Consider a system in the vacuum state over some period of time. Similarly, virtual particles in the vacuum are not considered real due to their non-detection, even though real phenomena such as the Casimir effect can result from them. Here is another question involving quantum mechanics where some collaboration may be useful. Although during the last decades the philosophy of chemistry has greatly extended its thematic scope, the main difficulties appear in the attempt to link the chemical description of atoms and molecules and the description supplied by quantum mechanics. The relativistic interpretation of QM (RQM) discussed in my other comment here can perhaps resolve the question of the ontology of virtual particles, including in the “vacuum state”. Working physicists, I believe, almost inevitably have strong philosophical interests, regardless of whether they have taken courses labeled “Philosophy” and whether they have liked what they have sampled. No doubt philosophers tend to focus more on the Class One problems than the Class Two problems, but not because they are “philosophical” rather than “physical” problems. In his famous 1963 Scientific American article, Dirac divides the problems confronting the understanding of quantum theory into the Class One and Class Two problems. So, then, my question is thus: what is known of the limits to the relationship between mathematics and physics. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves. Obviously, there are some questions and problems that properly belong to one field but not the other. Typically, one is interested in the degree to which a successor to a given theory “goes beyond” (both descriptively and explanatorily) the theory it succeeds. It also has many branches: metaphysics, logic, politics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and specific philosophy in fields like philosophy of language, history, the mind, and religion, among others. Once the photon has been detected, its red shift can be viewed as a purely relativistic effect produced by the difference in motion between the rest frames of the emitting particle and the detector, and is thus energy conserving. For instance, the proposal that QFT was an effective, low energy theory (rather than a complete theory valid to all energies) is as much a philosophical as physical proposal; it doesn’t change any equations, but allows you to interpret the process of renormalization (and the appearance of infinities) very differently. Has philosophy been eclipsed by science in the quest for understanding the nature of reality? Sean in the post in Cosmic Variance  mentions that in quantum mechanics the states of the universe are “wave functions.”   I am not sure whether he means  by “wave functions”  mathematical entities or whatever concrete things or stuff satisfy a certain mathematical description. Without an improved understanding of the ontology of QM, it is difficult to imagine that some of the more poorly understood aspects of cosmology will be satisfactorily addressed. It is just a weird sociological fact that, since the advent of quantum theory and the objections to that theory brought most forcefully by Einstein, Schrödinger, and later Bell, a standard physics education does not address these fundamental questions and many physics students are actively dissuaded from asking them. If you think there is an alternative ontology accepted by the “average physicist”, please try to state clearly what it is. The main difference between ethics and philosophy is that ethics are moral guidelines while philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, as an academic discipline.. Ethics help a person to lead a life in accordance with moral standards, and there are numerous philosophies that concern these ethics. Change ). Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. Are there mathematical degrees of freedom in the representation that do not correspond to physical degrees of freedom in the system itself? Unable to display preview. In my case, the onset of curiosity about the physical world, so far as I can recall, came at the age of four, when I saw my father siphoning wine out of a barrel, and I was amazed that the wine went up in the siphon before it descended. The relationship between physics and chemistry is one of the perennial foundational issues in the philosophy of chemistry. It concerns the very existence and identity of chemistry as an independent scientific discipline. pp 177-184 | If I may add a suggestion, it’s also worth exploring whether there have been incidences in the history of physics where an adherence to a particular philosophical viewpoint has hindered progress (or not). The investigation is carried out both from a historical and a theoretical point of view. Both physics and philosophy must enter into any worthwhile discussion of the interpretation of QM, particularly where issues related to cosmology are concerned. (No, I’m not raising the question of whether it is “nothing”!) In one sense a “wavefunction” (as its name implies) is a mathematical object—e.g. I didn’t quite understand whether you brought up the class one/class two distinction as a response to my point about effective field theory — are you saying that the effective field theory paradigm isn’t philosophical in the sense that you are interested in? The issue was raised by Carroll and Smolin and Krauss himself  of exactly what the relationship between physics and philosophy of physics can be and should be. The propagators in Feynman diagrams are considered to be virtual particles because they are never themselves separately detected. Psycholog… Not logged in > > Albert Einstein, Letter to Robert Thornton, 1944 … So if the quantum state is complete, nothing physical in the system can be changing. I propose the following: philosophy is the systematic search for perspective, for connections among aspects of the world, and for depth of explanation. Many issues in the philosophy of science concern the nature of theories and certain relations that may obtain between them. So, for better or worse, discussing these questions is more universally recognized as an important and legitimate task in philosophy departments than in physics departments (even Bell characterized his seminal work in foundations as secondary to his “real” physics work at CERN). This service is more advanced with JavaScript available, Philosophies of Nature: The Human Dimension For example, it provides a good explanation of the results of experiments related to Bell’s inequality. One can even do so in the hope that the solution to the Class Two problems might shed light on the Class One problems, but there is really not much in the way of good argument to expect this fortuitous result. RQM has already been used to convincingly address many of the more general interpretive issues regarding QM. It is true that some philosophers of physics show more interest in axiomatic QFT than is shown by practicing philosophers. post by Sean Carroll (linked here to his blog) and Lee Smolin are very helpful. So let’s put an end to the kerfuffle (or brouhaha)  over whether David’s review of Krauss’ book was fair and whether Krauss response was inappropriate. 