2012 10 phi ipfw science and metaphysics


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2012 10 phi ipfw science and metaphysics

  1. 1. Phi club IPFWIoan Muntean 1
  2. 2. Overview About a divorce: metaphysics and current science About a possible convergence Example: the role of spacetime in metaphysics Does all hell break loose? Metaphysical digressions on dimensionality Optimistic promissory note and three projects on convergence 2
  3. 3. Science and metaphysics? Analytic metaphysics is in resurgence. What is the relationship between the new analytic metaphysics and current science? Option 1: things are far more complicated than in Carnap’s years on both sides. Their relationship is in shambles Option 2 (and my argument): a new type of relationship is possible, more reconciliatory, call it “convergence” 3
  4. 4. Bad news: A marriage in hell 20th century science has started with a distrust in metaphysics Philosophy of science was born right from the divorce between metaphysics and scientific method How can they become reconciliatory? Convergence? No way! 4
  5. 5. Bad News (2): No commonalities The incommensurability position Science does not share the same language with metaphysics, so there is no real disagreement They talk past each other 5
  6. 6. Post-modern ennui: “so what?” In the 20th century science have talked less about existence or about fundamental entities  Science is more pragmatic, based on intervention The thrill is gone Therefore:  1 science cannot contribute to metaphysics  2 metaphysics cannot inform science “so much the worse for metaphysics” (P. Maddy, T. Maudlin, J. Ladyman) “so much the worse for science” 6
  7. 7. A “so much the worse” quote“Fiber bundles have their own, interesting structure, a structure that does not correspond to the traditional philosophical vocabulary. Instead of a rearguard operation in defense of the old philosophical tradition, philosophers would do best to try to understand the structure in their own terms. If they do not translate well into the categories in which philosophical debates have taken place, so much the worse for the philosophical debates.” (Maudlin 2007) 7
  8. 8. Do metaphysicians retort? Foundationalism:  No special science can arrogate to itself the task of rendering mutually consistent the various partial portraits: that task can alone belong to an overarching science of being, that is ontology (Lowe 2006).  “Our practical grasp of this logic is not to be called into question on account of recondite physics. A physicists who casts doubt upon it is sawing off the branch he sits upon” (Geach, 1972, 304, my emphasis) Conceptual analysis. Concepts such as identity, necessity, causation, essence, counterfactuals, space and time are all metaphysical. We need conceptual analysis (F. Jackson, N. Markosian, J. Kim) Argument from modality. Modal properties should supervene on the nonmodal properties. (L.A. Paul 2004, 172) Argument for commonsense. Metaphysics is an internal affair of philosophy and it is orthogonal to science. The metaphysician is able to marshal strong and plausible commonsense intuitions to support her view. Argument from pessimistic metainduction: all sciences, even the most advanced, have been proven to be false. Why should we trust our current science? 8
  9. 9. “The division of labor” Metaphysics is about something else“[...] about the most explanatorily basic necessities and possibilities. Metaphysics is about what could be and what must be. Except incidentally, metaphysics is not about explanatorily ultimate aspects of reality that are actual.” (Conee and Sider, 2005) 9
  10. 10. More bad news to come (3):clashes, Sturm und Drang The reformation move: science should inform are reform (radically, if necessary) metaphysics Science scorns metaphysics: metaphysics is the handmaid of science Metaphysics scorns sciences: “why should we believe science”? Similar to the pessimistic meta-induction.  Forget about science: metaphysics is forever Any attempt to find a common ground would totally damage them 10
  11. 11. The destructive debates (textbookexamples) The impact of special relativity on the debate between endurantism/perdurantism or tense /tenseless theories of time The impact of general relativity on the debate between substantivalism/relationalism theories of space(time) Quantum mechanics and its impact on identity and individuation of particles Quantum mechanics and its impact on  the part-whole relation  principle of recombination (a la Lewis) Interpretations of quantum mechanics and principles of modality (mainly Many Worlds Interpretation of QM) Holism in physics (interpretation of gauge theories) and its impact on metaphysics Add your preferred debate between metaphysics and science here _____________________ 11
  12. 12. Real debates: modalities and QM Do physicists (especially Everettians) build different type of modalities than metaphysicians?  Physical modalities are different than metaphysical modalities so back to the “division of labor” attitude.  The superposition rule of composition does not generate new possible worlds  There is a new sense of modality in Everettian QM 12
