Posts tagged ‘philosophy of science’

April 2nd, 2014

A List of Physical Values and What Happens When Changed

by Max Andrews

Constants of Space and Time.

  1. Planck length (the minimum interval of space), l= 1.62 x 10-33 cm.
  2. Planck time (the minimum interval of time), tp = 5.39 x 10-44 sec.
  3. Planck’s constant (this determines the minimum unit of energy emission), h = 6.6 x 10-34 joule seconds.
  4. Velocity of light, c = 300,000 km/sec.

Energy Constants.

  1. Gravitational attraction constant, G = 6.67 x 10-11 Nm2/kg2.
  2. Weak force coupling constant, gw = 1.43 x 10-62.
  3. Strong nuclear force coupling constant, gs = 15.

Individuating Constants (Composition of the Electromagnetic Force).

  1. Rest mass of a proton, mp =1.67 x 10-27 kg.
  2. Rest mass of an electron, me = 9.11 x 10-31 kg.
  3. The electron or proton unit charge, e = 1.6 x 10-19 coulombs.
  4. Minimum mass in our universe, (hc/G)½ = 2.18 x 10-8 kg.
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March 25th, 2014

Q&A 40: William Lane Craig on the Multiverse and Is Free Will Incoherent?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

I accidentally found your blog recently ! Lots of great stuff and I’ll be definitely reading more. 2 questions though

1) I was watching the Craig/Carroll debate on cosmology. Craig seemed to say that the Boltzmann brain problem was a problem for all multiverse models and Carroll said it was just a problem for certain models. Who’s right?

2)  There’s this argument free will is incoherent. It seems persuasive to me.

“Some people imagine that there’s a thing that takes part in human decision making called free will. They say that while our actions are certainly influenced by our past experience, and by desires which we haven’t chosen, free will ultimately decides what to do with these inputs—it decides whether or not to follow the path pointed to by our experience and desires or to veto that course of action and settle on another.

If this is really the case, on what basis does this free will choose whether or not to ‘take control’? And when it does take control, how does it decide what to do?

It certainly can’t be reaching its decisions according to our desires or past experience, because these factors are already represented by the ‘non-free’ part of our will. Free will, to earn its keep, must be operating differently. So what’s left as a basis for the decisions of free will? Maybe free will acts at random, but surely if that’s the case then it doesn’t seem to deserve to be called free at all.

February 26th, 2014

The Atheist Argument from Fine-Tuning is too Coarse

by Max Andrews

Believe it or not an atheist friend of mine has presented an argument from fine-tuning to demonstrate that God doesn’t exist. I think there are several different problem with the argument but I’ll be as charitable as possible to my anonymous friend @SkepticismFirst (SF).

Fine-tuning is something I’ve invested quite a bit of research in. My MA (philosophy) thesis was on the Fine-Tuning of Nomic Behavior in Multiverse Scenarios and I’m continuing that research right now in my PhD (University of Edinburgh). So, I’ve written quite extensively on this issue. Here are a few links to get the fine-tuning argument presented by the proponents of fine-tuning:

February 9th, 2014

Q&A 38: The Infinite Set of You in the Multiverse

by Max Andrews

Question

Dear Mr. Andrews,

I came upon your blog and I shall spend the better part of the night reading it, and I have a few questions about the multiverse that I don’t understand.

First off, why is it inevitable that some parallel universes would be identical to this one? Why would there be another me, identical down to each thought, instead of endlessly unique ones? That is to say, why would there be an infinite number of universes but only a finite variety of patterns?

Also, would endlessly different ones render the fantastic real? Unicorns and Greek gods roaming universes of their own?

Or have I missed what MWI supporters are trying to say?

Also, if the multiverse allows for at least a few super civilizations to exist, so powerful that they can create their own universes or cross others, then wouldn’t they essentially function as gods, albeit not our eternal one?

Thank you so much, and Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Katy Meyrick

December 20th, 2013

Science without Epistemology is Impossible

by Max Andrews

A robust epistemology is a sufficient condition for a successful pursuit of scientific inquiry.  There are many other factors and conditions that must be met for science but a vigorous epistemic model for how one pursues scientific inquiry is needed; otherwise, there may be sufficient reasons to doubt not only the conclusions of the scientific inquiry but as well as the pool of data, which must be assessed appropriately.  The scientist is more than welcome to pursue an empiricist model for his epistemology, though strict [naturalistic] empiricism is not very robust, but it must have certain allowances for metaphysical import—perhaps more rationalistic.

I believe the best way to construct a robust epistemology and scientific method is to be a realist.  What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality.  This is in contrast to instrumentalism/anti-realism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions.  An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.

For the scientific realist, the ontology of the world determines one’s epistemology.  They congruently correspond.  It is important to note the order of entailment.  Antecedently, reality determines our epistemology. 

December 14th, 2013

Is Constructive Empiricism a Viable Option between Realism and Anti-Realism?

by Max Andrews

Constructive empiricism (CE), primarily developed by Bas van Fraassen, regards theoretical identities rather than realistically. CE allows an empiricist approach to science without requiring the language and formulation of theory that the positivist uses.  When one affirms accepts CE one must believe what the theory says about observables, that is, one must believe that the theory is empirically adequate; but one does not have to believe the whole theory, including what it says about unobservables.  Van Fraassen argues that science can be understood without the strong realist approach.  Science’s aim becomes set on empirical adequacy rather than the full-blown truth.[1]

Van Fraassen defines an ‘observable’ as:

X is observable if there are circumstances such that, if X is present to us under those circumstances then we observe it.[2]

That which serves as an observation is not necessarily in the scope of philosophy.  The limits of observation are a subject for empirical science, and not for philosophical analysis.[3] Thus, a theory is empirically adequate if and only if what it says about the observable things and events in this world is true.

