Friday, March 24, 2006

Futuristic Links

The Future of Philosophy
Brian Weatherson has an interesting post predicting that the trend toward specialization by academic philosophers will reverse in the future. As an onlooker who reads some philosophy, I’d say this would be a very good thing. My specific suggestion would be a plea for more metaphysics. Too often, it seems to me that metaphysical presuppositions go unexplained or unexamined in the specialized areas.

The Future of Fundamental Physics
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, fundamental physics seems stuck. Here’s Lee Smolin’s latest manifesto which stresses the need for more work on the philosophical foundations of theory. Also, here’s a slide show from John Baez which discusses “Where We Stand Today”. (Hat tip: Peter Woits’ blog).


6 comments:

Gregg Rosenberg said...

Hi Steve, thanks for posting this link to Smolin's essay.

I think Smolin is one of our greatest living physicists, and am a big fan of quantum loop gravity and, more generally, the intellectual approach to physics he and his sub-group represent. I'm consistently annoyed by the attention string theory gets.

There are a handful of phenomena in physics that get publicized -- dark matter, mathematical inconsistencies between theories, infinities and normalization within the standard theory, inflation and other anomalies within cosmology -- that seem to me to point clearly to huge holes in our current models. String theory to me has always seemed to be a kludge driven my mathematicians rather clear physical thinking. I've always wondered why the community has embraced it so readily, and this is the best diagnosis I've read. Thanks.

--Gregg

Steve said...

Smolin (also Carlo Rovelli from the LQG side) has always made alot of sense to me also. What's changing now is that the argument that string theory may be a dead-end is accumulating data points much more rapidly than a few years ago.
(BTW, nice to hear from you, Gregg).

Antonio said...

Hi Steve,
About QT and its interpretations, I find very insightful the view proposed by Ulrich Mohrhoff,
who tries to stick pretty rigorously to the probabilistic character of the quantum formalism as an algorithm for calculating the probabilities of possible measurement outcomes on the basis of actual outcomes.
The striking fact is that this seemingly rather bleak statement allows (at least in Mohrhoff's view)"find the ontological implications of the quantum formalism greatly inspiring. Among these implications are the numerical identity of all particles; the incomplete spatiotemporal differentiation of Reality; and the top-down structure of the physical world". He has been publishing papers on these matters for some years (i.e. arxiv.org) and I just saw that lately he had been defending his view in Physics Forums (under the nick of Koantum) against the heavy PF thinkers of the quantum theory. I really think it's worth a look.
Anyway, I hope not having bothered you commenting here uninvitedly. And, by the way, Steve, congratulations for your great site.
Best regards, Antonio

Steve said...

Antonio: thank you for the comment and the kind words. I will look again at the work of Mohrhoff. I had read one of his papers before (this one). I thought his critique of some of the presuppositions of other interpretations was good, but I didn't understand or appreciate why his account was any better at the end of the day. But that was awhile ago. Thanks again.
- Steve

Boofykatz said...

Great Blog, but a hope that philosophy readdresses metaphysics? Try reading this http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Philosophy/axioms/axioms/node2.html

I have some caveats, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

Steve said...

Thanks boofykatz. I will follow the link and check this out. - Steve