Posts tagged ‘philosophy of science’

July 25th, 2014

A New Cosmological Argument: EPS 2014

by Max Andrews

This year’s Evangelical Philosophical Society Annual Conference will be in San Diego, California, USA (500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, California 92108). I will be presenting from 0920 to 1000 on Wednesday in EPS Session A4 in Windsor.

This is the third year in a row I’ve had a paper accepted for presentation at EPS (coauthoring with Dave Beck). This paper will help thresh out some of my research concerning the behaviour of natural law as well as methodology in a philosophy of cosmology. In the paper I will be able to examine different cosmological models (primarily multiverse models) and consider the necessitarian vs. regularity debate as well as the metaphysical and modal status of natural law and the ontological furniture of all reality. This is relevant to several sections of my thesis and the peer feedback offered by conferences such as this are vital to have external minds critiquing my proposed models for many universes and, what I believe to be, the radical metaphysical contingency of worlds.

July 7th, 2014

Many Worlds and Modal Realism – Tyndale Fellowship Paper

by Max Andrews

I recently returned from my journey to Cambridge University where I presented a paper titled “The Ontology of Many Worlds and Thomistic Modal Realism”. This paper is a continuation of research from this summer’s forthcoming Philosophia Christi publication “God and the Multiverse” I coauthored with Dave Beck.

The part of the paper that pertains particularly to the philosophy of science is also a part of doctoral research. There is another version of this paper that is more detailed though it excludes the initial theological/historical aspects. I included the theological preface for the presentation since it’s a continuation of “God and the Multiverse”. The current, more detailed technical paper has been submitted to a journal and is currently under review.

DOWNLOAD “The Ontology of Many Worlds and Thomistic Modal Realism”

I received excellent feedback from the attendees and I’m grateful for the critiques.

DOWNLOAD AND LISTEN TO THE PRESENTATION AUDIO DOWNLOAD THE CORRESPONDING POWERPOINT

May 3rd, 2014

Philosophical Fragments Botches the Multiverse

by Max Andrews

Philosophical Fragments is a blog with Patheos and there was a guest post (don’t hold it against he actual blog owner, it’s a guest) named Mark Goldblatt (I’m not certain that’s the author but notice his employer and notice what he’s writing on… I’m just saying…) titled “Bad Epistemology.” Let me begin by telling you what I really think… I think this post is full of bad science, bad philosophy, bad semantics, quibbling over spilled milk, and botches the multiverse is an embarrassingly bad way. Aaaand, yes, there are some good things and I won’t forget to highlight them either.

If you want to argue against the multiverse [or quantum issues], fine, but do so in an informed and more educated manner than this.

Goldblatt begins his epic rant by discussing contemporary science’s search and desire to discover the truth about the cosmos and the origin of life. Quoting Neil deGrasse Tyson from the reinstatement of Cosmos:

“If you take the universe all the way back to the Big Bang, well, the entire universe was really small. So now you take the shotgun wedding – quantum physics and general relativity. In that shotgun wedding, if you follow through with all the predictions quantum physics gives you, it allows multiple bubbles to form – one of which is our universe. These are sorts of fluctuations in the quantum foam. Quantum physics fluctuates all the time. But now the fluctuations are not just particles coming into and out of existence, which happens all the time. It’s whole universes coming into and out of existence.”

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.