Structural realism and the nature of structure

by Scientia Salon Our new pick for a "notable" paper is Jonas R. Becker Arenhart and Otavio Bueno's "Structural realism and the nature of structure," published in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 5:111-139, 2015. (Full text here, free.) Here is the abstract: Ontic Structural Realism is a version of realism about science according to which by positing … Continue reading Structural realism and the nature of structure

Quantum mechanics and scientific realism

by Quentin Ruyant One of the main tasks of philosophy is to clarify conceptual problems and sketch the landscape of possible solutions to these problems. Of course, individual philosophers often tend to defend specific positions, but what emerges at the level of the community is, generally, a landscape of possibilities. Take, for example, the question … Continue reading Quantum mechanics and scientific realism

APA 2014-5: On the Reality of Atoms and Subatomic Particles

by Massimo Pigliucci This is going to be my last report from the 2014 meetings of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association. Obviously, it has been a rather idiosyncratic set of choices, reflecting my own interests, not necessarily the (much) broader scope of the meeting. Now if I could only convince some of … Continue reading APA 2014-5: On the Reality of Atoms and Subatomic Particles

APA 2014-2: Against causal reductionism

by Massimo Pigliucci Second report from this year's meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association. This session, under the general heading of philosophy of science, was actually constituted of just one talk, entitled “Against causal reductionism” and delivered by Chris Weaver (Rutgers University) (the session was chaired by Michael Hicks, Rutgers University). … Continue reading APA 2014-2: Against causal reductionism

Is there (still) a continental-analytic divide in philosophy?

by Massimo Pigliucci As is well known (to philosophers), perhaps one of the most controversial, often even acrimonious [1], splits in modern philosophy is the one between the so-called “analytic” and “continental” approaches. To simplify quite a bit, the split has become apparent during the 20th century, though it can be traced back to the … Continue reading Is there (still) a continental-analytic divide in philosophy?

The natural, the supernatural, and the nature of science

by Paul Braterman Science, it is often said, is restricted in principle to the search for natural causes and the rejection of the supernatural; call this intrinsic methodological naturalism (IMN). Here, following the work of Boudry et al. [1], I argue that this view is misguided and damaging. We have not precluded supernatural claims from … Continue reading The natural, the supernatural, and the nature of science

String theory and post-empiricism

by Peter Woit Last month’s conference in Princeton included two remarkable talks by prominent physicists, both of whom invoked philosophy in a manner unprecedented for this kind of scientific gathering. On the first day, Paul Steinhardt attacked the current practice of inflationary cosmology as able to accommodate any experimental result, so, on philosophical grounds, no … Continue reading String theory and post-empiricism

The evidence crisis

by Jim Baggott Thanks to a kind invitation from the Simons and John Templeton Foundations and the World Science Festival, last Friday (30 May) I participated in a public discussion on ‘Evidence in the Natural Sciences’ with Professors Brian Greene and Peter Galison. This discussion was the final act in a one-day symposium of the … Continue reading The evidence crisis

The multiverse as a scientific concept — part II

by Coel Hellier [The first part of this essay can be found here.] Inflation The comparison of cosmological models with high-quality and detailed observations of the early universe has led to the "inflationary'' version of the Big Bang. This hypothesizes that, very early in the first second after the initial quantum fluctuation, only about 10-35 … Continue reading The multiverse as a scientific concept — part II

The multiverse as a scientific concept — part I

by Coel Hellier The multiverse concept is often derided as "unscientific'' and an example of physicists indulging in metaphysical speculation of the sort they would usually deplore. For example, commenters here at Scientia Salon have said that the multiverse is "by definition not verifiable and thus outside the bounds of empirical science,’' and that "advocates … Continue reading The multiverse as a scientific concept — part I