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10 December 2012
Moj mu!ek Nenad Jari" Dauenhauer napravio super interview o super temi. :) http://www.tportal.hr/scitech/znanost/230988/Je-li-filozofija-mrtva-kao-sto-tvrdiHawking.html#.UMW5q5G9KSM
Je li filozofija mrtva kao !to tvrdi Hawking? www.tportal.hr Ugledni ameri#ki filozof znanosti Tim Maudlin, profesor na Sveu#ili$tu u New Yorku, koji je pro$li tjedan sudjelovao na simpoziju 'Filozofija u dijalogu sa znanostima' u Zagrebu, poku$ao je u intervjuu za tportal pojasniti koje je mjesto filozofije u suvremenom svijetu kojim dominira znanost te koja... 1070 Like % % Share &Tamara Cacev and 9 others like this.&
&Boris Lenhard Pitat "u i ovdje: "Uloga filozofa je da upozore fizi#are da ne bismo trebali biti zadovoljni samo prediktivnom to#no$"u, ve" da trebamo tragati za razumijevanjem onoga $to stvarno jest. " A question for professor Maudlin: How do you know when you have gotten there? How do you know when you have accomplished the kind of understanding that you are seeking? This is a question central to whether what you are trying to accomplish is meaningful or not. So far I have asked that question on several occasions, and I haven't heard or read any answers to it that are even remotely satisfactory.&11 December 2012 at 00:14 % Like&
&Tihana Dauenhauer Vishnya Maudlin? - jer ja ne znam odgovor. Pa ako "e ona imati vremena.&11 December 2012 at 07:25 via mobile % Like&
&Boris Lenhard Pitanje izri#ito nije za Vi$nju. Nego za Tima. Vi$nju sam ve" poku$ao pitati.&11 December 2012 at 10:37 % Like&
&Tihana Dauenhauer Ok. I will tag his name. Maybe he will find some time to answer your question. He is very busy at the moment. But, who knows. Tim Maudlin?&11 December 2012 at 10:40 via mobile % Like&
&Tim Maudlin In response: there is a positive and a negative aspect to this. In a positive sense, one will never be able to certain that any precise theory is, in fact, the true account. There may be alternative theories that are known and provably empirically equivalent, and so cannot be decided by data. There can be theories than make different empirical predictions in principle but cannot be checked in practice. And there can be theories than no one has thought up, or even, given human capacities, can think up. So certainty in the positive sense is not going to be had.&11 December 2012 at 11:21 % Like % 1&
&Tim Maudlin But, in a negative sense, one can see that some approaches are internally inconsistent, or not precisely defined. The most common approaches to understanding quantum theory fall in this category. If the basic axioms of the theory invoke measurement, for example, but no precise account of what counts as a measurement is given, then theory is, as Bell would say, unprofessionally vague. Given vague rules of thumb the theory can be used to make predictions, but it is not even a candidate for a precise physical account. Some precisely defined, mathematically exact approaches to understanding quantum phenomena do exist, but the majority of practicing physicists are not aware of them and do not appreciate the problems they solve. This is due to an odd history that goes back to Bohr. What we want to do is develop as many exact theories as possible, and see how far data can go to decide between them. No one expects complete certainty to come at the end.&11 December 2012 at 11:27 % Like % 1&
&Boris Lenhard (EDIT: this is only a response to the first part of the answer) Professor Maudlin, thank you for your response. However, I feel none the cleverer for it. I still do not understand what understanding means in this context (no pun intended). If theories are empirically equivalent, what is the criterion for choosing one over another? Is it, what Roger Penrose suggests, that one would feel more right than the other? Isn't there a danger of confounding the truth (or reality) with the simple preference for a model that is more within our intellectual/cognitive comfort zone - which is basically an aesthetic criterion, and a rather anthropocentric
So your claim that it is rejected for lack of predictive power is obviously false. then I have no idea what you are comfortable with. 6000 years-timepoint is an extra parameter. most people who believe the Earth is 6000 years old. etc. I don't see one). in the sense that it can be made consistent with all data.000 years ago in the state that orthodox science says it had 6.6 billion years old (or universe 13 billiion years) in that it has more parameters and/or actors. That idea we cannot dismiss out right . That is where Occam's razor comes in handy. one could argue that the world was really made 6000 years ago. no scientist would take it seriously.but for practical purposes there is no difference and no way to know. No predictive power is lost by ditching it. It makes precisely the same predictions for all future experiments. "As for quantum theory. with apparent evidence for a longer age (dinosaur bones. I would not call the grounds for rejecting the theory just mentioned either aesthetic or anthropomorphic.&11 December 2012 at 12:08 % Like& &Boris Lenhard " The theory I mentioned—that the universe came into existence 6. If you think that "Occam's razor" settles the issue. If denying either of those criteria is inside your "comfort zone". (Or.to me. If some interpretations of QM introduce new variables to make the QM more BELIEVABLE as an account of physical world. That is where Occam's razor comes in handy. Understanding the phenomenon is getting the true account of it. believe it in the former sense (the one with no predictive power).000 years ago—obviously has exactly the same predictive power as the orthodox theory. What you (and many other people) mean by understanding.6 billion years old. the latter sense differs from the account that the Earth is 4. but that God made it to look precisely as it was 4. no scientist would take it seriously. not elsewhere (as you seem to imply). (Or. aren't we?&11 December 2012 at 11:58 % Like& &Tim Maudlin The theory I mentioned—that the universe came into existence 6. That idea we cannot dismiss out right .) intact. some people have believed that the universe was created 6. there can be no empirical basis to reject the theory. that is where one acts rationally or not. Second. etc. still refers to a model and consists of 1) knowledge of the assumptions of the model.000 years ago. 5 minutes old). true.I am still only a biologist. 5 minutes old). Equally clearly.) intact. I would call them rational. one could argue that the world was really made 6000 years ago. I said for the theory overfitted to the Genesis account that it has no predictive power. Clearly. so your sense is purely academic. please state just what you think the principle is and how it settles the case. as by Bertrand Russell.000 years ago—obviously has exactly the same predictive power as the orthodox theory. The hard question is how one can have good grounds for believing that an account is. but that God made it to look precisely as it was 4.000 years ago in the state that orthodox science says it had 6. I said precisely what you are saying: "Of course. to slash all the unnecessary variables and actors . then your opinion is not scientific. For the scenario you mentioned (6000 years or 5 minutes). What you are after is easy to state. I take it that a decent account should have as a consequence that experiments have determinate outcomes and should be mathematically well defined. as by Bertrand Russell.6 billion years old.but for practical purposes there is no difference and no way to know. but there are other grounds for making judgments.attitude to begin with? (Sorry if I use some terms in a crude ir imprecise way . I take it that a decent account should have as a consequence that experiments have determinate outcomes and should be mathematically well defined. As for quantum theory. 2) knowledge of the predictive consequences of the model. we are back to chasing the comfort zone.it is a model overfitted to one ancient set of (made-up) data (Genesis) and each new observation of the real world clashes with it and only very convoluted retrofitting could be attempted to reconcile it.&11 December 2012 at 11:45 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard "Understanding the phenomenon is getting the true account of it. So your claim that it is rejected for lack of predictive power is obviously false. please read what I wrote again. " First. some people have believed that the universe was created 6. Clearly. Of course. There is no way to make beliefs objective or to decide that they do correspond to reality. in fact.000 years ago. If you want to state that you yourself think it is no more reasonable to believe that the universe began about 13 billion years ago than that it began 5 minute ago. with apparent evidence for a longer age (dinosaur bones. there is no way of claiming one has understood it. " No. " This only means. If denying either of those criteria is inside . as I see it. which is completely arbitrary (could indeed be any timepoint). " No scienctist would take it seriously because the empirical basis to reject the theory that the world is 6000 years old is that it has no predictive power . It makes precisely the same predictions for all future experiments. For example. "For example. there can be no empirical basis to reject the theory. )&11 December 2012 at 11:27 % Like % 1& &Tim Maudlin You are confusing two separate issues. Empirical data go some way to addressing this. in the sense that it can be made consistent with all data. So there are other grounds on which such judgments can be made. if there is no objective criterion for getting a true account of phenomenon (and from what you are saying. and 3) BELIEF that the model is a true physical description of the phenomenon. These are most usefully discussed on a case-by-case basis. Equally clearly.
