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::: center home >> events >> lunchtime >> 2013-14 >> abstracts>> February

February 2014 Lunchtime Abstracts & Details

::: The Literal Ascription of Psychological Predicates to Non-Persons: Why Neurons Really Prefer and Antibodies Really Recognize
Carrie Figdor
CPS Visiting Fellow
University of Iowa
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
12:05 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract. I argue that when psychological predicates are ascribed in scientific theories to something that is not a person, these are literal uses of the terms in a wider proper domain than customarily thought. For example, when a neuroscientist says that a neuron prefers certain stimuli, or a biologist says that an antibody recognizes certain antigens, the neuron really prefers and the antibody really recognizes. Recent work on concepts, meaning, and metaphor in cognitive psychology, cognitive linguistics, and philosophy of language explains how these predicates can be referring theoretical terms in new theories, and not mere metaphors, mere placeholders or mere nonsense.

::: Biological Objects and Measurement
Maël Montévil
Postdoctoral Fellow, IHPST, CNRS, Paris
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
12:05 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

The core of the objectivization in physics is the coupling of generic objects, as defined by their symmetries, and their corresponding specific trajectories. As for biological phenomena, we posit that they do not possess stable theoretical symmetries. Thus, biological objects are specific in the sense that they are the result of historical and contingent changes of symmetries. This situation will allow us to discuss a specific notion of measurement for biological objects: measurements in biology co-establishes and often stabilize the theoretical symmetries of biological objects.

::: The Quantum Mechanics of a Baseball: Interpretation Neutrality in Realist Accounts of Macroscopic Classical Behavior
Joshua Rosaler
CPS Postdoctoral Fellow
Pembroke College, Oxford
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
12:05 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: Prima facie, it would seem that the task of retrieving Newtonian behavior from quantum mechanics in the macroscopic realm depends strongly on the particular interpretation of quantum mechanics that one adopts – in particular, because the question of how one extracts the determinacy of Newtonian descriptions from the indeterminacy of quantum descriptions depends entirely on the attitude that one takes toward the measurement problem and its resolution. Contrary to appearances, I argue that within the broad context of realist approaches to the measurement problem, the manner of retrieving Newtonian behavior is to a very large extent independent of the particular interpretation that one takes as the basis for the analysis. Thus, it is possible to achieve a clear picture of how quantum theory describes macroscopic Newtonian systems without having to commit at the start of the analysis to a particular interpretation (as indeed many are hesitant to do).

I defend this point by first sketching, both in a qualitative and then in a more technical manner, an account of macroscopic Newtonian behavior on the "bare formalism" of quantum mechanics (that is, quantum mechanics without collapse) because this formalism represents the mathematical structure that is shared by most realist interpretations of quantum theory, including the Everett, de-Broglie-Bohm and GRW interpretations. This analysis emphasizes the importance of decoherence to realistic quantum accounts of Newtonian behavior and underscores a crucial step that is often not made explicit in most existing decoherence-based analyses of the classical domain: namely, a generalization of Ehrenfest’s Theorem to open, decohering quantum systems. I then go on to argue that there is a strong sense in which the job of accounting for Newtonian behavior on any of the three leading realist interpretations of quantum theory - the Everett, Bohm and GRW interpretations - is nearly all but complete once one has given an account on the bare formalism. Incorporating the individual mechanisms whereby these different interpretations provide for effective wave function collapse becomes a relatively straightforward matter than can be addressed at the very end of the analysis rather than needing to be taken account of from the outset, thus serving to highlight those extensive portions of the analysis that are interpretation-neutral.

::: Quantum Time and Structural Realism
William M. Kallfelz
Department of Philosophy & Religion
Mississippi State University
Friday, February 28, 2014
12:05 pm
817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: Finkelstein (1996, 2001, 2010), Hestenes (1984, 1986, 2003), Lasenby, et. al. (2000) have given principled and practical arguments for applying Clifford (or geometric) algebras in the case of algebraicizing any theory in mathematical physics. Such structures facilitate the aim of conceptual analysis of space-time physics to clarify that “space-time physics is its theory of measurement... a program to interpret certain characteristic phenomena as measurements of fundamental dynamical quantities” (DiSalle, 2006, 161-162). I argue that DiSalle’s point is vindicated, when examining the role of chronon-dynamics (fundamental units of quantum time) and statistics which utilize the formal structures of Clifford Algebra.
Ladyman, et. al. (1998, 2007, 2009) argue that ontic structural realism, (OSR) is a position that “most physicists advocate” (Ladyman, 2009, 11), as its central claim is that the physical world is ultimately individuated by some species of structure. The rendition of OSR best suited to characterize Clifford-algebraic chronon dynamics reduces facts about the identity and diversity of objects as ontologically dependent on the relational structures qua information. I argue that chronons are fundamentally projectable patterns in their most elementary form, which scale up en masse to emerge in the form of the space-time manifold structure. One hence witnesses an instance of fundamental dynamical units “providing its own theory of measurement” (DiSalle) as articulated by OSR’s information-theoretic basis.

Revised 2/6/14 - Copyright 2009