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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Is the idea of a causal chain physical (or even scientific)?

I am aware that the idea is venerable, going back through Lucretius to the Stoics and Epicurus, and even to Aristotle with his prime mover argument. But isn't this a pre-scientific notion? The ...
Willie Betmore's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
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Is Aristotle's resolution of Zeno's paradoxes vindicated by motion in the intuitionistic continuum?

In Physics VIII.8, Aristotle refers to his usual resolution of Zeno's paradox of motion: We should make the same response to anyone who uses Zeno's argument to ask whether it is always necessary to ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
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3 answers
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Why is the universe governed by very few laws of high generality instead of lots of particular ones?

The universe has a very wide variety of phenomena. However, there is not, similarly, a zoo of physical laws. Instead, it appears that the universe is governed by a small number of laws that are valid ...
someone_else's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
553 views

Are mathematical suppositions of physical theories determined uniquely according to Aristotle and Plato?

Does mathematics apply to physics in one way or multiple ways? What do Aristotle and Plato think? It would seem that Aristotle thinks mathematics can be applied to physics in one way only because, ...
Geremia's user avatar
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How is existence in presentism reconciled with relativity of simultaneity?

There is a famous question by Einstein which was reported by his biographer, the physicist Abraham Pais, and which expresses his concern with quantum physics: We often discussed his notions on ...
nir's user avatar
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What books offer a philosophical interpretation of contemporary physics?

What books which offer a philosophical interpretation of contemporary physics? Something just like Russell's Analysis of Matter but not horrid out of date.
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4 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
vengaq's user avatar
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Presentism and simultaneity

Presentism is the position that all that exists, exists in the present. Though one can speak of the past, and of events in the past, strictly speaking (in this position), there is no temporal event ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
7 votes
5 answers
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How do quantum-mechanical worlds relate to possible worlds?

I am not really familiar with the metaphysics of the "worlds" from the Many Worlds Interpretation of QM. How do these worlds relate to possible worlds in the Lewisian sense? Lewis wrote a short piece ...
Dennis's user avatar
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Are There Alternatives to Determinism and Stochasticism?

From my physicist's point of view, there are basically two ways of seeing the world: The world can be fundamentally deterministic or fundamentally stochastic (see also indeterminism). I believe that ...
The Ledge's user avatar
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How do we learn math and science?

I was wondering how we actually learn math and science (physics). Some people say that it is important to "understand" the formulas/equations. However, if anyone were asked what 5 divided by ...
dts's user avatar
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One big theory of Everything (TOE) or multiple "domain specific" theories?

It's common to hear that physicists are trying to find a Theory of everything (TOE). We "logically" consider the more elegant / concise theory as true ... because beauty is thruth ... or is it ? What ...
kondor's user avatar
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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 ...
quanity's user avatar
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4 votes
4 answers
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Physics, Theoretical Understanding and the Limits of Human Knowledge/Understanding

During an interview with Discover magazine, Roger Penrose makes the claim that a lot of the most theoretical physics, a la the physical theories that try to account for the discrepancies and ...
Erik G.'s user avatar
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How can one justify Newton's third law?

In one sense it is justified by the overall success if Newtonian Mechanics; still, one can ask are there arguments that can justify it from other principles; ie principle that are * a priori* in ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
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Defining the universe

The etymology of the word universe comes from the Latin words uni, meaning one, and versus, meaning turn and is attested from Late Middle English. It suggests that the universe is 'mortal', having a ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
34 votes
12 answers
11k views

Why is the complex number an integral part of physical reality?

In modern physics, the quantum wave distribution function necessarily uses complex numbers to represent itself. If physics defines the physical reality, then what we are saying by the statement above ...
Dheeraj Verma's user avatar
14 votes
10 answers
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Interpretation of the butterfly effect

It is said that in certain circumstances, a tiny change, like the flap of a butterfly's wings, can lead to enormous changes, like a tornado somewhere. However, it should be clarified what "change" ...
asmani's user avatar
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Are infinities in physics (or in any other materalist philosophy) actually possible?

Aristotle made a distinction between infinities that were in potential (dunamis) and in actuality (energia); and stated that actual infinities did not obtain in the physical world. This is the basis ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
11 votes
9 answers
5k views

Does Popper's theory of falsification apply to mathematics?

Mathematics is generally & popularly judged a science in the basic duality: science - humanities. As enemies and collaborationists. The border heavily & fiercely policed. However, it seems to ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
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 ...
celtschk's user avatar
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A distinction between knowledge of laws of physics and the actual laws

What exactly is a law of physics? Suppose, for an hypothetical example, that high-energy light travels ever-so-faster than low-energy light. Then it would turn out that in fact light does not always ...
user107952's user avatar
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Is the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics philosophically untenable?

I saw this: http://aeon.co/essays/is-the-many-worlds-hypothesis-just-a-fantasy In this article the author raises a number of intriguing philosophical challenges against the so-called "many worlds" ...
The_Sympathizer's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
254 views

Removal of the distinction between the "initial condition" and the "laws of physics"?

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."...
More Anonymous's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
937 views

What is the relation between calculus and Aristotle's view of infinite divisibility?

According to an article by Rowan, Aristotle very practically, pointed out that there was a threshold to get something moving when there is resistance to friction: 'one man cannot move a ship' as ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
5 votes
5 answers
289 views

Is identity an emergent concept?