but by all accounts you have been unspeakably and indefensibly obnoxious to her. then a lot of background has to be provided. rational ground for thinking that the world existed 10 minutes ago or is it just "what you are comfortable with"? If the former. at least to me. I would expect that you want cats to end up either alive or dead. On the other hand. As for "what we are comfortable with". even if it is 10 minutes or 6000 years old." I am a biologist. and everyone else on the blog. If you are happy to forgo that. I have an academic job. That is what I mean by a determinate outcome. just the criteria for "understanding what really is".&11 December 2012 at 12:27 % Like& &Boris Lenhard "As a biologist. On the other hand. then you are outside of scientific opinion. since I still do not know what you mean by "understanding". while I do not understand anywhere nearly enough about quantum mechanics or its . I am still not convinced that "what really is" is not simply an overambitious code for "what we are comfortable with". Please directly answer: do you think you have a defensible. defensible reasons for preferring one over another.&11 December 2012 at 12:42 % Like& &Tim Maudlin SInce I asked a straightforward question half an hour ago and there is no answer. In the model that claims that the world as we know it was made into existence 10 minutes (or 6000 years) ago. you just are not understanding the issue. I would expect that you want cats to end up either alive or dead.&11 December 2012 at 13:29 % Like& &Boris Lenhard "Again. even after Schrödinger's experiment. Rather than being alternative explanations. Perhaps it really is the limitation of our cognitive apparatus and the macroscopic scale that we inhabit that we expect that. the numbers 13 or 4. The issue about the cat I mentioned is not about what happens before you look but what happens after. then a lot of background has to be provided." I did not intend to discuss the interpretation of quantum theory. If you are not really conversant with the issues surrounding the interpretation of quantum theory. "Please directly answer: do you think you have a defensible. and would have been able to say enlightening and useful things about them.6 billion . The difference between the two is that the former at least im my view is supposed to be objective.6 billion). 1) You have not though clearly about grounds for belief in theories that go beyond predictive adequacy.by studying the properties of the world as it is. I reach 2 conclusions and a comment. these are just arbitrary values of an additional. rational ground for thinking that the world existed 10 minutes ago or is it just "what you are comfortable with"? If the former. a textbook application of Occam's razor. arbitrary parameter that come out of nowhere.&11 December 2012 at 12:34 % Like& &Tim Maudlin Again. I do not necessarily crave determinate outcomes in your sense.as extrapolations. but no. It doubles the problem. Getting rid of such parameters is.your "comfort zone"." Not really. "If you are not really conversant with the issues surrounding the interpretation of quantum theory. too The answer is coming in a few minutes. even after Schrödinger's experiment. That is a straightforward demand of an adequate physics. while the latter can never be. They need an objective measure of progress. that is your own notion and has nothing at all to do with anything I said. I had a meeting in the meantime. 2) You do not understand the interpretive problems that confront the quantum formalism. in _this_case_ there are rational. That is why most practicing physicists probably do not appreciate it. 6000 years or 10 minutes will not come out of anywhere. not a physicist. That is what I mean by a determinate outcome. I wouldn't be surprised if no interpretation of quantum mechanics would ever tell you what happened to the cat before you actually look.&11 December 2012 at 12:22 % Like& &Tim Maudlin As a biologist. If the latter. and are unnecessary for the model. then you think there are rational grounds for preferring one theory over another that is not just a matter of prediction. " I think that. then I have no idea what you are comfortable with.6 billion will come out of the model . 10 minutes (or 6000 years) is not a replacement for 13 billion or 4. I infer that you have no adequate answer. you just are not understanding the issue.&11 December 2012 at 13:13 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard Wrong inference sir. The comment is this: my wife understands both of these things perfectly well. could be replaced by any other value. and if there is a physical account of the process of looking. an apology. if you work out the details under the assumptions that the Universe is 13 billion years old (or Earth 4. then you think there are rational grounds for preferring one theory over another that is not just a matter of prediction. " Quite possibly. while we have no means of distinguishing between the two scenarios. I have no idea what you think is acceptable. You owe her.
e. and Schrodinger was very dissatisfied with the sorts of thing Bohr was saying. Brownian motion). I will defend that it would be. But as I said at the beginning.. isn't it at least obvious that the knowledge of what you have accomplished is not necessary to be a world leading cosmologist.&11 December 2012 at 13:48 % Like& &Boris Lenhard Incidentally.g. They just want a clear physical account of the interaction..&11 December 2012 at 13:43 % Like& &Boris Lenhard "The comment is this: my wife understands both of these things perfectly well. These are the complaints of a leading physicist about the lack of clarity and rigor in physics. as you repeatedly suggest. I think Bell is perfectly correct. which does not prevent them from leading the way in science? The question then becomes . I don't think that very much of a general nature can be said here: one has to look at the particular case. Bell and Schrödinger.. one might well say that cosmology has no practical aspect at all. But. That might be the reason why there are top practicing physicists whom you cannot convince to take your path. of the sort the Newton offered. As for whether actual scientific practice would be improved in cosmology if there was more rigorous and clear thinking. but there is no reason to think that those will generalize to other cases. the questions of Einstein.that it simply provides no useful input to working physicists (such as him)." I apologise for being obnoxious to your wife (in which I admit that I went way overboard even for my relaxed standards). Nor is it a demand for something familiar or comforting.g. He really might not be up to date with developments in philosophy of physics. Poincare who took the atomic hypothesis purely instrumentally. But one could not have accomplished what Bell did without having a high regard for rigor and clarity. while avoiding the temptation to suggest that those who decline the invitation are bad scientists .&11 December 2012 at 18:53 % Like % 1& &Tim Maudlin One then proceeds in two steps. Of course. for example. I could give you the sorts of considerations that. Or you could go back all the way to the Copernican Revolution. and I can provide any amount or detail you like about why the textbook versions of quantum theory are not up to proper profession standards of clarity and rigor. I suggest you at least start with John Bell's essay "Against 'Measurement'". say. I tried to have a reasoned discussion. the textbook version is. i. You also might reflect on the difference between. but by all accounts you have been unspeakably and indefensibly obnoxious to her. First. I am pretty sure that practicing physicists would have done it themselves by now.