2) I think the development of QFT in the 1960s provides some interesting examples of the sort of interplay you’re looking for, though the “philosophy” comes mostly from the physicists. I brought up Dirac for a completely different reason: to show that he appreciated the importance of the Class One problems, even though he preferred to work of the Class Two problems because he thought he could make more progress on them. That may arise from studying logic, and indeed be traced to a philosophy background. The relation between philosophy and science is intimate, the relation between science and philosophy is also intimate, however, the relation between philosophy and technology is not so. Thus, while interesting in its own right, RQM also serves as a good example of the synergy between philosophical and physical reasoning in advancing our understanding of the universe. Plain old non-relativistic quantum mechanics also suffices for the EPR argument, and Schrödinger’s cat argument, and to show the violation of Bell’s inequality. Moreover, RQM is actually inconsistent with any concept of a state of the universe. This all seems like very fertile ground for philosophical thought. If a ray, then it is misleading to say that the physical state is represented by a vector in the space: the vector has mathematical properties that do not correspond to physical properties of the system.) Thus, in this view, the particles involved in all of these phenomena are considered to be real, not virtual, but the notion of reality has been loosened. In a simple way, we could say that psychology is the science responsible for the study of the human mindand behavior. In my experience, this sort of thing makes working physicists distrust philosophers in general. The philosophy of any science (Mathematics, Physics, and History) is the search for the most general principles upon which this science rests, and the most general results to which it leads, the attempt to embrace from a superior point of view the sequence of its parts. It is notable that Bell was a major expositor and advocate of both Bohm and GRW, and I think it is obvious that philosophers are interested in them because they are clear and exact and solve the measurement problem. Philosophy of science focuses on metaphysical, epistemic and semantic aspects of science. The comments in the An Explanation from Nothing? Similarly, in vacuum pair production, when a virtual particle is annihilated, it is observed by the annihilating particle. GRW) and more interest in getting really clear about just what Many Worlds theory claims. Heisenberg discusses the relationship between the experimental results and the theoretical construction of quantum physics and then to its epistemological and ontological assumptions. (He also seems not to realize that many QFT texts propose local gauge invariance as a reason *why* we have the photon field.) Working physicists, I believe, almost inevitably have strong philosophical interests, regardless of whether they have taken courses labeled “Philosophy” and whether they have liked what they have sampled. Dr. Peikoff shows that the differences affect only the form (but not the essence) of induction and illustrates this fact by analyzing the inductive proof of typical Objectivist principles. Some Knots Have Knotted Limbs Toward the end of Physics and Philosophy Werner Heisenberg presciently mentions the incompatibility of quantum mechanics with relativity and the need for coherent concepts that allow for both theories without mathematical inconsistencies. Learning sophisticated mathematics, which a a large part of a physics education, does nothing to instill appreciation of the sort of conceptual and argumentative clarity needed to tackle these foundational issues. (Wallace, who does seem to write and think like a physicist, emphasizes the importance of the distinction.) Reprinted with small modifications from NASA Conference Publication 3270: 3rd International Workshop of Squeezed States and Uncertainty Relations, ed. Philosophy of physics can be broadly lumped into three areas: He just did not see how to make progress on them. Others are drawn in because of their fascination with specific phenomena. In philosophy, philosophy of physics deals with conceptual and interpretational issues in modern physics, many of which overlap with research done by certain kinds of theoretical physicists. Respectively, these mean “soul” and “study”. Others, while surely familiar with QFT, manage to convey a fairly idiosyncratic understanding of the subject. But the “buzzing hive” of virtual particles is presented as constantly changing: particle pairs are being created and destroyed all the time. the Liar paradox— that have resisted solutions for millenia, and we are not so frustrated not to get quick results. The “virtual particle” status issue raised in your last paragraph could be a poster child for the need for greater collaboration between the physical and philosophical modes of analysis. