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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925 views

What is the philosophical origin of waves?

It's a truth universally acknowledged that a theory in possession of the notion of atoms founds itself in the atomos theorised by Democritus et al. For example the corpuscules of Gassendi, Hobbes and ...
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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 ...
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Did the past occur or is it occurring relatively, and will the future occur or is it occurring relatively?

Did the day I was born occur already, or is it occurring relatively to me in the past? Will the day I die occur or is it occurring relatively to me in the future? I know that some physicists are ...
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Why is there a (modern) debate between absolutists and relativists in (neo-)Newtonian spacetime? [closed]

I'm reading "Time and Space" by Dainton, and it gives a lengthy discussion on the different views on Newtonian and neo-Newtonian spacetime, arguing that absolutists and relativists (or ...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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95 views

Is Fourier transform a human made tool or an act of nature? [duplicate]

I am a PhD students in physics, and my father is a Math researcher. One time, I asked him "Doesn't the fact that we can use math to explain things that happen in front of us, tell us that math is ...
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Is there a difference between 'exists' and 'theoretically possible'?

For the purpose of this questions let's assume that the physics of our universe can be fully described by a complete non-contradictory theory (i.e. that theory of everything exists). Then our universe ...
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Are some mathematical truths contingent on the laws of physics?

Are there at least some mathematical truths that would have been different had the laws of physics been different? Probably most mathematical truths would not change, but are there some that would? Or ...
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386 views

Would this experiment establish whether wave function collapse is caused by consciousness?

I'm currently writing an article on the philosophy of physics. Part of the article involves an experiment which would substantiate whether or not consciousness causes wave function collapse. Many ...
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Do really all mental states exist in some universe according to Many-Minds Interpretation?

According to the Many Minds interpretation of quantum mechanics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-minds_interpretation), the distinction between worlds in the Many Worlds interpretation should be ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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What's the difference between logical modalities and physical modalities?

I am just wondering what's the difference between the two. I would say that there is something different, but honestly I can't define what it is exactly. What do you think?
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Can the observer be the observed?

As a supplement to this question as to whether particles can be observers, supposing that the answer is yes. One could suppose a setup where particle A is observing particle B, but what to stop us ...
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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 ...
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604 views

Why are the laws of nature 'always and everywhere the same'?

Spinoza wrote in his Ethics that: the laws and rules of Nature…are always and everywhere the same This so as to deny a categorical difference between man and nature; Spinoza affirms that man is ...
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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 ...
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Do wholes tell us what the parts are?

According to one reading of the atomic hypothesis it is parts that are fundamental and they tell us what wholes are, and in fact, what wholes are possible. For example: A tree is made up of roots, ...
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Why is there no absolute rest?

It's clear and evident that no particular place in space is special, and nor any particular direction. It is also true (ignoring relativity) that there is no absolute rest; we cannot determine ...
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Theory of Everything: simple but repetitive or complicated by efficient?

Which of the following criteria is more persuasive for choosing a Theory Of Everything: A very simple theory that requires an enormous amount of calculation to compute the universe (e.g. 10^(10^(10^(....
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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 ...
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1answer
216 views

Is probability in classical physics always bayesian?

I am wondering how probability is intended in classical physics. I have read a number of articles where it is said that probability in classical physics is generally intended in subjectivist terms as ...
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What exactly is Time and Space? [closed]

Question description so that anyone can evaluate and answer accordingly I don't know what is the formal process for a theory to get accepted by the science community, please guide me on how to proceed ...
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5answers
975 views

Can “nothing” have size?

If "nothing" is encapsulated by "something", does this imply it has size? For example; imagine I have a 1 meter by 1 meter by 1 meter box which encloses a complete vacuum. Does the vacuum have a size ...
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Time as a physical dimension

What is the intuition behind time being a physical dimension? I read the phrase "in cosmology terms, far away means long ago" somewhere and I got to thinking what if time is an emergent property of ...
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1answer
144 views

Why is time travel not possible at all?

Time: It is a mathematical dimension to measure the change of state (any motion) of Existence (includes universe/multiverse/entire creation). In order to travel in Time, one has to change the state of ...
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239 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 ...
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Has any physicist advocate for both Putnam's thesis of “Logic is Empirical” and the Multiverse?