  13. 13. Underdetermination ofmetaphysics by science(s) 13
  14. 14. Science involved in metaphysics? Metaphysical statements can be tested by science (Hawley, 2005) Witness that mature/full-fledged and empirically confirmed sciences are needed (Some) empirically confirmed theories may have some bearings on metaphysics In respect of other, more suspicious scientific theories, adopt the :  wait-and-see attitude (or the “Greek chorus” attitude) 14
  15. 15. Better news: possible convergence Some scientific theories are partially interpreted  Especially those parts of science with are not yet mature, full-fledged theories Metaphysics can help in interpreting science Possible convergence? Is Quine’s prophecy that science and metaphysics will end up “on a par” fulfilled? I would say no, we’re far from it, if ever, if any convergence is possible 15
  16. 16. The bad “why” questions in science See Kepler’s explanation of the planetary system Why are there n=9(8?) planets in the solar system?  He looked for necessity in the wrong place and took contingency for necessity  There is no “deep metaphysics” of the solar/planetary system The same in the case of the “deep metaphysics” of light (Goethe etc) Is the question about the shape of spacetime that wrong- headed?  I argue that some questions about spacetime are not Kepler- like 16
  17. 17. The superficiality issue For some, some debates in metaphysics are purely verbal:  Endurantism-perdurantism  A-theorist-B-theorists  Nihilist-non-nihilists  Possibilists-actualists Some debates in science are merely verbal, too. Some questions seem settled forever and in fact they are not 17
  18. 18. What do I want to add to existingdebates? My discussion is centred on questions about the shape of spacetime in metaphysics What is the role of spacetime in metaphysics?  None?  Not important? Other existing discussions:  Modality (for example, give an scientific interpretation of the Lewisian “disconnected spacetime” concept used in the possible world metaphysics)  Branching spacetimes  The general covariance of spacetime and the similarity relation a la Lewis (T. Maudlin) 18
  19. 19. Good old fashioned metaphysics ofspace Descartes  matter=extension  individuation of matter = spatial separation. Newton (De Gravitatione)  “space has its own manner of existence which fits neither substances., nor accidents”  (Newtonians): space is the only principle of individuation. Spatial separation makes two identical bodies different (contra Leibniz) Kant  space has its own reality (Inaugural Dissertation)  the post-Kantians: Space and time (not spacetime) were the principium individuationis In Einstein’s relativity: a non-null spatio-temporal separation is a sufficient condition for individuation (separability) In quantum mechanics, this does not happen at all (e.g. photons) 19
  20. 20. Science and metaphysics, again The relation between the “new analytic metaphysics” and contemporary science Several approaches:  Historical approach  “Division of labor” approach  The new scientism (Maudlin, Ladyman, Van Fraassen)  Similarities (LA Paul, P. Godfrey-Smith)  Differences (Ladyman, Maudlin, present paper) 20
  21. 21. Aims of this project Focus on differences, not on similarities Metaphysical modality is essentially different than scientific modality At the core, there is a difference in representation and “theory” choice, albeit the language is similar Differences are as useful as analogies and help the advancement of metaphysics. It is an argument in metaphysics methodology and its resemblance to scientific methodology 21
  22. 22. What is the “new metaphysics”? Chronologically, comes after Naming and Necessity Conceptually, originates in Lewis, Armstrong The new systematic metaphysics orients itself towards modality and existence The new analytic metaphysics is not centered on ordinary language, but on the practice of philosophy itself A “newer new analytic metaphysics” is at the horizon:  Grounding (Schaffer)  Fundamentalism  Back to language? Sider  Meta-metaphysic-sy projects 22
  23. 23. Strong antinaturalism Metaphysics Science The necessary The actual The possible 23
  24. 24. Weak antinaturalism: overlapping The possible The actual The necessary 24
  25. 25. Division of Labor Division of Labor: metaphysics charts the domain of objective possibility through reason; science explores actual reality through empirical methods. “Metaphysics deals in possibilities’’(E. J. Lowe) C. Callender (about the division of labor): “… whereas scientists excavate dusty field sites and mix potions in laboratories to tell us which states of affairs are actual, metaphysicians are concerned with what is and isn’t metaphysically possible.” “Metaphysics is after something bigger and more abstract, the structure of metaphysical modality. What it investigates can tell us about the actual world, but only ‘incidentally’ because the actual world is one possible world of many” Modal truth is different than truth based on evidence 25
  26. 26. Old fashioned scientism Russell: make philosophy look more “exact” Make it look like mathematics or science. Modality and certainty: “Philosophy diminishes our feeling of certainty as to what things are, but greatly increases our knowledge as to what they may be”. Russell 26