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". Another is the apparent non-conservation of energy for the photons in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which seems to have no widely accepted explanation at this point. I’m sure he would’ve felt the same about the “Hole argument.” It wasn’t that he lacked any knowledge of the underlying physics, but he did have a very different sense of what was an interesting question. Physics keeps on disproving WAGs (Wild-Ass Guesses) about our universe that the philosophers kept dreaming up in the past, so the philosophers have to keep wandering further afield. and some current issues where it looks like collaboration may lead to progress. This independence created by philosophical insight is—in my opinion—the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth. But without an answer, we really have no understanding of the vacuum state, or the status of “virtual particles”. Whether that equation is the Dirac equation or Schrödinger’s equation is neither here nor there. Standard texts happen not to be very good sources for clear accounts of the fundamental issues we are discussing, in any case. Curriculum. If one asks whether this sort of question is one of philosophy or of physics, I (and Einstein) would say it is a matter of physics. Peter Bergmann, in the introduction to his Basic Theories of Physics I attributed to Einstein the view that “a theoretical physicist is ... a … Indeed, it seems to be an absolutely essential question if one is to understand the physical account of the world being provided by the mathematics. As for the apparent non-conservation of energy for CMB photons, in RQM the photon is not considered to have a unique QM state unless it is observed. I (and I hope others) would be interested in some discussion of issues in the history of philosophy/physics where collaboration did pay off (even if is just Einstein collaborating with himself!) We all know the phrase “shut up and calculate”. One worth mentioning is the “relational” interpretation (RQM) originally put forth by Carlo Rovelli, a physicist that has also worked and published in philosophy. The philosophical idea here is something like fallibilism, or that our current best theories are merely provisional. Far from being immune from philosophy, current physics is deeply affected by philosophy. A virtual particle exists within limited time and space intervals. This is because the knowledge of mankind is limited by what they know about the universe and the relationships between things as described by physics. Abstract. For example, Einstein’s great interest in the philosophy of Mach was hugely important, yet Mach’s trenchant opposition to atomism on philosophical grounds cannot be denied, nor indeed his opposition to relativity (which became clear after his death, much to Einstein’s dismay). D. Han et al., 1994. Philosophy shows the way and education moves on in that direction. When Bell wrote “Against ‘Measurement'” he did not talk about field theory, but not because he was unfamiliar with it or the mathematics it uses. But when the same types of propagators (such as photons) are detected, they are considered to be real. I do like your point that physicists want to get tangible results and to make progress, while philosophers are accustomed to dealing with questions that take a long time to get resolved. They are, as I have said, directly questions of understanding physics as physics. But, if a virtual particle is detected (i.e., interacts with an “observer”), then its existence is thereby prolonged and it becomes a real, rather than virtual particle. But the main thing is not to lose sight of the Class One problems, even if they resist solution. My personal belief is that philosophy, physics, and even mathematics are but different paths to the same goal: understanding the world on the most fundamental level. Defining a state for the entire universe would thus require a second physical object outside the universe, which is a contradiction. There was still cross-pollination between philosophy and physics, and there still is. He did not talk about because the way it differs from non-relativistic quantum mechanics is simply not at all relevant to the problem. In RQM, even a single particle is considered to be a QM system that potentially can play the same observer role as a more complex system in establishing the states of other QM objects. This thesis will show that physics and the philosophy of God Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. That immediately raises many questions. Important because they enter in an essential way into all perturbative solutions in quantum field theory, as well as in the analysis of static force fields, near-field phenomena, and others. (I say this not to take sides, but just to point to a difference in intellectual values that I think could be important.). These jobs properly belong to philosophy. My own two cents is that the discussion of non- locality (exactly what are the consequences of nature failing to satisfy Bell’s inequality) has been advanced by work that involved both physicists and philosophers and interactions between them though there is still a lot of confusion on this topic. I hold graduate degrees in physics, in theoretical economics, and in philosophy, and I have graduate-level familiarity with models of mathematical population genetics. For me it’s easy to see what philosophers often lack, and it’s something like: a working knowledge of the content of field theory textbooks (along with the associated math). Bohmian mechanics) and in explicit and clear collapse theories (e.g. But it is also commonly said that the quantum state of system is complete: to deny this is to posit “hidden variables”, and those are not regarded by most physicists with favor. Their interest is implicit in the discipline of physics itself. Intertheory Relations in Physics. the relation between philosophy and science.1 I will start by outlining a general view of philosophy, and afterwards consider philosophy of science. When I think about what physicists lack, it’s something more like intellectual patience; in many cases they’re content to say something like, “that’s just not an interesting question” or ” we just don’t know the answer to this question right now.” The questions raised by these arguments are the ones that interest philosophers, and they are not questions that are produced by arcane philosophical distinctions. Humanities, sciences and math are the main components of the modern theoretical and practiclal world. Take the “vacuum state” in quantum field theory. > A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. Whitehead suggests as an alternative to consider is that the only reason we see science and technology as special today is because of a new mentality that did not exist before and which "infects" all of cultivated thought including both the individual sciences and philosophy. The relationship of theology to philosophy is much more difficult to determine, because it is much more complicated. a complex function on another mathematical object called “configuration space”—that is employed in physics as a representation of a physical system. I’m not sure that collaboration is the proper model here—as the “example” of Einstein collaborating with himself suggests!