Philosopher Hilary Putnam proposed a very interesting thesis 1, advocating that Logic itself may be empirical. I have found another interesting article 2 by the physicist Matthew S Leifer where he ...
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Mathematical Analyticity Within Context of Physical Theory [closed]

Postulate: Mathematics is constructed. We construct the syntax, grammar and assign semantics to mathematical statements artificially. Lemma: There is no constraint on what constructed mathematical ...
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100 views

Is information the foundation of reality? [closed]

More and more philosophers and scientists speculate that the basis of reality could be information, however there is something that does not come back to me in this line of reasoning: information is a ...
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Validity of physical laws and observation

I am placing this question on philosophy stack exchange because a mathematician wouldn't care, and a physicist would be extremely insulted. Consider Newton's Law F=ma. First, I am observing this as ...
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Is the number of universes finite, countably infinite or uncountably infinite (and what size of uncountable if so)?

Assuming that the alternative universe theory is correct, how many alternate universes are there? From my understanding an alternate universe "pops up" whenever a particle goes from being in an ...
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1answer
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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") ...
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Is 'collapse of the quantum state' conceptually misnamed?

Take the description of the collapse in Nature Loves to Hide, by physicist Shimon Malin: In this chapter we zero in on the mystery at the heart of Quantum Mechanics. 'The collapse of the quantum ...
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Non-Computability And Randomnes

I once thought (tweeted) that physics is 'explaining the explainable (computable) part of the universe' as the rest can be seen as random. Now I'm not sure about this anymore. The simplest example ...
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How/Why is the explanation/prediction of physical phenomena not deductive?

Why is the explanation of the triboelectric effect or the electrostatic effect(indicative examples) not deductive? How so we have a set of premises and from them follows the conclusion which is what ...
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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 ...
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Axiomatic system and symbolic, formal, mathematical language

Is there any need for axiomatic systems to be in a symbolic, formal, mathematical language? Equivalently is there any prohibition of axioms in axiomatic systems being in natural language? In other ...
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Methodological universalities in Physics

Is there any methodological characteristic universal in Physics? Even if some branches of Physics lose their reproducibility, their experimental testing, their deterministic predictivity isn't some ...
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334 views

Relation of reproducibility and the lack of contigencies with the scientific method

What is the relation of reproducibility and the lack of contigencies with the scientific method? Quantum mechanics and Statistical physics/mechanics are vurnerable/suspectible to contigencies. We ...
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129 views

Why Are Physical Observations Mathematical?

Why does Newton's law of gravitiation look the way it does? Why is the Gravitiational Consntant this specific value? Why do Maxwell's Equations look the way they do? Why is it that abstract quantities ...
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If Newton's Principia / similar does not impose a rigid approach, then is physics rigorous?

I read from the Wikipedia site regarding the concept "paradigm" that: The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy attributes the following description of the term to Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of ...
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Would it be trivial to think the physical as those entities which are necessary for a maximally complete physics?

I've been studying physicalism for a presentation I'll be doing on Shelly Kagan's book Death. One of the slides is on its problems, and one of those problems is that we don't have a clear definition ...
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Inconsistency of Classical Electrodynamics

What is the status of the critique of Mathias Frisch's on the consistency of Classical Electrodynamics? And what exactly is his claim in succinct answer? Thanks!
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Physical correlates of consciousness

The term neural correlates of consciousness is well established (~ 277,000 Google results, one Wikipedia article), but I'd like to ask for more general physical correlates of consciousness (~ 6,000 ...
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207 views

Did Stephen Hawking think that logic is contingent on physics?

According to this book*: Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science, it says that Stephen Hawking thought that logic was contingent on physics, i.e that logic depends on the physics of ...
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Why is it not necessary to to tell what force is?

In his book, "Science and Hypothesis" on page no. 98, Henri Poincaré write on subject of defining force: [.....When we say force is the cause of motion, we are talking metaphysics; and this ...
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What are some arguments against the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment?

I read this article about how this guy in Switzerland did an experiment that he thought proved the Simulation Hypothesis of reality (link: http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.1847). I have also been reading ...
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Axioms in science and the scientific method

Do axioms exist in the scientific method like in physics, chemistry, biology, …? E.g. Ockham's Razor for picking the best theory – is it an axiom? Another example is that science gathers data, ...
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How do you resolve the issue: logically reasoning about 'god' (or even physics; mathematics) when sometimes logic is not valid or is partially broken?

Granted, the start of the following discussion may use some common everyday common sense logic, and therefore may not be valid in some new paradigm. However, the question is, in the face of Russel's ...

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