304 views

Must physics obey logic?

Must all physical theories conform to the laws of logic, such as being self-consistent? I am asking this because I once had an argument with a friend regarding the physics of time travel. I argued ...
3 votes
2 answers
125 views

Question about Boltzmann Brain?

If all the memories contained within a Boltzmann brain were hypothetical, so would be the physical laws that enable its very existence; therefore, a Boltzmann brain wouldn't be able to explain itself?
2 votes
5 answers
249 views

Does quantum mechanics rule out the principle of sufficient reason?

The Principle of Sufficient Reason is a philosophical principle stipulating that everything must have a reason, cause, or ground. My question is: does quantum mechanics serve as evidence against it as ...
4 votes
7 answers
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Determinism vs prediction

What is the difference between determinism and predictable. I have heard classical mechanics is both predictable and deterministic , chaos theory is deterministic but unpredictable , quantum mechanics ...
0 votes
2 answers
122 views

Is human thought itself a fundamental force?

To begin with, as far as I understand, there are four well accepted forces of nature: Gravity Weak interaction Strong interaction Electromagnetism Now, these forces are all characterized by changing ...
2 votes
5 answers
261 views

How to explain the cosmic expansion? [closed]

We know from astrophysics that the cosmos expands, i.e. that all galaxies recede from each other. This fact is confirmed by observation. It can also be obtained as a solution of the Einstein equations....
1 vote
3 answers
124 views

Is it possible to simulate a reality like ours using other logic than classical logic?

Are there alternative logical systems that could serve as a foundation for simulating a reality similar to ours, given that non-classical logics such as paraconsistent logic, while applicable in ...
2 votes
1 answer
106 views

Books on the philosophy of quantum mechanics

As the title says, I am looking for books on the philosophy of quantum mechanics; more specifically on ontology and or epistemolgy. So far I've found Tim Maudlin's Philosophy of Physics: Quantum ...
3 votes
2 answers
254 views

Quantum probability theory and the idea of a "truth-value sphere"

A while ago I asked a question about using imaginary numbers as truth-values for a peculiar concept known as "the square root of negation"; I just found out that apparently this concept is ...
4 votes
3 answers
163 views

Positivism in search for truth

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positivism The notion that scientific theories must be tested experimentally is fundamental to the doctrine of positivism, which also requires that theories must always ...
6 votes
1 answer
499 views

Platonism in modern philosophy of physics: Stephen Wolfram and Max Tegmark ideas

Recently, Stephen Wolfram wrote an interesting article about his proposed relationship between maths and physics (https://writings.stephenwolfram.com/2022/03/the-physicalization-of-metamathematics-and-...
4 votes
0 answers
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What kind of physical complexity is related to the axiom of regularity for sets?

Augenstein's exploration in Links between physics and set theory mentions Ulam relating complexity and regularity: There are several sources for appreciating Ulam’s ideas and interests. A collection ...
3 votes
1 answer
270 views

Causation in physics

Electromagnetic radiation phenomena exhibit a temporal asymmetry: we observe radiation coherently diverging from a radiating source, such the light emitted by a star, but we do not observe radiation ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Can we make nontrivial predictions about the potential future usefulness of specific forms of math, or is it too easy to manipulate math?

This question is motivated by something from the set-theorist Hugh Woodin, a prediction he has made and styled as empirical, according to which a subtheory that he uses will not be shown inconsistent ...
2 votes
0 answers
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Models and theories following Cartwright

Nancy Cartwright introduced an interesting distinction in the context of her study of the history of the evolution of our understanding of superconductivity. She emphasized the distinction between ...
4 votes
3 answers
341 views

Under metaphysical naturalism, does everything boil down to Physics?

If metaphysical naturalism is true, would that mean that Physics is the ultimate discipline that can sufficiently explain everything, and that all other disciplines, including Chemistry, Biology, ...
1 vote
1 answer
212 views

Where does the canon event theory of identity formation come from?

There is an idea in the new Spider-man movie Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, where spider-men through different dimensions have to deal with inter-dimensional problems. In it, one critical part ...
4 votes
5 answers
453 views

About Wigner's view on the relation between mathematics and physics?

Physicist Eugene Wigner argued that the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it ...
3 votes
3 answers
277 views

The relationship between energy and information

I read that the Inuit consider the caribou and the wolf to be complimentary parts of an inclusive, larger entity. I am curious whether it is useful to view the relationship between energy and ...
4 votes
4 answers
376 views

What would happen if the universe had no global symmetries and conservation laws?

I am asking this question in this site as it involves some philosophy of physics... I am trying to understand what would happen to the universe if it had no global symmetries (including those that ...
3 votes
4 answers
261 views

Heisenberg, Copenhagen and probability in QM

My question is about The Copenhagen interpretation of QM. I am confused about what entities this interpretation of QM presupposes. Heisenberg says that quantum states represent the knowledge an ...
1 vote
1 answer
238 views

Time as a transition from a whole which is constitutable by each of many sets of parts to the set of parts that generates the shortest path?

Summary: Any entity E which is constituted by extrinsically indiscernible parts A and B remains extrinsically the same, in all stages of the change, even if A changes to B and B to A (concurrently). ...
2 votes
4 answers
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Is there a level at which energy and matter are indistinguishable?; viz. can space exist without perception?

My larger question is this: "Can (physical) space exist without perception?" I'm especially interested in a smaller question that I believe addresses the larger question, which is: "Is ...
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

What do Philosophers think about the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics?

One of the interpretations of quantum mechanics is the Many Worlds Interpretation which basically states that the universe as a whole develops like an unobserved quantum system, and any observation ...
4 votes
4 answers
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Is it possible for the universe to be deterministic at one level, but not at a higher level?

I know that it is certainly possible for the universe to be stochastic at one level, but deterministic at a higher level. For example, I have read that while quantum mechanics is a stochastic theory, ...
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3 answers
140 views

Is thermodynamics science? [closed]

Areas of science are defined by what they study. Electromagnetism studies electric / magnetic forces, astronomy studies stars etc. The thing studied by thermodynamics is entropy. What is interesting ...

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