Empiricism set limits on what one is rationally obligated to believe.  Van Fraassen makes the distinction between acceptance and belief.  There is no commitment, under CE, to believe the truth of the theory but one can accept the empirical data.  This is very modest in its commitment to the informative power of a theory. 

December 12th, 2013

“The Suitability of Aristotelian Metaphysics for Theism” EPS 2013 Paper

by Max Andrews

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 11.52.42 AMI recently coauthored a paper with Dave Beck (Liberty University, Department of Philosophy): “The Suitability of Aristotelian Metaphysics for Theism”  presented at the Evangelical Philosophical Society in Baltimore, MD (November 2013). We primarily focus on critiques of Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics offered by Richard Swinburne and Lydia Jaeger. Dave primary contribution was the body-soul discussion and I focussed on Christian thought and science and our Thomistic cosmological argument. This version of the argument is something that we’ve developed over the last year or two. He also worked with my contributions as well. It was a mixed and shared effort by both of us.

Swinburne actually sat in and listened to the presentation. Afterwards, he said the critiques were fair and accurate. Likewise, he agreed that Jaeger should be read and discussed more in Christian philosophy/theology and liked our critique of her as well. He has since offered for us to send him our paper so he can review and critique it. That is certainly an honor and privilege. We haven’t finalized plans for a journal submission but I suspect we may plan to do that in the near future.

Here is our introduction to the paper:

Not just a few current philosophers and theologians have asserted that the metaphysics of Aristotle, even after it was transformed and adapted by Thomas Aquinas, will not meet any or all the requirements of a robust Christian Theism. There is nothing new about that. Both among the Patristics and the Medievals were those who for various reasons rejected Peripatetic metaphysics, primarily for its alleged physicalism. Of course the Condemnations of 1277 didn’t help things either. While directed principally against Averroistic Aristotelianism that was infecting the University of Paris, 20 of the 219 condemned theses were Thomistic. Nevertheless, Thomas would prevail, not only to sainthood, but to become the patron of education and the Teacher of the Church.

November 29th, 2013

Would Multiple Universes Rule Out Fine-Tuning?

by Max Andrews

The multiverse hypothesis is the leading alternative to the competing fine-tuning hypothesis.  The multiverse dispels many aspects of the fine-tuning argument by suggesting that there are different initial conditions in each universe, varying constants of physics, and the laws of nature lose their known arbitrary values; thus, making the previous single-universe argument from fine-tuning incredibly weak.  There are four options for why a fine-tuning is either unnecessary to invoke or illusory if the multiverse hypothesis is used as an alternative explanans. Fine-tuning might be (1) illusory if life could adapt to very different conditions or if values of constants could compensate each other. Additionally, (2) it might be a result of chance or (3) it might be nonexistent because nature could not have been otherwise.  With hopes of discovering a fundamental theory of everything all states of affairs in nature may perhaps be tautologous.  Finally, (4) it may be a product of cosmic Darwinism, or cosmic natural selection, making the measured values quite likely within a multiverse of many different values. In this paper I contend that multiverse scenarios are insufficient in accounting for the fine-tuning of the laws of nature and that physicists and cosmologists must either accept it as a metaphysical brute fact or seriously entertain the hypothesis of a fine-tuner.

I.  Outlining the Multiverse Hierarchy

Contemporary physics seem to indicate that there are good reasons, theoretically and physically, for the postulation a plurality of worlds.  This concept has come to be understood as the multiverse.  The multiverse is not monolithic, but it is modeled after the contemporary understanding of an inflationary model of the beginning of this universe.  Max Tegmark has championed the field of precision cosmology and has proposed the most prominent versions of the multiverse.[1]  Tegmark has made a four-way distinction in classifying these models.

November 17th, 2013

A Theological Argument for Many Worlds

by Max Andrews

The following is the abstract to Don Page’s paper, “A Theological Argument for an Everett Multiverse.”

Science looks for the simplest hypotheses to explain observations. Starting with the simple assumption that {\em the actual world is the best possible world}, I sketch an {\it Optimal Argument for the Existence of God}, that the sufferings in our universe would not be consistent with its being alone the best possible world, but the total world could be the best possible if it includes an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God who experiences great value in creating and knowing a universe with great mathematical elegance, even though such a universe has suffering.

October 6th, 2013

Cosmic Darwinism: Evolving Laws of Nature?

by Max Andrews

The following are a few questions raised in light of Rupert Sheldrake’s The Science Delusion: Freeing The Spirit Of Enquiry. 

The argument that he advances in the chapter involves something he calls ‘habits’, which are “a kind of memory inherent in nature”. (From what I understand, he has also advanced this within a theory of ‘morphic resonance’ in his other published works.) Putting aside his case for these ‘habits’, three questions that he poses to materialists at the end of the chapter caught my eye:

1) If the laws of nature existed before the Big Bang, and governed the Big Bang from its first instant, where were they?

2) If the laws and constants of nature all came into being at the moment of the Big Bang, how does the universe remember them? Where are they ‘imprinted’?

3) How do you know that the laws of nature are fixed and not evolutionary?