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31. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Manuel Liz New Physical Properties
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Discussions on physicalism, reduction, special sciences, the layered image of reality, multiple realizability, emergence, downward causation, and so forth, typically make the ontological presupposition that there is no room for new properties in the physical world. It is my purpose in this paper to explore the alternative hypothesis that there can be—and in fact are—new physical properties. In the first section, I will propose a brief analysis of the notions of property, physical property, and new physical property. In the second section, I will present four general situations in which it would be plausible to speak of the existence of new physical properties. All of that will be used to evaluate the content and scope of the hypothesis of physical novelty. Finally, in the third section, I will examine certain very interesting and promising consequences of such a physical novelty in relation to some of the topics above mentioned.
32. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Michael Ruse Reduction in Biology
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In this paper I shall discuss the concept of reduction—ontological, methodological, and epistemological or theoretical—in the biological sciences, with special emphasis on genetics and evolutionary biology. I suggest that perhaps, because the biological world has a form different from the non-biological world, it is appropriate to think of terms or metaphors different from those we would use when trying to understand the inorganic world. As such, the attempt to show that the biological is simply a deductive consequence of the physicochemical is doomed to failure. The philosophical complexity of reductionism on the one hand and its potential for advancing the study of biology on the other thus requires continuing the ongoing dialogue between philosophers and biologists.
33. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Lawrence Sklar What Is an Isolated System?
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In this paper, I want to focus attention on ways in which the role of idealization in science has been rather neglected by standard methodology, and suggest that this distinct role for idealization is the truly important role it plays in science. Further, I suggest that there are a number of important cases in theoretical science where the issue of idealization is not the issue of misrepresentation in some sense. Rather, the question is which of several alternative idealizations correctly represents the fundamental causalstructure of the world, and which idealizations, consequently, are appropriate for the scientific account of the world that is correct in its basic notion of what is an appropriate explanatory format for dealing with the physical phenomena in question. My argument is that the issues of idealization are important for methodology not primarily for the reasons that have so far exercised most philosophers of science who have worried about idealization in science.
34. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Elliott Sober Instrumentalism Revisited
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Instrumentalism is usually understood as a semantic thesis: scientific theories are neither true nor false, but are merely instruments for making predictions. Scientific realists are on firm ground when they reject this semantic claim. This paper focuses on epistemological rather than semantic instrumentalism. This form of instrumentalism claims that theories are to be judged by their ability to make accurate predictions, and that predictive accuracy is the only consideration that matters in the end. I consider how instrumentalism is related to a quite different proposal concerning how theories should be evaluated—scientific realism. Instrumentalism allows for the fact that a false model can get one closer to the truth than a true one.
35. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Ryszard Wójcicki What Do We Know?
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In what follows, I will address three fundamental questions regarding the theory of knowledge. They are as follows: What is knowledge? How can it be represented? How may one evaluate its quality? In this essay I outline a certain conceptual framework within which, I believe, these questions should be examined.
36. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Theo A. F. Kuipers Epistemological Positions in the Light of Truth Approximation
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I sketch the most important epistemological positions in the instrumentalism-realism debate, viz., instrumentalism, constructive empiricism, referential realism, and theory realism. I order them according to their answers to a number of successive leading questions, where every next question presupposes an affirmative answer to the foregoing one. I include the answer to questions concerning truth, as well as the most plausible answer to questions concerning truth approximation. Restricting my survey to the natural sciences and hence to the natural world, I indicate the implications of the results of the study of empirical progress and truth approximation for the way these epistemological positions are related. I conclude that there are good reasons for the instrumentalist to become a constructive empiricist; in order to give deeper explanations of success differences, the constructive empiricist is forced to become a referential realist; and, there are good reasons for the referential realist to become a theory realist of a non-essentialist nature, here called a constructive realist.
37. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Eduardo H. Flichman Newton’s Dynamics, Kuhn, and Incommensurability
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In this paper I will attempt to show how incommensurability between theories is usually manifested, framing this notion in a sense similar to the Kuhnian one in certain aspects, though very different in others. Further, I will show that it is possible, and desirable, to rid Kuhn’s thesis of the idea that in many important theories a certain part of the theoretical nucleus partially contains in a more or less vague sense, synthetic a priori or even analytic statements. Alternatively, I present a motive for the change of meaning in the basic terms of a theory wherein fundamental laws maintain their synthetic a posteriori character. Incommensurability in this case has to do with the change of lexicon for internal properties, independently of whether or not there is a change in the meaning of the primitive terms of the theory.
38. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Alberto Cordero Physics and the Underdetermination Thesis: Some Lessons from Quantum Theory
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Although exceptionally successful in the laboratory, the standard version of quantum theory is marred as a realist-objectivist proposition because of its internal conceptual difficulties and its tension with important parts of physics—most conspicuously, relativity theory. So, to meet these challenges, in recent years at least three distinct major objectivist programs have been advanced to further quantum theory into a proper general account of material systems. Unfortunately, the resulting proposals turn out to be, for all practical purposes, empirically equivalent both among themselves and against the standard version. This paper analyzes the basic issues involved in the case. It is argued that (a) the global anti-realist conclusion derived from it are fallacious, and (b) the encountered underdetermination shows how contingent upon the state of empirical knowledge talk about the “limits of science” actually is.
39. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Tian Yu Cao Representation or Construction?: An Interpretation of Quantum-Ffield Theory
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In this essay, I argue that the basic entities in the causally organized hierarchy of entities that quantum field theory describes are not particles but fields. Then I move to discuss, from the perspective of a structural realist, in what sense and to what degree this theoretical construction of fields can be taken as an objective representation of physical reality.
40. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Gary S. Rosenkrantz What Is Life?
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I attempt to define the concept of ‘living organism’. Intuitively, a living organism is a substantial entity with a capacity for certain relevant activities. But biology has discovered that living organisms have a particular compositional or microstructural nature. This nature includes carbon-based macromolecules and water molecules. I argue that such living organisms belong to a natural kind of compound physical object, viz., carbon-based living organism. My definition of a living organism encompasses both the intuitively relevant activities and the empirically discovered compositional nature. The definition is designed to deal with a variety of problem cases, e.g., viruses, proteinoid microspheres, sterile organisms, suspended animation cases, and living parts of organisms.