  27. 27. The new scientism New scientism: In the light of contemporary theories in physics, metaphysicians need to reform their fundamental ontology. Van Fraassen, Ladyman&Ross&Spurrett, Maudlin Science is not only a supply of counterexamples to metaphysics But the source of change and progress in metaphysics 27
  28. 28. Some reconciliatory projectsA. Do not aim to reform metaphysics, but inform it scientifically: French, Callender: “metaphysics is best when informed by good science, and science is best when informed by good metaphysics”;B. (Re)situate metaphysics in meta-scienceC. Find similarities between science and metaphysicsD. Find differences and show they are central to both science and metaphysicsE. (Re)situate science in meta-metaphysicsI argue here that D and E are more attractive than CB. is well-explored in the philosophy of science (Friedman)A. is vague 28
  29. 29. A. Informing metaphysics Metaphysical statements can be tested by science (Hawley, 2005) Metaphysics is underdetermined by sciences (French, 2009) 29
  30. 30. B. Metaphysics and meta-science Metaphysics is meta-science Friedman: “the philosophical articulation of what we might call metaparadigms or meta-frameworks for revolutionary science capable of motivating and sustaining the transition to a new scientific paradigm.’’ 30
  31. 31. C. SimilaritySome similarities. They may share:I. their subject-matter: the mind-independent realityII. (some) ideals: simplicity, unification, expressibility, symmetry, etc.III. (some) methods: IBE, modeling (LA Paul, P. Godfrey-Smith)IV. (some) concepts: causation, laws, necessity, possibility, structure, realismThe “strong resemblance” view: keep I (perhaps, partially, II-IV)“Weak resemblance view”: reject I, but accept II, III or IV and othercombinationsI focus here on a weak resemblance view that keeps III and IV 31
  32. 32. I. The science-metaphysicscontinuum  For Humeans, metaphysics and science are part of the “best systematization of the world” (Callender)  “we can treat metaphysical claims as parts of the Best Theory that are more abstract and distantly related to experiment than the bulk of the theory, that is, science.” (Callender 2011 47)  Callender: modalities are not independent of scientific modalities 32
  33. 33. II. Scientific theories andmetaphysical doctrines They try to explain and unify They aim to simplicity They explain (Sider 2009); metaphysicians even use the inference to the best explanation for genuine modal realism (Shalkowski 2010) They both use underdetermination (but this is controversial in metaphysics, Ladyman 2012) 33
  34. 34. III. Modeling in science andmetaphysics metaphysics and science share the same method, (but not the same subject matter) They both build models: LA Paul, P. Godfrey-Smith They use confirmation: ordinary experience plays the role of experimental data in metaphysics 34
  35. 35. Models in science The simplified view: (P. Godfrey Smith, St French&Costa)  a model is a set of objects and relations among them  They act as interpreting structures for a mathematical theory A theory is true when there is an partial or total isomorphism between the model and the world Models uses abstracts and idealization: In building models, scientists ignore aspects of the world and structures of the theory. Scientists do incorporate false statements in their models 35
  36. 36. Modeling in metaphysics “metaphysical methods used to make claims about the world can be similar to scientific methods used to make claims about the world, but that the subjects of metaphysics are not the subjects of science” Paul 2012 metaphysical doctrines = models or classes of models “a class of models, where the models are composed of logical, modal and other relations relating variables that represent n-adic properties, objects, and other entities” LA Paul 2012 idealization and abstraction are important . 36
  37. 37. Idealization and abstraction abstraction and idealization are used in theory- building in metaphysics. Exemple: Idealization in the metaphysics of causation (when ignoring non-relevant causes). 37
  38. 38. Modality and “testing” inmetaphysics 1. Test a theory by considering the actual world or close possible worlds with fictional, physically possible situations. 2 Look for possible worlds that contradict the theory. Are there such possible worlds? 38
  39. 39. Ideal in metaphysics (GodfreySmith 2012) Project 1: describe the language and our thinking Project 2: describe a part of the world Project 3: relate project 1 and 2. Project 4: correct project 1 based on alternatives. 39
  40. 40. Features of metaphysical modality Robustness: are there results robust across various possible models? P. G-Smith: happens in metaphysical modeling. I disagree Tractability. In metaphysical model? I do not see it that wayP. Godfrey-Smith 40
