• Landru Guide Us
    245


    No consistency problem here at all. Einstein lived in a culture that in fact did have scientific institutions (indeed arguably the most advanced in the world - not a coincidence by the way). So a guy working Patent offices wasn't a hobbyist, but was able to avail himself of those institutions, which he immediately did when he developed the theory and sent it in for peer review and publication. If it remained some notes in his apartment because of a lack of scientific publications, we might still be in the Newtonian age.

    So your premise is counterfactual on that level.

    Worse, it's counterfactual in the sense that it assumes Einstein could have developed the ToR without peer review journals, without archives of knowledge, without the technology used to produce such knowledge, and so forth. I'm going to say that's a false premise. It isn't a coincidence that Einstein developed the theory when he did where he did, and that had to do with the advanced state of scientific institutions in Germany and the western world at that time. The theory would have been inconceivable a half century earlier.
  • Landru Guide Us
    245
    I'll repeat what my criteria of science is again: science is what scientists do. I say this because your characterization of my position -- "guys in garages" -- is quite off the mark. Just because the current institutions of science haven't always existed that doesn't mean scientists didn't publish, didn't archive, and didn't utilize standards.Moliere

    Yes it does.

    If they archive, publish, peer review, it means there are institutions for that purpose. Generally that cost money. With more advanced science lots of many. But in any case, it requires those institutions. Library, research archives, publication, peer review, scientific associations don't take place as a result of hobbies. So you seem to be agreeing with me and then redefining what an institution is.

    But in any case, the claim that "what scientists do" is science doesn't survive scrutiny, and hardly means anything. It would mean that oracles and astrologers are scientists - if they call themselves that.

    Scientists get that role by virtue not of a label, but institutions dedicated to the pursuit of methodological naturalism. Those that meet the requirements and standards of practice are scientists and nobody else.

    That's why the guy who started the Creationist Museum, who calls himself a scientist, isn't.
  • Moliere
    1.8k
    I didn't claim you didn't have a consistency problem. I opened by saying "You can consistently hold an institutional theory"

    What it would mean is that the ToR was not science until it was recognized by the institution, though. Similarly so with institutional theories of art -- the question being, if Vincent van Gogh had just left a painting away which had yet to be discovered, was the painting not art until the artworld, the institutions of art, actually recognized them and hung them in museums?

    Before being recognized by scientific institutions the theory of relativity would not be science. Afterwords, it would be. At least, in accord with the institutional theory as I understand it. You may have a different notion in mind.

    I would say that institutions differ from social actions. Institutions are the ossified remains of social organization and social activity. They are the boundaries within which we organize social activity. They are not social activity themselves. Institutions serve to preserve values, maintain norms, and hold authority and status. Aside from power they are also held up by how those regard them.

    A social activity, on the other hand, can disapear from institutions, can occur without an institution, and is absolutely necessary for any institution to be constructed.

    But in any case, the claim that "what scientists do" is science doesn't survive scrutiny, and hardly means anything. It would mean that oracles and astrologers are scientists - if they call themselves that.Landru Guide Us

    It's not "who calls themselves a scientist" which bears the mark of science. It's what scientists do. I don't disagree that it hardly means anything -- the meaning comes from actually bothering to investigate what scientists do. So we'd have to then turn to the history, and perhaps even a phenomenology, of science.
  • Hachem
    384
    I am new to this forum, otherwise I would certainly loved participating in this discussion. Maybe it is too late, but I would like to mention a thread that I started on Quantum Theory and its metaphysical status.
    https://philpapers.org/bbs/thread.pl?tId=1734#p14978
  • Rich
    3.2k
    There are several interpretations of the Schrodinger equation. The one that I prefer is Bohm's quantum mechanics which is causal (i.e. the quantum potential it's real) and it is probabilistic, which corresponds to my observations and experiences. It also provides a reasonable explanation for quantum behavior such as the Delayed-Choice experiment and non-locality. In fact, it was Bohm's formulation of the Schrodinger equation that inspired Bell to develop the Bell Theorem which tests non-locality which was been experimenting observed at the molecular level.
  • Shawn
    10.8k
    If you assume that wavefunction is real and that it occupies an infinite manifold Hilbert space, then in some sense QM becomes or at least seems to become quite metaphysical. I've often resented the fact that philosophy is barred or seen as detrimental to talk about QM. Perhaps Platonists could have better luck at making sense of QM rather than philosophers. However, I doubt restricting the domain of an all encompassing theory like QM makes any sense to physics only.

    Whereof one cannot speak thereof one ought to reamin silent.
  • Hachem
    384
    I've often resented the fact that philosophy is barred or seen as detrimental to talk about QM.Posty McPostface
    I see QM as a metaphysical theory in scientific clothes and philosophers should be much more engaged in its discussion. But as always scientists hide behind their formulas and equations which, as far as I can see, are correct, once you have accepted the premises.
    https://philpapers.org/post/18786
    https://philpapers.org/post/19070
  • Rxspence
    37
    " By that, I mean that changing the interpretation doesn't change the outcome of an observation or experiment. If I am mistaken about this, I would appreciate it if someone would correct me."

    atomic or sub atomic observations?
    What they are observing is a reaction to an experiment designed to simulate theories.
    all theoretical physics is just that!
    all theory is logic and methods of reasoning.
    Therefore all theoretical science is philosophy
    Hence Phd (dr. of Philosophy) in Science
  • Rxspence
    37
    It has also been proven that the observation changes the object being observed.
    In other words, the observation changes the outcome of an observation.
  • Paul S
    135

    It has also been proven that the observation changes the object being observed.Rxspence
    This is the measurement problem in Quantum mechanics.