&11 December 2012 at 19:14 % Like % 1& . according to which Schrödinger's cat is neither definitely alive nor dead until a certain sort of physical interaction takes place. One can. For All Practical Purposes. and Boltzmann and again Einstein who took atoms seriously as a physical posit and then were able to work out the consequences of the posit for phenomena that had not been considered (e. formulate as many precise theories consistent with the data as possible. If you personally have no interest in this sort of clarity. no doubt. if one (or several) leading cosmologists can become leading cosmologists without being aware of what you and your colleagues have accomplished. If you really want to understand the situation. which you suggest has been seamlessly integrated with cutting-edge physics. I think. Nor what Einstein did. The idea that physics ought to offer proposals with a clear account of what exists and the precise. but we again have to get into technical detail (e. Indeed. mathematically formulated dynamical laws that govern it is not something that only philosophers want. Everyone in foundations I know is happy to consider theories. and would have been able to say enlightening and useful things about them. expressed in precise mathematical terms.interpretations. I am quite confident that what you are trying to achieve there is unrelated to what I have just described above. What we can do is advocate for some of the same intellectual virtues that Einstein demanded. The bottom line. become a "leading cosmologist" while having confused or incoherent views on foundational issues. The issues that I focus on have to with the the foundations of physics.should scientists pay attention to what you are doing? I think it is your job to convince the scientist that they should. but serve to cater to one's (religious or cognitive) preconceptions is just not science. This is not the case. but it started when she accused me of not understanding and not being able to understand what I am doing as a scientist rather that trying to explain the issues and to defend her opinions. as John Bell said. I agree that Hawking's remark on the death of philosophy was wrong and uncalled for. making predictive models more complicated and adding additional parameters that will not improve their predictive ability. which can go be somewhat vague names like "simplicity" or "obeying Occam's razor" to much more exact accounts in terms of various confirmation theories. at present date? Could Hawking's hyperbole have meant just that . make the GRW collapse theory less plausible theory than a Bohmian theory. there is probably nothing to be said. when and instrumentalist approach (all we want are hypothesis from which one can calculate planetary positions) was rejected in favor a a demand for a clear physical account of what is going on. There have been many such criteria proposed and used in the history of science.because many are clearly not bad at all. But there are other purposes than practical purposes. are somehow merely philosophical and not scientific is to denigrate the greatest scientists in history. The strongest proponents of the sort of clarity in the foundations of physics that I am advocating were Einstein and Bell. about so-called "black hole complimentarily") that is probably of no professional interest to you.but neither are almost all physicists. Only once this is done can one ask whether there are some rational grounds other than simple empirical accuracy for thinking some of the theories to be more plausible than others. and in many cases is anti-science.. but some attitudes just bring out the worst in me. Philosophers of physics are not Einstein. But to think that these questions.&11 December 2012 at 14:53 % Like& &Tim Maudlin The problem is that you keep thinking that the sort of thing that philosophers want is different in kind from what physicists want. fine FAPP. If it was.
for spelling and grammatical errors.&12 December 2012 at 09:24 % Like % 1& &Tim Maudlin I really think you ought to have at least some actual data or examples to back up the claims you . I can tell you that science (and by all criteria by which both scientist and society measure it. Philosophers might help. One either has demonstrably unjustified assumptions. one will never become a leading cosmologist (or biologist) by trying to come up with a clear. conclusions which do not follow.. this is bound to create conflict. Your ranking of importance of physicists is quite different from the consensus of practicing physicists (with Bell and Bohm .I can assure you that I wrote it with the best intention to clarify my view. this would likely would have halted the progress of molecular biology by several decades. and Schrodinger was very dissatisfied with the sorts of thing Bohr was saying. and not merely _explore_. The problem .is that what you consider foundational issues (in science) are simply not foundational issues in their view. (sorry. both from the viewpoint of biology and from the viewpoint of a biologist's career. I am the scientist of a kind you or your equivalent in philosophy of biology would have to deal with). Lenhard sounds somewhat intentionaly provocative. That is a problem that somebody who tries to do what you are doing cannot afford to either ignore or treat with what may even remotely look like contempt (and some attitudes do appear like that).[. is welcome to do the science him/herself. coherent view of [what to you look like] foundational issues instead of focusing on problems in which he/she can make real and . Since practising scientists are still the ones doing science and deciding which of the existing scientific results are fundamentally worthy of building upon. and that Professor Maudlin would be interested in what scientists think and how to have a more productive dialogue with them. I don't have spell check on my mobile phone)&12 December 2012 at 09:22 via mobile % Like& &Boris Lenhard I did not mean to be provocative . you and your colleagues in philosophy of science have no problem denigrating many other of the greatest scientists in history." The reason I keep thinking this is that your criteria for the plausibility of Bohm vs GRW vs Everitt interpretation of quantum theory (of which I know nowhere nearly enough to have my own opinion) are against the majority opinion of practicing physicists. "Einstein. Even now." I would never call philosophical questions "merely philosophical" but I would also not call philosophical questions scientific merely because they were asked about scientific theories by people who also did some groundbreaking science. you imply (or at least that is what often appears) that your criteria for estimating the greatness of scientists are somehow superior to those of practising scientists themselves. It can phenotypically manifest itself as general dissatisfaction.anybody who thinks that he/she has a better way of doing science. part ways . the sample of scientists that he will get to talk to is unlikely to be representative.]" The problem is that most often. Most good scientists are neither muddle-headed nor confused about what they are trying to do. From what I can see. Well.&Boris Lenhard "The problem is that you keep thinking that the sort of thing that philosophers want is different in kind from what physicists want. precisely because they did not ask the questions that _you_ find interesting or they explicitly found those questions uninteresting.) "The strongest proponents of the sort of clarity in the foundations of physics that I am advocating were Einstein and Bell. Any good scientist whom you cannot convince about your view of what is important in science will tell you . attempting to define a gene exactly (which I could discuss in much more detail) is a progress-halting effort. "One can. even though I am no physicist and definitely no Einstein or Bell.and I think this is where you and many practicing scientists. expressing contempt toward such state of affairs is likely to antagonise you to many world-leading scientists. but they job is to clearly identify questions they can meaningfully and unambiguously _answer_. Telling scientists how they should go about their business from the sidelines is simply not going to fly. become a "leading cosmologist" while having confused or incoherent views on foundational issues. Francis Crick (a physicist by training) said that if in the 1960s their goal was to define a gene exactly. and with objections to Bohr. In doing that. or predictive power that is lacking._measurable_ progress in one's lifetime. or Bohr. Bell and Schrödinger. are somehow merely philosophical and not scientific is to denigrate the greatest scientists in history. where I tried to convince them that no working biologist would spend any effort on trying to come up with an exact an universally true definition of the concept. "dissatisfaction" with what somebody is saying is not a relevant criterion for finding problems with one's science.much higher up the list than most physicists would put them.wait for it . very successful science) simply does not work like that. no doubt. Without it. but they cannot prescribe what is important. where a list that practicing biologists would come up with would be very very different from that assembled by either philosophers of biology or by non-biologists in general. I had a long and occasionally unpleasant discussion first with Vi$nja then with Pavel about the (un)importance of defining the concept of "gene" in biology. I must admit that it got my attention. Heisenberg or Dirac most practising physicists would not find relevant or at least not scientifically relevant). Again.it is not meant to be. but it has to be accompanied by a clear case against either assumptions. including world-leading ones.especially Bell ." Well if you trust me to speak as a scientist who works with other scientists (and. I apologise if anything in the comment sounds disrespectful . conclusions that do not follow from assumptions+observations. even though to a philosopher looking from the outside it looks like an inexcusably irresponsible attitude to leave such "foundational issue" "confused" or "incoherent".. (It is similar with the ranking of living biologists by importance. or a superior way of solving them. or more important problems to solve.&12 December 2012 at 09:09 % Like % 1& &Tihana Dauenhauer Although last comment by B.
