Posts tagged ‘philosophy of science’

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?

October 3rd, 2013

Quantum Entanglement and the Many Worlds Interpretation

by Max Andrews

Erwin Schrödinger introduced quantum entanglement in a 1935 paper[1] delivered to the Cambridge Philosophical Society in which he argued that the state of a system of two particles that have interacted generally cannot be written as a product of individual states of each particle.

|Particle A interacting with B〉 ≠ |A〉|B〉

Such a state would be an entanglement of individual states in which one cannot say with any certainty which particle is in which state. Disentanglement occurs when a measurement is made.[2] This is what gave rise to Schrödinger’s famous (or infamous) cat illustration, which will be useful in understanding the role of measurement and the following consequent for a quantum version of many worlds.

The non-interactive state of two particles cannot be expressed as a certain conjunction of the two states. An example of an entangled state is

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 1.38.29 PM

August 29th, 2013

Michael Denton’s New Paper That Argues for the Fine-Tuning of the “Laws of Form”

by Max Andrews

Original source from Evolution News & Views.

In a new peer-reviewed paper in BIO-Complexity, Michael Denton challenges the view that biological organisms are accidents of random mutation and natural selection, instead adopting a structuralist view that body plans are like Platonic “types,” woven into the fabric of nature.

According to Denton, a biochemist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, this perspective, popular before Darwin wrote Origin of Species in 1859, “was not based, as Darwinists often claim, on a priori philosophical belief in Platonic concepts, but rather upon the empirical finding that a vast amount of biological complexity, including the deep homologies which define the taxa of the natural system, appears to be of an abstract, non-adaptive nature that is sometimes of a strikingly numerical and geometric character.”

August 1st, 2013

Transcript and Thoughts on My Debate with Justin Schieber

by Max Andrews

Over the last month or two I’ve been working on a written/audio debate with Justin Schieber of Reasonable Doubts. The topic of the debate was “Does the Christian God Exist?” I imagine the debate may have been released earlier had it not been for my delayed responses due to health issues and moving out of our house and preparing to embark on our move to Scotland. I have apologized to Mr. Schieber concerning this and I extend apologies to the readers and listeners.

I was actually expecting much stronger arguments from Mr. Schieber. Two arguments were off topic and the other one was a far metaphysical and modal stretch. You’ll be able to read his arguments in full but here are my thoughts :