Bonn 2020 – wissenschaftliches Programm

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AGPhil: Arbeitsgruppe Philosophie der Physik

AGPhil 6: Quantum Theory I

AGPhil 6.1: Hauptvortrag

Mittwoch, 1. April 2020, 16:30–17:15, H-HS III

Quantum metaphysics — •Alastair Wilson — University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

Philosophy, specifically natural philosophy, used to be our main route to understanding the deep underlying structure of reality. Physics emerged out of natural philosophy during the Scientific Revolution, and over the past few centuries it has come to seem as though physics is all we need to understand the natural world. But is there still any role for philosophy to play? In this talk I'll argue that metaphysics and physics overlap in their subject-matter, and that they can work together to help us understand some of the deepest mysteries of nature: chance, possibility and necessity. My focus is objective modality: the possibilities, necessities and contingencies inherent in nature (if any there be). What bearing does progress in physics have on objective modality? A prioristic modal metaphysics is conceived as demarcating a space of possibilities that is epistemically prior to and independent of the discoveries of science. Naturalistic metaphysics is metaphysics which brings scientific considerations to bear on modal questions; the greater the role given to science by an approach to modality, the more naturalistic that approach. I develop and defend a fully naturalistic reductive account of objective contingency in nature, drawing on resources from Everettian (many-worlds) quantum mechanics. I distinguish four degrees of naturalistic involvement in the theory of modality; the proposed quantum modal realism is naturalistic in all four senses. I also sketch some consequences of the account for the methodology of metaphysics.

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