—but rather an appreciation of both which details of the physics are important and where the physics is simply not clear and precise as physics. This situation represents the lost connection between the unlimited scientific/technological advancement and human beings and its fate on this planet. Does the Past Hypothesis Need an Explanation? Take the case of the “nature of the wavefunction”, for example. Nor are the questions that interest philosophers the product of philosophy grad school. It is true that there are some particular questions that fall more into the domain of philosophy (e.g. Cite as. This gives rise to the collectionof philosophical issues known as “the interpretation of quantummechanics”. The word “psychology” comes from the Greek words “psyche” and “logos”. But somehow it seems like this is not what you’re looking for — perhaps the sense of “philosophy” that’s relevant to your question is not “grand speculative ideas” but something more like “the careful drawing of distinctions taught in philosophy grad. school for a few years, and who has worked through a few field theory textbooks. It would be really good to see more collaboration between physicists and philosophers on this issue. Today unified field theories of quantum gravity that attempt to reconcile quantum mechanics with relativity are being explored by … calculate the entropy of a black hole from first principles). This claim depends, of course, on a conception of what philosophy is. Over that period of time, the quantum state is static: it is always the same. The confusion regarding the reality of virtual particles is multifold. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Quick points. But new suggestions regarding QM interpretation continue to be advanced, providing different and perhaps more compelling insights into these issues and others. Maybe it is because as philosophers we are more used to working on problems—e.g. So while Krauss and Hawking lament that many philosophers don’t know enough physics (which is true), it is equally the case that many physicists are sloppy thinkers when it comes to foundational matters. This thesis will explore the impact that scientific theories - particularly those in the field of physics - have had on prevailing philosophies of God, and illustrate that … Let me give a quick example. The best, most searching discussions of the problems I just mentioned are due to Einstein, Schrödinger and Bell. The best one-sentence account of what philosophy is up to was given by Wilfrid Sellars in 1963: philosophy is concerned with "how things in the broadest possible sense Part of Springer Nature. Another possible example is the failure of S-matrix theory and the development of nonperturbative methods in field theory, which arguably involve different attitudes toward the reality of the field itself (as opposed to the perturbative Feynman rules). This discipline overlaps with metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and truth. Therefore, psychology means the study of the soul. Physicists are individuals who have a wide variety of attitudes about philosophy. If one understands philosophy as the discipline that attempts to explicate the totality of being, the difference between philosophy and theology becomes apparent. This is where the lines between philosophy, theoretical and mathematical physics can get most blurry. ( Log Out /  The Axioms of Induction, Part 1. 3) My own sense is that physicists are very open to speculative ideas that I would consider philosophical: for instance, the idea (not provable at present) that local gauge invariance explains why we have the photon field, or the laws of electromagnetism; or the idea that we have the particles we do because of some SO(10) GUT group, or the shape of some extra dimensions. Off the top of my head, here are some philosophers of physics that know relativistic quantum field theory perfectly well: David Albert, David Wallace, Paul Teller, David Malament, John Earman, Laura Ruetsche, Gordon Belot, Hans Halvorsen, Wayne Myrvold, Frank Arntzenius, Michael Dickson, Richard Healey, Jeff Bub, Doreen Fraser. 1) My sense is that physicists and philosophers have a hard time collaborating because they begin in fundamentally... 2) I think the development of QFT in the 1960s provides some interesting examples of the sort of interplay you’re... 3) My own sense … If you think they are somehow relevant, then explain exactly how, but suggesting that David “seems not to realize” what is in standard QFT texts is again just factually false. And the habits of mind—a certain sort of precision about concepts and arguments—that are needed to pursue these questions happen to be exactly those habits instilled by a good education in philosophy. My dissertation research focuses on the relationship between indeterminism and essential idealization with a special emphasis on well- and ill-posed problems. ( Log Out /  It is commonly said that the vacuum state is positively a buzzing hive of activity: pairs of “virtual particles” being created an annihilated all the time. →. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. But it is more likely to be asked, I think, by a philosopher. Relativistic quantum field theory raises some new conceptual questions, such as renormalization, but it does not present any new resources if one is interested in the measurement problem, the status of the wavefunction, the implications of Bell’s theorem, etc. Anyway, the blog is open for successful past and current collaborations (and also unsuccessful ones). It aims to explain what happens in our “black box” and how these events affect our way of acting, considering the stimuli we receive too. 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