And the Twins Paradox is one of the central puzzles that occurs in discussions of Relativity. as is his attempt to respond to the EPR paradox. If you want to just say that "practicing scientists" have a high opinion of themselves. but if you want a correct account of it you can read it in my book. Bell's paper.&12 December 2012 at 15:09 % Like& &Tim Maudlin Foundational issues are foundational issues. But in his famous lectures. First. make the argument. if you think that some (excellent) physicists do not have ability to think clearly. " That is the same attitude that Vi$nja had before and that is bound to instantly antagonise you to many working scientists.. sociological surveys or not. As you say.I am not doing sociological surveys. who have neither the interest nor ability to think clearly about foundational issues. then you shouldn't have opinions at all. I will go through what Bohr says or Feynman says and point out the errors. Feynman was a first-class scientist. and will defend them in detail if asked. I can not argue with you about the details of Bell's vs Feynman's account of anything. If you are not actually interested in these issues—which are the ones I have been discussing—I have no idea why you feel you have to take sides or issue any judgement at all. I think that I have right to notice that.&12 December 2012 at 14:56 % Like % 2& &Boris Lenhard Professor Maudlin. including the "famous physicist". As for the relative rankings of "practicing physicists" about the importance of Bell. read it again because you haven't understood it. To say that there are foundational problems in the standard formulations of quantum theory is—and I'm getting a little tired of repeating this—to point out that those presentations are not mathematically precise. and in addition his work arguably is the source of the interest in entanglement on which quantum computation and quantum cryptography rest.&12 December 2012 at 15:15 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard I am worried about this: "And yes. Do you want to defend Bohr over Bell? Any time. if you want to argue that Bohr. for example. Bell stands head-and-shoulders above the rest on foundational questions.repeatedly. many who are equally or more accomplished that you in their respective fields. Feynman gives a completely incorrect account of how that paradox is resolved. make the argument. Here is a concrete example. If you have. you would probably not be able to figure out where a philosopher of biology like Philip Kitcher in his writings gets the concept of "regulatory gene" dead wrong . Feynman might get a thing wrong here and there but. and in a way that makes the actual content of the theory hard to understand. I do think that my own estimate of which physicists were clearer thinkers and had better things to say about foundational issues is superior than opinions of most practicing physicists.I am neither a physicist nor a philosopher of physics. I have said this and I will say it again .make. Bohr's account of quantum theory is simply atrocious. Blind reverence for anyone. This is what Bell's complaint is about. If you don't like philosophers claiming that physicists make mistake.&12 December 2012 at 15:17 % Like& &Tim Maudlin Again.just like you have the right to point out one thing in which he was apparently wrong and Bell was right. so what? If I'm wrong.at least if honest dialogue with scientists is desired. Because cherrypicking those scientists who agree with you (or say they do) will not result in a sample of scientists doing the most relevant science. It is not my field. is better on foundational issues than Bell I am happy to have that argument. In short. to say that an issue is foundational is not to make some sort of subjective claim.. I will argue particular cases. I cannot give you examples from your own field because it is quite remote from my own field. because it is a fact that he made a mistake. don't give me a list of the offhand opinions of physicists who mostly have not read either one. of course. is not intelligent. then take the same attitude. including. "How to Teach Relativity" in contrast is perfect. If you want to dispute this assessment. is just worthless as a way to decide which had more profound things to say on these issues. and that it is relevant . Is pointing out that fact about what Feynman wrote—and it is a fact—"denigrating" him? I really don't care what you say.And yes. But there is not a single concrete example or fact that you cite. in a prominent place. If the actual facts antagonize working scientists. that Feynman would have acknowledged his error if pointed out—he was not dogmatic. then your notion of "thinking clearly" is simply unneccesary for doing relevant physics (or other scientists). If you yourself don't have first-hand. Some overall judgment about Bell and Feynman. No doubt you would rank him above Bell. and it improves matters to point it out and correct it. The fact that they make errors shows that clear thinking on these issues is not so trivial as you seem to think it is. I am sure. so I have no basis to judge. So it is better not to express that attitude . If you are in the same situation with respect to physics. Bell does not treat the Twins Paradox. But he did make the mistake. so what? So: do you want to defend Feynman on the Twins Paradox against a mere philosopher like me? Let's have the conversation. The rest of this is just empty rhetoric. It is to say something about the precision with which the foundational postulates of a theory have been articulated. I suspect. I have not been making any claims at all about philosophy of biology. If you haven't read his work read it. who have neither the interest nor ability to think clearly about foundational issues. In any case. Likewise. again by physicists who have probably never read Bell. defensible opinions about these things. I do think that my own estimate of which physicists were clearer thinkers and had better things to say about foundational issues is superior than opinions of most practicing physicists. . I do make strong judgments about this. To do anything else is just lazy and irresponsible. Just cite and defend what Bohr actually said. If you want to dispute these judgments by actual argument. then show that they aren't mistakes. then do so on factual grounds—read and exposit Bohr—not on some offhand "survey" of who physicists like. In a nutshell. there are very few physicists that will doubt that his overal contributions to physics (and scientific thinking) vastly exceed those of Bell. And it still sounds offensive.
Linus Pauling was a walking disaster much of the time. and then to the renewed interest in entanglement. any such thing. and Schrödinger's reading of EPR that led to the cat paper and the first explicit discussion of entanglement.If I'm right.) You might as well note. Contributions to keeping things straight ought to be valued. for once. Then just stop having opinions about which work in this area is well done and which poorly done. Looking at the case of Einstein. And it is not philosophers who typically caught their errors . fine. the more his scientific output dwindled. I must say that I am sceptical about that ambition. If you think these aren't interesting questions. In fact." I. and if doing so antagonizes anyone I can't think of a reason why I should care.&12 December 2012 at 15:23 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard The problem with foundational issues is that. Maxwell's theory was perfectly empirically adequate about these phenomena. but a long and completely conceptual discussion of the different accounts of electromagnetic induction given by Maxwell's theory for a moving magnet and a moving coil. It was worries about non-locality that arise from EPR (and specifically Bohm's theory) that led Bell to his theorem.&12 December 2012 at 15:38 % Like& &Tim Maudlin Do you really want to argue cases in the history of science? (I take it we are now leaving the issues about the foundations of contemporary physics. on average. fine again. for Einstein." Is your definition of a clear thinker "the one that does not make errors"? Do _you_ _never_ make errors? I would be very sceptical about such claims coming from _anybody_. even if they come from philosophers. Foundational issues have come out of scientific activity and might represent _conclusion_ (as in closing down) of a scientific research program. if you look at the history of science. But the issue is who is right and who is wrong.&12 December 2012 at 15:58 % Like& . it is no accident that he started with annuus mirabilis and not by demanding clarity on foundational questions . and then to quantum computation and quantum cryptography. even regarding foundational questions. in case you are unaware of it.because in the cases they disagree with practising scientists. even if they come from philosophers. My interest is getting clear about these things.&12 December 2012 at 15:33 % Like& &Boris Lenhard "The fact that they make errors shows that clear thinking on these issues is not so trivial as you seem to think it is. Since foundational issues are defined by _existing_ scientific knowledge. I wonder if you ever censor yourself out of fear of antagonizing anyone. misdirection. in any case. But again: it was Einstein's interest in foundations that led to the EPR paper. and not the beginning of something new and scientifically (not philosophically) exciting. That's not my concern. but the more philosophical his interests became. But the fact that he made such a basic mistake shows that it is hard work keeping everything straight. that in Einstein's 1905 paper there is not any mention of experimental results (and specifically no mention of Michelson and Morley). Again. never doubted this. they imply that they know better what are important problems in science than the scientists themselves. I only doubted some of the philosophers' opinions of what is important in science . any new scientific knowledge could in principle derail them (as it happened with any attempts to define the "gene"). splendidly clear. some of the most important scientists made some very serious errors in their days. nobody would pay attention to his demands for clarity. categorizing people in this regard is pointless: Feynman was. The historical claim that foundational issues are somehow sterile is demonstrably false. then they shouldn't be antagonized by that. If you personally don't care about that. no vigorous scientific advances ever started by defining foundational questions or ny trying to sort out foundational issues. conceptually inadequate. The issue is always a particular argument in hand. My present work is largely on the foundational situation in contemporary physics. Einstein made errors. then I very much need to have the mistakes pointed out. Shall we discuss Newton's foundational interest in the nature of space and time? All of this is. If your goal is to rid science (in this case physics) of errors.&12 December 2012 at 15:47 % Like % 1& &Tim Maudlin Why in the world would you attribute to me such a definition of a "clear thinker"? I never said.but other scientists who made their own errors on other occasions.without the papers from 1905. Which example would you like to discuss? By the by. And foundational issues that you have to keep modifying as new data comes in are not foundational after all. The rest is just a side show. not who made it.&12 December 2012 at 15:54 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard "Contributions to keeping things straight ought to be valued. His early work gave him a megaphone for his demands for clarity. but. If the claims I make are false. The same happened to many other scientists with philosophical interests. So the very case you cite argues against your claim. Maybe they have overestimated themselves. nor implied.