    In quantum mechanics, the measurement problem considers how, or whether, wave function collapse occurs. The inability to observe such a collapse directly has given rise to different interpretations of quantum mechanics and poses a key set of questions that each interpretation must answer.

    You can see a summary of interpretations here: Interpretations

    Some theories say it changes the object being observed, some say it doesn't. I feel more drawn to the Ensemble or even Copenhagen interpretations at this moment but that wasn't always the case. The only reason I feel drawn to the Ensemble interpretation is it is more agnostic and I don't have to agree with outlandish ideas my intuition cannot accept. It was the least worst in Einstein's mind at the time, as it is agnostic deterministically, and Einstein found Born's statistical interpretation basically the least worst take on it.
  • Rxspence
    37
    John Archibald Wheeler's participatory anthropic principle says that consciousness plays some role in bringing the universe into existence.(Interpretations)

    Modal interpretations of quantum mechanics were first conceived of in 1972 by Bas van Fraassen, in his paper "A formal approach to the philosophy of science."(Interpretations)

    I think therefore I am; Thinking is not a physical property therefore physical existence is not proven!
  • Gary Enfield
    52

    With that amount of knowledge, I believe that it is a correct statement that all of the interpretations of quantum mechanics are functionally equal. By that, I mean that changing the interpretation doesn't change the outcome of an observation or experiment. If I am mistaken about this, I would appreciate it if someone would correct me.

    If all interpretations are in fact functionally equivalent, then a discussion of which is the correct or appropriate interpretation, appears to have taken place almost entirely within the scientific community, but not, so far as I can tell within the philosophy of science community. Isn't that misplaced? Now to be clear, I do understand that philosophers are weighing in on the subject, which I think is appropriate, but what I don't see (maybe I am just ignorant of it) is interpretations proposed by philosophers. Isn't that what philosophy of science should be doing?
    Reformed Nihilist

    I am surprised at how much of the dialogue on this topic has missed some of the basic points about the relationship between philosophy and science.

    The role of philosophy is to put a framework around the unknown: thereby establishing the range of possible explanations, and the criteria that can prove or disprove any set of beliefs. In contrast, the role of science is simply to provide relevant facts to narrow the range of options.

    When scientists apply an interpretation to their findings, they are applying a philosophical judgement, and until their case is proven, there will always be alternate explanations from across the range of possibility. Yet 'Facts' remain unchanged, for ever, and therefore every philosophical interpretation must accommodate every relevant fact if it is to be held as potentially valid.

    It is fundamentally wrong to suggest that any philosophy can change an observed and confirmed fact.

    The difficulty with QM is that it cannot directly observe what it is investigating and therefore its facts are loose at best, because we can never be sure that we have established all of the variables at play in any scenario. That must be fundamentally true if the outcomes which are observed do not comply with known principles, and produce a range of outcomes for any single start point, without any known causes. In itself, (as demonstrated by the mathematical use of probabilities in virtually all QM equations), this 'randomness' would strongly suggest that determinist principles have been broken, because strict causality requires just one outcome for any single and precise circumstance/event .

    For these reasons, I do not understand the early points made which suggested that there are definitive philosophers in their field. Dennet was used as an example, but he was/is one extreme voice out of many, and he along with other strict determinists were/are appalled by the seeming randomness of QM results - which continue to fundamentally break their principles.

    Erwin Schrodinger and his philosophical principle involving a cat, marked one position in the range of thinking about QM results. Yet he put a very different marker in the philosophical landscape when he tried to define Life as ..."that which avoids the decay into equilibrium".

    There are also many philosophical pronouncements within QM. For instance, each of the different interpretations of by scientists concerning the results of various Double Slit experiments, is a different philosophical viewpoint. Whether you prefer Copenhagen to Tegmark's Many World's theory, or Finipolscie's suggestion of another type of stuff underpinning the Universe, there are many philosophers with viable ideas because they all potentially explain the facts, with the level of knowledge that we have.

    But we don't know which is true because we lack the equipment/techniques to provide better facts.
  • antor
    3
    I think the word interpretation is kind of an unfortunate choice. I mean in science there are alot of unknown consequences etc which could in the same manner be called interpretations yet they are mostly just called unknown or "were not there yet". It is not yet certain if QM is a true case of "we will never know therefore we might as well dream up some INTERPRETATION" or if it's just another case of "were not there yet".

    In the first case, the need for an interpration I personally see as a very human one. Physics itself doesn't give a damn.
  • Paul S
    135
    Physics itself doesn't give a damn.antor

    There is still nothing boring about the questions it has for our finest abstract capabilities to understand it.

    I think the word interpretation is kind of an unfortunate choice.antor

    You will not find a much more open ended term to invite a description of what is going on.

    It is not yet certain if QM is a true case of "we will never know therefore we might as well dream up some INTERPRETATION" or if it's just another case of "were not there yet".antor

    If light's fundamentally invariance, invariant speed, is not just a property of our universe but a property of any other super set we could conceive of as harbouring our universe, that is to say, in any way that could be described epistemologically as a super set from our human contextual frame of reference, then time itself and the concept of tense that goes with it, ultimately have no meaning from a the frame of reference of these invariant phenomena. There is no cause or effect from that perspective. Cause and effect would be on some level merged together from the point of view of light and anything else with such invariant properties. We do not have an agreed consensus as to how to interpret this invariance and the implications that come with it as baggage. Hence the invitation to interpret a fundamental implication: quantum mechanics.

    At least that's how I see the question.
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