In the world in which we live, a chair remains a chair - it does not turn into a table; and if there were two chairs in this room, I could distinguish one from the other and I would have no trouble in ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
466 views

Are there examples of when verificationism doesn't hold in Physics?

Are there examples of when verificationism doesn't hold in the context of Physics? I intend to relate this to some discussion of Einstein's use of verificationism to discard Ether in the magnet ...
Maths's user avatar
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2 answers
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On physical existence. Do virtual particles of QFT exist?

Existence is a polysemic and difficult word to define. Almost certainly numbers (and other well-defined mathematical objects) exist in a different way than a real physical object (the chair I sit in, ...
Davius's user avatar
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3 answers
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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 ...
quanity's user avatar
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Is potential real?

It might be an odd question to some, but to me it strikes quite obviously as something I should've asked a long time ago :-) In physics, potential energy stands for the energy that could be realized ...
Yechiam Weiss's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
440 views

What is the relevance of applicability to the natural sciences in pure mathematics?

I think I am coming to a good, new understanding of the relationship of pure mathematics to the natural sciences. A major concern of mine is just how reliable is rigorous (characteristically "pure") ...
Richard Haney's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
626 views

Max Tegmark's Mathematical Universe

Max Tegmark believes the universe to be a mathematical structure, and he further claims any mathematical structure with self-aware substructure will perceive itself in a physical world. What exactly ...
Bertrand Wittgenstein's Ghost's user avatar
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, ...
Mark's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
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Have David Wolpert's findings really "slammed the door" on scientific determinism?

I recently read an article describing how mathematician/physicist David Wolpert's research closed the door on scientific determinism. I have huge doubts about the implied conclusion, considering the ...
Pete1187's user avatar
  • 537
4 votes
5 answers
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Is there a theory of time consistent with Heraclitus?

Heraclitus is recorded as saying: Upon those who step into the same river, different and again different waters flow (Arius Didymus, Dox. Gr.) It is not possible to step twice into the same river......
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
406 views

Is a theory of physics possible with no constants?

The Standard Model of Physics has a number of constants. Obviously the fewer the better - simply in terms of there being less fundamentally inexplicable constants to explain. It seems to me, in as ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
316 views

Physics, "the beginning of time" and common sense

If we accept the result of big-bang theory that time does not indefinitely extend back in the past, how can this result be smoothly integrated with the common-sense view that for every time-instant ...
exp8j's user avatar
  • 341
3 votes
2 answers
263 views

Can physics talk about non-physical entities/concepts, and if not which academic department does?

Of course, for this question the physical itself needs to be defined; I'll define it simply as the popular use of it today in physics - either an actual, material substance, or a physical concept such ...
Yechiam Weiss's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
183 views

How to argue for physical continuity, positivistically?

Consider the following quote from Dirac's book, The Principles of Quantum Mechanics (4th ed., p. 36): When we measure a real dynamical variable ξ, the disturbance involved in the act of measurement ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
2 votes
5 answers
252 views

Can space be distorted without things that occupy the space being distorted?

Can space be distorted without things that occupy the space being distorted? I mean it is whether in reality or imagination?
manpower's user avatar
2 votes
5 answers
727 views

Does the thermodynamic arrow of time really solve the arrow of time question?

First recalling here that physical time is not time as understood by our Sensability & Intuition - the proper sense of time; we also recall that famously Newtonian or Einsteinian Physics do not ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
86 views

Extending Leibniz’s Relational Philosophy of Physics from Bodies to Fields

Leibniz stated: "Thus committed to maintaining that if there were nothing more to motion than relative change of position, then, since motion could be ascribed with equal right to, say, Train A ...
More Anonymous's user avatar
2 votes
5 answers
248 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 ...
thinkingman's user avatar
2 votes
5 answers
543 views

How can our actions be regarded as free if they are causally determined?

After all, soft determinists are determinists, so they believe that our actions are causally determined. How can our actions be regarded as free if they are causally determined?
John Doe's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
286 views

Isn't Mind–body dualism the result of a Complex Universe?

Mind–body dualism, or mind–body duality, is a view in the philosophy of mind that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are distinct and separable. Isn't ...
The Last Jedi's user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
597 views

Are there necessary truths in physical theories, more or less strictly speaking?

There are such things as mathematically necessary truths: 1=1, say; and logically neccessary truths: the law of modus ponens, say. But can there be one in physics? In Lewis's plural worlds where ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
186 views

Do scalar fields satisfy Kant's indefinitely-divisible matter thesis?

So Kant concluded vs. the Second Antinomy that matter is indefinitely divisible, so he would have taken issue with the idea that the Planck scale is the absolute limit, here. At first, I was thinking ...
Kristian Berry's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
74 views

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 ...
Kristian Berry's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
261 views

Zeno and the denial of plurality [closed]

Zeno is well-known as the storyteller of Achilles and the Tortoise and how the tortoise never catches Achilles; which is against our experience; the question of how to square these two notions ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
1 vote
5 answers
368 views

A comprehensive introduction to relationship between math and experience

I am a mathematician with interest in physics and pure logic and exists one problem: the connection between math and physics. Math concerned on pure universal truths and physics concerned on ...
Alejandro Hernandez Corona's user avatar