" If scientists are free to disregard foundational issues and still be (good) scientists. This is for me very. So that's reason to think that interpretational issues can be fruitful. "If you are upset that philosophers are much more attracted to foundational issues than to non-foundataional issues.&Tihana Dauenhauer I just need to say few things (I will be very short). My experience with some philosophers are that they get too hostile too soon when I start asking questions . So anyone who says they are making mistakes must somehow be wrong. If you want to have well-reasoned opinions on these matters then you have to learn about them. without understanding what the issues are. as a scientific field this is beyond stagnant . For the standards of a molecular biologist. 1." I have no trouble believing that they can inspire other sort of progress. "If you think there just are no such issues. A foundational problem. But this is a claim to made only on a specific. that problem is "stagnant" since it could have been raised in the 1930s. My own assessment is that you are much more concerned to denigrate philosophers than philosophers are interested in denigrating practicing scientists. and so are most of the interpretations of quantum mechanics.&12 December 2012 at 16:05 % Like % 2& &Boris Lenhard I do not understand the details of the EPR paper. but the paper is from 1935. If you think that work on foundational issues never leads to other sorts of progress then you are also wrong and we can go through cases. One of the problems for a quantum theory is the so-called problem of time. But I do think that they are philosophical. that's fine. If you want to discuss what the problem of time is. now. Some scientists think they are important and some don't." I don't think that. By your standard. 2. and we can talk about what they are. Lenhard is. openly asking questions about philosophy of science that are usually hidden inside minds of most Croatian scientists? 3. then don't bother about them. your goal is to get it moving again (at least above the glacial speeds of past half a century). If you want me to explain the sociology of physicists about this. then get over it. not scientific issues. as I see it. If you are upset that philosophers are much more attracted to foundational issues than to non-foundataional issues. If you don't want to—and it is hard work—then just stop having opinions. " No I am not. And this happens with some frequency in foundational topics. If you think there just are no such issues. "My own assessment is that you are much more concerned to denigrate philosophers than philosophers are interested in denigrating practicing scientists. I am only occassionaly upset when philosophers assert that I am unable to think or understand things when I have an opinion of an allegedly fundamental issue that differs from theirs (such as the concept of the gene).even if it ensued (long time ago) from interest in foundational questions. then don't bother about them. I'm sorry that for now very few are reading this conversation. There are foundational issues. then get over it.how do you know that you are succeeding at it? If the criteria are not something scientists wold recognise as scientific.&12 December 2012 at 16:17 % Like& &Boris Lenhard "There are foundational issues. very interesting discussion. Some scientists think they are important and some don't." I am sorry if I came across as such. I don't have much useful to say. either.&12 December 2012 at 16:06 % Like& &Tim Maudlin Why in the world should the "standards of a molecular biologist" be of any relevance here? I have no reason to think that the situation in the two fields have anything at all to do with each other. in physics is the reconciliation of quantum theory and the General Theory of Relativity. or whenever you think quantum theory became established. Again. " I am interested in what you think. Boris Lenhard. " If you think that work on foundational issues never leads to other sorts of progress then you are also wrong and we can go through cases. then you are wrong. I have already learned a lot from this discussion.like that they are not used to the sort of . too. "If you don't. you seem happy to just endorse whatever most scientists do. If you don't. Bell theorem is more than 50 years old. they will not recognise the progress as such. and how this approach avoids it. If I understand your goals correctly. And my initial question in this discussion is . What is annoying are scientists who take themselves to be experts on topics about which they have not thought hard or clearly. This is just lazy. It is only by first understanding the issue that you can be in a position to judge whether the physicists are making good judgements. and we can talk about what they are. And some non-standard approaches to interpreting quantum theory (in particular Bohm's) have no such problem. case-by-case basis. then you are wrong. then the foundational issues are either not scientific or net necessary for scientific progress. I am not necessarily convinced that they are necessary for it. didn't Tim Maudlin already elaborately answered your last question?&12 December 2012 at 16:01 via mobile % Like& &Tim Maudlin There is just no point in debating this. and I understand the issues raised there are still not settled. that was not my intention. But I might be wrong there.
