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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3answers
217 views

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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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 ...
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1answer
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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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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 Something just like Russell's Analysis of Matter but not horrid out of date.
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6answers
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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 ...
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3answers
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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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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 ...
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5answers
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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 ...
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4answers
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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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3answers
342 views

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 ...
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3answers
613 views

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 ...
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12answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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10answers
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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" ...
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5answers
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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......
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2answers
473 views

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 ...
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249 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 ...
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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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9answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
474 views

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" ...
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4answers
580 views

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 ...
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1answer
100 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 ...
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1answer
720 views

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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
215 views

What is the entropy of the universe at the time of the Big Bang? [closed]

High entropy generally means high disorder; and low entropy low disorder; the two paradigmatic cases that illustrate these two possibilities is a gas, for the first, and a crystal for the second. ...
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685 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 ...
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1answer
392 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 ...
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2answers
298 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 ...
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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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121 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."...
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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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3answers
523 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 ...
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5answers
365 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?
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
128 views

Can we have a theory of the colour blue in a Popperian sense?

Saussure in his theory of signs declared that there was no necessary connection between the semantic value of a word and its phonetic sign: the sign 'dog' signifies the physical dog, but in principle (...
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45 views

Can a priori principles be applied to deduce 'Principal Bundles' as principles in Modern Physics?

Kant supplied a priori arguments for Newtonian Physics in his Metaphysics of Natural Science Has something similar been done for Modern Physics; which in its geometrical intepretation are concieved ...
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2answers
343 views

Can the Void have Being?

On the face of it no; and affirmed by Parmenides as that what is not, is not. However, consider a particle in spacetime with no forces acting on it: thus it moves in a straight line (geodesic) when ...
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1answer
114 views

Is Buridan's impetus the same as velocity in Aristotle?

According to the SEP Buridan was the first to develop the physical motion of impetus: a force applied for a certain time; it is silent, however on just where and how Buridan took this notion - ...
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5answers
229 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 ...
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1answer
85 views

What does Weyl mean by this remark?

In the Philosophy of Mathematics & Physics, Weyl writes: The coordinate system is, as it were, the residue of the annhilation of the ego. What does he mean by this?
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Is the Universe real or complex? [closed]

A.R. Estakhr says that in the real world nothing can move faster than the speed of light. Well, he is not alone in this regard, and Einstein had similar views. But he goes on to say, "If something ...
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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 ...