  41. 41. IV Concept-similarity in science andmetaphysics Causation is similar in science and metaphysics (but it is in itself problematic) Structures are used in metaphysics, science, mathematics is a pretty uniform way Laws of nature are less similar, but still you can see them on a continuum Mereological concepts are even more different: parthood, recombination, com-possibility, composition, constitution What about “possibility” as used in science and metaphysics?  I show they are not similar at all, despite what is in general suggested  Many scientists embrace uncritically the concept of possibility from metaphysics  Metaphysicians dismiss any modal attempt coming from science 41
  42. 42. D. Differences in modeling How much the theory involves the unobservable, the indirectly confirmable, and the abstract; “and in how many different, competing models may maximize the theoretical virtues while doing an adequate job of saving the phenomena.” Paul 2012 More theories to choose in metaphysics than in science. Scientific models are constrained empirically. 42
  43. 43. IV. modalities I argue that a different concept of modality is at work in metaphysical modeling than in scientific modeling Despite appearances, different modal concepts are at work in scientific modeling and modeling in metaphyscs 43
  44. 44. Modality in physics Does quantum mechanics (Everettians) presuposes a different modalities than the standard metaphysics?  Physical modalities are different than metaphysical modalities, so we’re back to the “division of labor”.  There is a new sense of modality in Everettian QM Symmetries do act as limitations of modality. Path integral as well as principle of least action are related to modality (Butterfield) The multiverse modality is altogether another story. 44
  45. 45. Modality in metaphysical modeling Causation: causal talk depends on contrasts between what actually occurs and the ‘‘normal’’ course of events (Hitchcock and Knobe 2009) Philosophy uses fiction and the imagination, thought- experiments and imaginary cases If a metaphysical model uses fictional entities and imaginative situations, thought experiments and suchlike, it uses modality But is this similar enough to modality used in scientific models? 45
  46. 46. Structure and world in scientificmodality Structure limits possibility The world also is a limit of the scientific possibility 46
  47. 47. Fictions Fictional entities in science are constrained by (a) a theoretical structure, and (b) the structure of the world Fictional entities in metaphysics are constrained by conceivability. This is a major difference. 47
  48. 48. Abstractions and idealizations I argue they are fundamentally different in science and metaphysics. The mathematical structure needed in a theory does not exist 48
  49. 49. Caveats Perhaps models in science are more autonomous than stated here Perhaps a theoretical structure is not needed (be it mathematical or not). Why models? Perhaps a more syntactic-view friendly approach would find more similarities between the two modalities. Perhaps mathematical models are missing from the picture. Put back mathematics where it belongs. Perhaps logical models? 49
  50. 50. Unintended consequences I may need to decouple possibility from necessity. Metaphysical possibility is dual to metaphysical necessity. Scientific possibility (as used in modeling) is not couple to scientific necessity (be it laws of nature, regularities, generalizations. 50
  51. 51. Conclusion Different modality concepts are fruitful in metaphysics Can instigate new research directions within metaphysics 51
  52. 52. References Butterfield, Jeremy. 2004. “David Lewis Meets Hamilton and Jacobi.” Philosophy of Science 71 (5) (December): 1095–1106. Callender, Craig. 2011. “Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics.” In Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science, ed. Steven French and Juha Saatsi, 33–54. Continuum. Chakravartty, Anjan. 2009. “Making a Metaphysics for Nature.” Metascience 18 (1) (March): 75–79. doi:10.1007/s11016-009-9239-0. 52
  53. 53.  Conee, Earl, and Theodore Sider. 2005. Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press, USA. Contessa, Gabriele. 2010. “Scientific Models and Fictional Objects.” Synthese 172 (2) (January): 215–229. doi:10.1007/s11229-009-9501-4. Van Fraassen, Bas C. 1980. The Scientific Image. Oxford; New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press. ———. 2008. Scientific Representation : Paradoxes of Perspective. Oxford; New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press. Fraassen, Professor Bas C. van. 2002. The Empirical Stance. New ed. Yale University Press. French, Steven. 2003. “A Model-Theoretic Account of Representation (Or, I Don’t Know Much About Art...But I Know It Involves Isomorphism).” Philosophy of Science 70 (5) (December): 1472–1483. French, Steven, and James Ladyman. 1999. “Reinflating the Semantic Approach.” International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (2): 103. French, Steven, and Kerry McKenzie. 2012. “Thinking Outside the Toolbox: Towards a More Productive Engagement Between Metaphysics and Philosophy of Physics.” European Journal of Analytic Philosophy forthcoming. http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/8923/. 53
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