I made no claims at all about foundational issues in biology. since there are good scientists who have never given a thought to biological issues. Are you suggesting that physics is somehow different than biology with respect to the existence or importance of foundational questions? I would be very interested to know. But I am not claiming that this should be the standard. My impression was that you claimed that every field of science has its foundational issues that underpin it (which is why they are called foundational) and that no understanding is possible without working them out. " What is annoying are scientists who take themselves to be experts on topics about which they have not thought hard or clearly. then the foundational issues are either not scientific or net necessary for scientific progress. It was you who offered an argument to the conclusion that the study of foundational issues is not scientific. and I think I am making progress. then the foundational issues are either not scientific or not necessary for scientific progress." Note the form of the statement . by example.whenever I referred to something I knew little or nothing about." I beg to differ .&12 December 2012 at 16:35 % Like& &Boris Lenhard "Your argument is that if good science can be done without X then X is not scientific" I said: "If scientists are free to disregard foundational issues and still be (good) scientists. biology must not be scientific or necessary for scientific progress.. nothing is scientific. I can see that you are annoyed.questions I ask. " Neither did I. "I made no claims at all about foundational issues in biology.&12 December 2012 at 16:31 % Like& &Tim Maudlin What I was pointing out.I am trying to understand the issues here. isn't it? Biological problems do not underpin all of science. then the biological issues are either not scientific or net necessary for scientific progress. This is an open-ended conversation . since there are good scientists who have never given a thought to biological issues. this is how it is going to look without cherrypicking &12 December 2012 at 16:42 % Like& .I was just comparing time scales. working in a field that is not your specialty. I said so." I hope that I have stated clearly what my expertise is and what isn't .&12 December 2012 at 16:20 % Like % 1& &Tim Maudlin So let's try to think clearly about one of your claims:&12 December 2012 at 16:23 % Like& &Boris Lenhard I am not suggesting that my standards should be relevant here . and I would hate to spend it with little measurable progress. by means of an argument that is obviously invalid.&12 December 2012 at 16:26 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard "Now by your argument.even I know enough logic to know that it cannot be cast in the form you have stated above. If they are optional. This is really not getting us anywhere. By that standard. or tha they are somehow beyond them. I am a scientist. Someone well trained in philosophy would not make such a mistake. is that you argument is not valid." by analogy If scentists are free to disregard biological issues and still be (good) scientists. biology must not be scientific or necessary for scientific progress.and neither could you.&12 December 2012 at 16:25 % Like % 1& &Tim Maudlin "If scentists are free to disregard foundational issues and still be (good) scientists. If you are interested in dialog with scientists on things you do. Now by your argument.." Well. It is a ridiculous standard. None. but it was not my intention to annoy you. "This is really not getting us anywhere. This is the sort of thing I mean. Your argument is that if good science can be done without X then X is not scientific. Fifty years is an entire career.I couldn't have possibly thought hard or clearly about everything we have covered here . that IS true.
And against that claim there are clear counter-examples.look them up. I cannot possibly have misrepresented your argument. the argument purports to prove that if there are good scientists who disregard biological issues (and there obviously are). Meanwhile. If you want to go argue with the string theorists to stop work. "It was rather you who seem to argue that foundational work must be somehow sterile or pointless. be my guest.. As for the practice of biology. Other than that I am glad that things are happening. " <nitpicking>Nature Physics is not Nature </nitpicking>. It is not an area of my expertise. " That is exactly what I meant . in clarity and precision of physical postulates.I named my two friends because I know that they have interest in this subject." No. in the Perimeter Institute there are two research groups working on foundation of QM and quantum gravity. just like I think nobody should disparage the scientific value of the latter. not a means to some other end.well it is obvious that exactly zero progress will be made if no one works on it.just a couple of points: "Since the beginning of quantum mechanics. the predictive power of quantum theory has been exploited much more productively elsewhere.well of course. The aim for precision and clarity in the postulates of a theory is an end in itself.. 476 (2012)). But the fact that they have been inconclusive is what made me ask in the first place ." Any testable hypotheses yet? "But last month Pusey..&12 December 2012 at 17:09 % Like % 1& . why even assert that? No one has ever denied it.are you trying to conclude them? Or persuade practicing physicists to work on trying to conclude them?&12 December 2012 at 17:00 % Like& &Boris Lenhard Mate.. If you mean only that it is *possible* to do good scientific work without regard to foundations. but I (as a complete non-expert) see them as inconclusive attempts to tie the loose ends of (basically philosophical) implications of quantum theory. Barrett and Rudolph published paper about that problem in the Nature (Nature Phys. I am more of a progress junkie than people in this field are. I am not trying to disparage the former effort. One any usual reading that conclusion is false. "For example. Why does it annoy you so much that people do? On a more concrete note. Bell was interested in physics as physics. As for the claim that the interpretational issues are philosophical. I would rather look in detail about the problems they have and the progress they have made before making a judgement. one could argue that the last three decades of work on string theory has not yet led to any clear empirical success. It was rather you who seem to argue that foundational work must be somehow sterile or pointless.&12 December 2012 at 16:51 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard "If you mean only that it is *possible* to do good scientific work without regard to foundations. 35 years later.well of course.in fact I do not see how my original statement could be interpreted otherwise. No one ever denied that. Please correct me if I am wrong.&12 December 2012 at 16:47 via mobile % Like % 1& &Tim Maudlin So let's at least get clear on this point. then biological issues either are not scientific or not necessary for scientific progress. ALL OF THEM were solved. as a molecular biologist. That change cannot change the argument form. we have continuous discussion " Discussions do not necessarily mean progress. I remember that Feynman in his lectures (1962) in one of the first lectures in book one stated several big questions of (molecular) biology . either. Oudeis Oudenos . again I make no claims at all.&12 December 2012 at 17:07 % Like& &Tim Maudlin If all you mean is that good scientific work can proceed without worrying about foundations. And in the new form. let alone vigorous progress. 8. Once again.. but the examples you have given are not shining examples of a start of a new and vibrant scientific field. because all I initially did was cut-and-paste your sentence.&Tihana Dauenhauer Franjo Sokolic. As for how much progress is being made.. then replace the word "foundational" with the word "biological". They are physical. that is not true. Maybe. thanks .
be my guest.. What worries me is the possibility that exactly zero measurable progress will be made even if people do work on it. either. Getting people to understand it would be progress even if it leads to no new predictions.&12 December 2012 at 17:12 % Like& &Tim Maudlin Now we are just having a semantic debate about the word "science"." Well. not just for those specifically interested in those issues. On the other hand.)&12 . I don't care much about how you use the word "science". "The aim for precision and clarity in the postulates of a theory is an end in itself. that is no great tragedy.. I mean something simple. Why should progress require satisfying people with no interest in the issues? That is just plain bizarre.&Boris Lenhard "On a more concrete note." I cannot judge the progress they made.. " That is where I might have be confused. Maybe it's easier to get tenure doing deconstruction. so progress on them is progress full stop. Good luck with that. Much more. not a means to some other end.And to be clear—by "understand" here. I understand that "exactly zero progress will be made if no one works on it". If you want to go argue with the string theorists to stop work. Foundational issues—issues of clarity and precision—have intrinsic value. If you try to do something valuable and fail. obviously. according to that very theory.. pointing out Feynman's error is. Why does it annoy you so much that people do?" It does not annoy me. "I would rather look in detail about the problems they have and the progress they have made before making a judgement. In the absence of testable hypothesis or any predictive power beyond what already exists.. God help us. Your fundamental principle seems to be: if I don't care about it. any progress is purely mathematical I guess. I was convinced that you choose work on the issues of clarity and precision because you are convinced that lack of them hinders progress . in a small way. that is no great tragedy. progress: more people will understand Relativity. But I might be wrong there." Tell it to a tenure review committee. One can use a theory and not understand it. too. you will be working on these problems as a hobby only. then it is worthless. It should worry those people even more. and it may simply fizzle out as people lose interest in something that is supposed to become science but never does. As far as I understand it is not science YET. Actually. it may be proven wrong..&12 December 2012 at 17:29 % Like& &Boris Lenhard It was meant as a joke.for everybody. As for how much progress is being made. To recur to my example.&12 December 2012 at 17:22 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard "You won't know what can be done until you try. there are a number of physicists who see many problems with the lack of empirical success of string theory. although they can calculate with the theory they do not understand it. Why bring it up?&12 December 2012 at 17:25 % Like& &Tim Maudlin I work on issues of clarity and precision because they are intrinsically important. But there is no consensus about it in the community. (And unfortunately tenure IS important . most physicists cannot explain the Twins Paradox because. one could argue that the last three decades of work on string theory has not yet led to any clear empirical success." Why? You won't know what can be done until you try. It may be one day..&12 December 2012 at 17:17 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard "Foundational issues—issues of clarity and precision—have intrinsic value. And progress can be made. it may never become one (if it never produces any practically testable hypothesis). Much more.or have we?&12 December 2012 at 17:21 % Like& &Tim Maudlin "It should worry those people even more.. Deciding to do something rather unimportant because you know you will succeed might be said to be worse. You do not understand Relativity if you cannot give the correct account. Now we have concluded that it is not necessarily the case .&12 December 2012 at 17:23 % Like& &Tim Maudlin If tenure review committees are to be the standard of value. If you try to do something valuable and fail. of the effect. The string theory community has gotten enough funding from the National Science Foundation to conclude that most people think it is science. Maybe I should have ended it with a smiley.if you are over 40 and don't have it.well it is obvious that exactly zero progress will be made if no one works on it.
