Metaphysics and Methodology in Gravity and Cosmology Workshop

February 26, 2020
Beyond Spacetime project, University of Illinois at Chicago/University of Geneva

University Hall Room 1430
601 S Morgan St
United States

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


University of Illinois, Chicago

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11-12: Neal Dewar - An intrinsic theory of quantity: In this talk, I show how one can given an account of the intrinsic structure of scalar and vector quantities, including how such quantities may be algebraically combined with one another. I apply these ideas to give an intrinsic account of Newtonian gravitation, and comment on the implications for the debate between absolutists and comparativists about quantity.  

12 - lunch provided  

12.15-1.15: Eddy Keming Chen - Nomic Vagueness: In this talk, we consider a new source of vagueness—vagueness in the fundamental laws of nature, which we shall refer to as 'nomic vagueness.' We define the phenomenon of nomic vagueness as the existence of borderline worlds that are not determinately lawful, in analogy with the definition of semantic vagueness of baldness as the existence of borderline cases of being bald. Although it is already a feature of the collapse postulate in the orthodox quantum theory, nomic vagueness only becomes a serious possibility if we are open to include something like the Past Hypothesis among the fundamental laws of nature. The Past Hypothesis, a postulate about the low-entropic macrostate of the early universe, contains macroscopic terms that only vaguely correspond to sets of microstates. Nomic vagueness is accommodated much more naturally by Humean analyses of laws than anti-Humean ones, and by the semantic approach to vagueness than the epistemicist approach (in the case of PH). While nomic vagueness is a robust feature in standard frameworks of Boltzmannian statistical mechanics, it disappears in a new framework of quantum statistical mechanics where we connect the initial macrostate to the micro-dynamics. Far from making the world fuzzy or indeterminate, quantum theory can bring more exactness to the nomological structure of the world.   

1.20-2.20: Niels Linnemann - In Favour of a Philosophy of Generation: a Plea from Quantum Gravity: Philosophy of discovery, in particular philosophy of generation, still is a rather neglected field in the philosophy of science. Drawing on the case of quantum gravity research, I explicate relevant senses in which a systematic philosophy of generation is possible, and indeed needed.  

2.20 - tea and biscuits

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February 25, 2020, 7:00am CST

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