Relationalism about space; Humeanism; Ontic structural realism; Metaphysics of science; Philosophy of physics; Atomism
Esfeld Michael (2020), A proposal for a minimalist ontology, in Synthese
, 197(5), 1889-1905.
Oldofredi Andrea (2020), Stochasticity and Bell-type quantum field theory, in Synthese
, 197(2), 731-750.
Esfeld Michael (2019), Super-Humeanism and free will, in Synthese
Benitez Federico (2019), Selective Realism and the Framework/Interaction Distinction: A Taxonomy of Fundamental Physical Theories, in Foundations of Physics
, 49(7), 700-716.
Andreoletti Mattia, Oldofredi Andrea (2019), We are All Bayesian, Everyone is Not a Bayesian, in Topoi
, 38(2), 477-485.
Esfeld Michael (2019), Against the disappearance of spacetime in quantum gravity, in Synthese
Oldofredi Andrea, Esfeld Michael (2019), Observability, Unobservability and the Copenhagen Interpretation in Dirac's Methodology of Physics, in Quanta
, 8(1), 68-87.
Oldofredi Andrea (2019), Some remarks on the mentalistic reformulation of the measurement problem: a reply to S. Gao, in Synthese
Esfeld Michael (2019), Why Determinism in Physics Has No Implications for Free Will, in Organon F
, 26(1), 62-85.
Oldofredi Andrea (2018), Particle Creation and Annihilation: Two Bohmian Approaches, in Lato Sensu: Revue de la Société de philosophie des sciences
, 5(1), 77-85.
Oldofredi Andrea (2018), No-Go Theorems and the Foundations of Quantum Physics, in Journal for General Philosophy of Science
, 49(3), 355-370.
OldofrediAndrea, EsfeldMichael (2018), On the possibility of a realist ontological commitment in quantum mechanics, in Tropos
, 11(1), 11-33.
Lazarovici Dustin, Oldofredi Andrea, Esfeld Michael (2018), Observables and Unobservables in Quantum Mechanics: How the No-Hidden-Variables Theorems Support the Bohmian Particle Ontology, in Entropy
, 20(5), 381-381.
This research project seeks to answer the following question: What is a most parsimonious ontology of the natural world that is able to cover modern physics in a scientific realist spirit? This project explores a proposal that is defined by the following two axioms: (1) There are distance relations that individuate simple objects, namely matter points. (2) The matter points are permanent, with the distances between them changing.The project belongs to foundational work in philosophy. It is concerned with the basic ontology of the natural world, using the traditional philosophical criterion of parsimony - together with the criteria of coherence and empirical adequacy - as the measure for ontology. Nonetheless, it falls within naturalized by contrast to a priori metaphysics, since it envisages working out the minimal ontological commitments required to understand modern physics in a scientific realist spirit. The guiding idea is that there is one type of a fundamental relation that unifies the world and that individuates simple objects (i.e. objects that have no parts or other intrinsic features). One thereby obtains variation within a configuration of objects. To achieve empirical adequacy, it is furthermore necessary to stipulate that the fundamental relations change. The first and foremost candidate for these relations are the spatial or spatio-temporal ones so that we get a relationalist theory of space and time. If these relations individuate basic objects, these objects are pointlike and featureless so that we get an atomist theory of matter. Everything else - including geometry and dynamical parameters up to fields and the wave function in quantum physics - then comes in through its role in describing the change in the fundamental relations instead of being an additional ingredient of the basic ontology. Based on the previous research of the applicant, the present project consists in pursuing this idea in three subprojects for which one postdoc and two PhD students will be employed.The first subproject is dedicated to elaborating on this ontology by bringing together ontic structural realism (structural individuation of objects) with relationalism about space and time, elaborating on the notion of a distance relation that fulfils only a minimal spatiality requirement and that is nonetheless able to individuate simple, discrete objects. The second subproject then considers how this ontology matches physics. It starts from the Leibniz-Newton debate and argues that a philosophical interpretation of Newtonian mechanics in relationalist terms - rather than constructing an alternative, relationalist theory - is sufficient to vindicate a parsimonious ontology of classical mechanics. The main issues then are whether this strategy can also be applied to relativistic physics, notably the general theory of relativity, whether the fundamental relations have to be shifted from spatial to spatio-temporal ones and how to deal with the tension between relativistic physics and quantum non-locality in this context. The third subproject has the aim to relate the parsimonious ontology developed here to the metaphysics of laws and explanation, examining whether this ontology is a sufficient basis for laws and explanations. This investigation takes up the framework of Humeanism (Ramsey-Lewis best system account of laws) and aims at developing a minimalist version of Humean supervenience, dubbed “Super-Humeanism”, with the mentioned ontology being the supervenience basis. It also aims at shedding new light on the debates about scientific realism and physicalism as well as to point out the limits of a parsimonious ontology e.g. when it comes to issues like determinism and free will.