" My response was not dismissive at all. this seems like a pedagogical aim. " Again. in contrast. and your response was.&12 December 2012 at 17:44 % Like % 1& &Tihana Dauenhauer Thank you Tim M. I. then it is worthless. Am I wrong? "I think both of these sorts of issues are intrinsically important. I feel no obligation to show that trying to solve them might have some other consequences." You are being unfair. If you don't.it is just that Mate's statement . Nature Physics is an excellent journal .December 2012 at 17:29 % Like& &Boris Lenhard "Your fundamental principle seems to be: if I don't care about it. but this basic problem means that you can't really understand anything in terms of the theory. fine. which makes itself manifest in the Measurement Problem. One can use the theory without resolving that problem (obviously). in contrast. an intrinsically clear theory. or that thinking about them did lead to other sorts of progress. I guess I find that rather shallow. or try to understand the issues. in contrast. If you don't. you explained this very nicely and in a simple way: "So we have two concrete examples. I can point out that some great scientists thought they were important. Maybe you should read the paper. dismissive because of the venue of publication. or that the precisely articulated principles of a theory be properly understood. Then there is no further discussion. Not even in a casual conversation. Maybe I was wrong. you don't and I can't quite see why I should try to convince you. I thought it was the same for philosophers. I think both of these sorts of issues are intrinsically important.especially educated people who can be argued with . The answer that I would not be happy about is "If you don't see it."&12 December 2012 at 17:51 via mobile % Like& &Boris Lenhard ") There is. As for progress.no. and pointing out the errors in popular presentations. I think it is fair to say. well just dont do it". sir. Mate mentioned the PBR theorem. at present. an intrinsically clear theory." Two questions: 1) Are you actually working on resolving the flaw in the theory? 2) By what criterion will you know that you or somebody else have resolved it? "2) Relativity is. If you are willing to say that you neither care that the foundational principles of a theory be precisely articulated. Conceptual progress can be made by explaining the theory clearly. Mate mentioned the PBR theorem. which makes itself manifest in the Measurement Problem. I want to find out what you see. and your response was. at present. Maybe you should read the paper. somebody else) care about it?" And it is not put in the way that you should get defensive about it . but those are side issues.. at present. and pointing out the errors in popular presentations. I think it is fair to say. because of a flaw in the theory itself. "As for progress. Starting from the simple "if you claim that your aim is to understand something. Conceptual progress can be made by explaining the theory clearly. or try to understand the issues. 1) There is." Put this way. but this basic problem means that you can't really understand anything in terms of the theory. which makes itself manifest in the Measurement Problem. but still widely misunderstood. an intrinsically clear theory. but still widely misunderstood. so long as some other sort of "progress" can go on unimpeded. a lack of fundamental precision in the foundations of quantum theory. 1) There is. because of a flaw in the theory itself. it is open-ended. And trust me. how do you know when you have accomplished that?"&12 December 2012 at 17:34 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard Just a note: if I was as defensive about my research as you seem to be here.is simply part of being a scientist. a lack of fundamental precision in the foundations of quantum theory. 2) Relativity is. because of a flaw in the theory itself. as a practising scientist. but still widely misunderstood. That is why I am asking all this. I take them to be intrinsically important. and pointing out the errors in popular presentations. I would never get any funding for it. I guess I find that rather shallow. Conceptual progress can be made by explaining the theory clearly. Since I take these sorts of thing to be intrinsically important. I can NEVER afford to assume this attitude about my research. One can use the theory without resolving that problem (obviously). you don't and I can't quite see why I should try to convince you. I get asked much dumber and more contemptuous questions by people who are deciding on it &12 December 2012 at 17:43 % Like& &Tim Maudlin So we have two concrete examples. but this basic problem means that you can't really understand anything in terms of the theory. My principle in this discussion is the question "why should anybody (you. dismissive because of the venue of publication. Defending it before doubting people . a lack of fundamental precision in the foundations of quantum theory. 2) Relativity is. One can use the theory without resolving that problem (obviously).
. but for us it _is_ part of the job. just b***r off" is not really a response I can take seriously. if I did it your style. You seem to believe that having the last word on a comment thread is somehow winning.that the paper was published in Nature is. I want to know why (you think) something is intrinsically valuable. If you want to reject it. demonstrably false. and my own contribution to it (why would that be relevant to the general question?). a "degenerating research programme". Anyone else can make their own decision. I think I have shown that I will spend time to try to explain things. you win.. Let anyone else following the thread make their own judgment. I have explained. Isn't that a legitimate point? The reason i am asking is that I am not sure if you expect that the solution should come from a physicist or a philosopher of physics. It was never my intention to play any tricks in this discussion. as you say. I am pretty clear what "pedagogical" means ." DO you stay up mights working on silly rhetorical traps like that? Answer the questions and you are defensive.. But to state that something is "intrinsically valuable" without defending it amounts to a revelatory statement about objective reality.especially educated people who can be argued with . I understand that philosophers do not worry about such distinctions. to defend one's research is not the same as being defensive about it.. don't answer it and you aren't doing what you are supposed to! Nifty!&12 December 2012 at 18:20 % Like % 1& &Boris Lenhard I am trying to add some casual notes to a casual discussion. not an academic argument. I have made what seems to me a perfectly clear claim: that the sort of precision and clarity I am trying to achieve is intrinsically valuable. That makes me sad because the discussion could have been even better without it.)&12 December 2012 at 18:27 % Like& &Tim Maudlin It is easy to say that you have some sincere interest in understanding things..&12 December 2012 at 18:24 % Like& &Boris Lenhard (It is my hope that I have managed not to be obnoxious in this discussion.&12 December 2012 at 18:36 % Like % 2& &Boris Lenhard "that the sort of precision and clarity I am trying to achieve is intrinsically valuable. then reject it.is simply part of being a scientist. This is. First you ask why foundational issues are important. But I accept responsibility for it.but the aim the way you have phrased it could as well be a general aim of any physics teacher or textbook author. Now are we really supposed to get into a discussion of the status of the measurement problem. I asked if that was it or is there something more to it. But you simply give no indication of caring to have them explained. Please tell me what it is." I do not want to reject it.&12 December 2012 at 18:22 % Like& &Boris Lenhard And to me. "But you simply give no indication of caring to have them explained.)&12 December 2012 at 18:00 % Like& &Tim Maudlin This has just become hilarious. "Are we supposed to argue over the use of the word "pedagogical"?" No. I sincerely regret being obnoxious to other people whom I debated about related topics before. I would ask "why I should care that you don't care about the difference between journals?". Again. I would never get any funding for it. and to a scientist it is _not_ the same. but you obviously find something in my response grating. You claim not to understand why anyone should pursue foundational questions. The response "if you do not see it/accept it. " It was a joke to begin with. then reject it.) "Now are we really supposed to get into a discussion of the status of the measurement problem. What is the point of that? Are we supposed to argue over the use of the word "pedagogical"? Why? I have just pointed out a silly rhetorical trick you tried to play (which I refrained from pointing out until you started up again) and now its just a joke. and I still feel the consequences of this in Tim's attitude in this discussion. What is the point of that?" The point is to find out if you are working towards solving a problem that you claim you want to see solved. Being defensive includes a hostile response. and my own contribution to it (why would that be relevant to the general question?). I thought it was the same for philosophers.. Merely defending something does not. I published in Nature and Nature Genetics. "I have just pointed out a silly rhetorical trick you tried to play (which I refrained from pointing out until you started up again) and now its just a joke." How does one give indication of caring to have them explained? (I thought I gave ample indication for it." Then when I say I have no need to try to defend the claim that precision is intrinsically important you say "Defending it before doubting people . (And trust me. Sorry if my sense of humour falls flat with you. in Lakatos's phrase.. If you want to reject it. Maybe I was wrong. It is harder to actually do it. By that standard. and when I answer you say " if I was as defensive about my research as you seem to be here.
