35 votes

We know Classical Mechanics is wrong. But can we also say every other theory is wrong except the Theory of Everything?

Asimov's "The Relativity of Wrong" has a lot to say about this. John, when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical, they were wrong. ...
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  • 6,297
33 votes

Interpretation of the butterfly effect

I think you might be confusing determinism with what’s called ‘chaos.’ Chaotic systems are deterministic, nonlinear systems, which are characterized as ‘chaotic’ because of their extreme sensitivity ...
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  • 896
33 votes

We know Classical Mechanics is wrong. But can we also say every other theory is wrong except the Theory of Everything?

It is not a coincidence that you ask this here at philosophy SE, and not over at physics: The vast majority of physicists would simply reject your question and readily admit that their theories are ...
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22 votes

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

The short answer: Your premise is not correct. Quantum Mechanics is not necessarily complex-valued. Here is a primer from Physics.SE if you are solid on the math. An explanation that is light on math:...
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  • 726
19 votes
Accepted

What are some arguments against the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment?

Your question is about metaphysical realism and skepticism. There are indeed radical sceptic arguments against realism such as Descartes's demon, brain in a vat or the idea that one is actually ...
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18 votes

Interpretation of the butterfly effect

You have clarified that you understand some descriptions of physics are about hypothetical well-isolated systems with different initial states. However, when it comes to the Butterfly Effect you ...
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15 votes

Interpretation of the butterfly effect

The butterfly effect is formally captured mathematically. Consider a chaotic system (such as a mathematical equation of the weather) and an initial state. If we use those equations, we can calculate ...
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9 votes
Accepted

Is it theoretically possible for a bottomless pits to exist in a finite universe?

A universe having a finite volume can be unbounded in length and have unbounded cross-sectional area. The example I have in mind is mathematical, not physical. It's called Gabriel's Horn. It's a ...
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  • 2,871
9 votes

Is there "empirical" distance without "mathematical" distance?

The mathematical concept of distance is an abstraction of the physical experience of distance. As such, we can use the mathematical concept to discuss 'distance' between things that are non-physical ...
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  • 13.5k
8 votes

Are infinities in physics (or in any other materalist philosophy) actually possible?

Most physicists don't accept infinities for a very obvious reason: such infinite physical objects are not quantifiable! That is, we can't measure them or even prove that they are infinite. Through ...
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  • 325
8 votes

Interpretation of the butterfly effect

The "butterfly effect" appears to be a modern variant of the ancient philosophical axiom "Parvus error in principiis, magnus in conclusionibus" or "Parvus error in principio, magnus est in fine": A ...
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  • 7,248
8 votes

Do naturalists think that only microscopic physical things exist?

The view OP is alluding to is called mereological nihilism (mereology is a branch of metaphysics that studies relations between parts and wholes). It is the view that only "simples" (...
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  • 40.7k
8 votes

A distinction between knowledge of laws of physics and the actual laws

The physicist and historian and philosopher of physics Pierre Duhem defines—in Aim & Structure of Physical Theory pt. 2, ch. 5 ("Physical Law"), p. 168—a physical law as a symbolic ...
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  • 7,248
8 votes

What is meant by a more "general" theory?

In physics theory B is more general than theory A, if B explains all results which A explains and some additional results. According to this definition Special Relativity is more general than Newton’s ...
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  • 20.5k
8 votes

Is there "empirical" distance without "mathematical" distance?

Are formal notions our best models of that experience of what we see with a ruler, or can we go further by saying that they are the same thing? Many people used to believe that empirical distance ...
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  • 883
7 votes
Accepted

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

Strictly speaking there are no absolute necessities in physics. But strictly speaking there are no absolute necessities in mathematics and logic either. Mathematical theories have axioms, necessity of ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Is Aristotle's resolution of Zeno's paradoxes vindicated by motion in the intuitionistic continuum?

There are several notions of intuitionistic continuum, the closest ones to Aristotle's are Brouwer's "fluid continuum", and especially late Weyl’s version of it since On the New Foundational Crisis of ...
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  • 40.7k
7 votes

What are some arguments against the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment?

In my opinion, the best response to ontological uncertainty is to strive to live in a way that is meaningful regardless of the true nature of reality. While it may seem implausible, it may be less so ...
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7 votes

Where did Husserl say that in quantum mechanics spatial localisation is no longer a principle of individualisation?

I suspect that Petitot is misremembering and interpolating. Husserl did generally consider (formal) metaphysics to be the doctrine of individuation. For example, in a 1918 letter to Weyl, thanking him ...
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  • 40.7k
7 votes
Accepted

Why do we want to achieve Unified Theory of Everything?

At the present time, we do know not 2, but 4 kinds of physical interaction forces: Gravity Electromagnetism Weak interaction (explaining phenomena from radioactivity) Strong interaction (...
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  • 20.5k
7 votes

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

In my opinion you are mixing up different points: Physics does not use complex numbers to count entities. It is sufficient to count mangos by non-negative rational numbers, i.e. 1 mango, 1.5 mangos, ...
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  • 20.5k
7 votes

A distinction between knowledge of laws of physics and the actual laws

In practice, the term "law of physics" refers to things we already know to be wrong more often than not. For instance, Newton's law of gravitation is wrong, it has been superseded by general ...
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6 votes

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

I am not sure that saving phenomena can be used to argue that Plato and Aristotle admitted or did not admit that different suppositions might be consistent with them. At the time Plato posed the ...
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  • 40.7k
6 votes

Are there any naturally occuring non-embedded manifolds?

A manifold is a space, not an object in space. The line you draw on paper is not a manifold, although it may be an attempt to visualise one. The reason you should not think of manifolds as embedded ...
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  • 434
6 votes

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

That there is a threshold force required to move a body subject to friction is an interesting fact, but even cursory observation shows that this threshold is different for different bodies, and ...
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  • 40.7k
6 votes
Accepted

What does Heidegger mean by saying that Bergson's concept of time is essentially spatial?

Bergson's thesis was not that time is space-like, but that time understood "in the common way" is space-like. Bergson argued that practical reasons cause us to regard time as space, but that strictly ...
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  • 7,191
6 votes

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

Complex numbers are ordered pairs of numbers that have an extended definition of multiplication that is useful for representing circular motion in two-dimensions. (The definition of multiplication ...
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  • 1,712
6 votes

Interpretation of the butterfly effect

Even if you assume determinism without quantum complications, I think a better interpretation (more consistent with Lorenz's original math) is this: Given a complete description of the state of the ...
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