Professor Maudlin suggests a program that would proliferate many alternative formulations. biology) and that they are important. I am grateful that you have responded. I just wanted you to clarify a statement whose meaning was not obvious to me. This is what is normally meant by Occam's razor. or at least acts like. From what I know. as remote from applications as science can be).because he already prefers formulations that do not have the lowest number of parameters. In it. 3. and I was perfectly willing to discuss it with them. it is important to try" would guarantee that you will not get funded. However I asked professor Maudlin about the details of his work because working on an important issue by no means guarantees that what one does about it is important. even in most basic science. (But please note that people with whom I had a heated discussion of the gene concepts had very little knowledge of molecular biology or genetics. By scientific understanding I mean 1.which. such as e. He claims that there are more sophisticated. Let anyone else following the thread make their own judgment. I am completely in the dark about what these criteria should be and how they are supposed to inform our decision-making . I do not want to win here. Professor Maudlin claims that those principles cannot be stated generally but only concretely for specific cases. I do not see how something in science can be intrinsically important without being extrinsically important at the same time (i.decide which is the most acceptable. 2. one knows the basic statements the model makes (mathematical as an equations or a series equations. having practical consequences as well). even though they knew next to nothing about it) I really wanted to find out what it means to "understand an issue" in the sense that goes beyond what I consider scientific understanding. There are foundational issues in physics. By that standard. or physical. I think that the previous example about the 6000-years or 5/10 minutes universe nicely demonstrates that point.e. meaningful or that it will lead to anything important. details of a molecular structure of DNA) 4.g." You seem to believe that having the last word on a comment thread is somehow winning. or attract any good PhD students or postdocs. if professor Maudlin also considers those who disagree with him wrong and why. Professor Maudlin claims that he works on those issues because they are intrinsically important. Even if it ended on a hostile note. here is what I have learned: 1. but still had very strong opinions about it. for that matter). in the case of models with identical predictive power almost always means that one contains parameters that are not needed. but in any branch of science. not caring to understand and/or not being able to understand an issue from my own scientific field. he is apparently willing to forego the basic Occam's razor principle . I had an uneasy feeling that any further "understanding" beyond the above points is basically a subjective preference for one formulation of a model over another. and if there is. As a scientist.g. * To choose among different formulations of quantum theory which do not differ by measurable or otherwise testable predictions they make.) Let me rephrase the main things from Professor Maudlin's response that I think are relevant. ### Foundational issues and intrinsic importance On the question of foundational issues. or an insistence that one should have a clear idea/definition of a notion that was arbitrary or never corresponded to any physical object to begin with (such as "gene").&12 December 2012 at 18:50 % Like& &Boris Lenhard Since the discussion is over. . I do not understand why this level of hostility is necessary. let me just summarise what I got from it: Based on professor Maudlin's statement of goals in the interview. one is able to assess the predictive ability of the model and further testable (or testable in principle) predictions/implications. but I am aware that this does not contradict his claim. the issue he considers foundational in physics are THE foundational issues in physics. one is aware of the assumptions of the model 3. and a couple of previous discussions with philosophers on what it means to "understand an issue" (especially since some of them accused me of not understanding. I could not hope to understand the details of concrete issues he deals with in his professional work. and then by some criteria that I cannot grasp . so I do not understand what it means to be "imprecise" in this context. you win. and "feasibility" (anything along the lines "so what if it fails. but in grant proposals in science we have to justify things such as "impact" ("intrinsically important" would not be a convincing argument.but which obviously do not include measurement . It is unclear to me if there is disagreement of what the foundational issues are. Based on previous discussions. Since Professor Maudlin is a philosopher of physics. quantum theory makes impressively accurate measurable predictions. That is all. and whose important details I do not understand: * Professor Maudlin states that current formulations of quantum theory are inexact and mathematically imprecise. "exact" criteria to justify such choices that include neither measurement nor Occam's razor." Again. Perhaps I am too much into the mindset of science grant proposals. Professor Maudlin implies that. the only criterion that always works in scientific reasoning is to choose one with fewer parameters .not only in quantum theory. there is a reasonably well-performing predictive model of a phenomenon 2. I have no reason not to accept that there are foundational issues (although I would have trouble defining them meaningfully in e. such as Bohm's. To distinguish between two models whose testable predictions are exactly the same. Professor Maudlin would consider those who doubt this simply and flatly wrong.
when this understanding is not based on "simple-minded" principles of practicing science that I have outlined above. too. ### Conclusion ### The concept of "understanding" as used by philosophers in discussions with me. failing to see it. if resolving of these issues is even his goal. It is not a matter of specialisation .### Field consensus ### Professor Maudlin is also oddly dismissive about the majority opinion in physics. subjective and occasionally circular. managed to explain to me how they distinguish the state of not understanding something from the state of understanding it. not even professor Maudlin. is inherently vague (should I say "unprofessionally vague"). Many of the great scientists were actually familiar with Bell's work (Feynman was. For that reason. calling it a sociological question. I am still in the dark about the basic questions concerning the feasibility of his project . apparently) and yet did not found it of equal importance. what are the criteria for deciding that this goal has been achieved. but dismissing majority attitude or priorities as "worthless" with respect to ranking the importance of John Bell because the majority hasn't read his work strikes me as problematic and lacking objectivity on ones own position in the field. and if is. I try very much not to draw parallels with climate science community because the criteria in this case are basically not scientific in my ("narrow") view of what scientific is. Not to mention that they probably read many other things that Professor Maudlin never did. Nobody. so it would be appropriate to at least consider the possibility that some of his opinions and rankings could be seen as "worthless" in their eyes.about what is there in his approach that will resolve long-standing issues that many great mind couldn't resolve for many decades. prove to be an irredeemable nincompoop that just cannot grasp the foundational issues in his own field.it is a mere question of objective worth of something vs mere personal preferences. It is at best a fuzzy feeling of intellectual achievement after having explored some issues and ranking some alternatives by criteria that cannot be ever universally agreed upon. It is as if Professor Maudlin is implying that everybody who has read what he read will either see the light or. or at least that he has come closer to it.&13 December 2012 at 10:09 % Like& &! .
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