Physics, metaphysics and mathematics
The relation between physics and metaphysics is a traditional subject for debate in the philosophy of science. Since the days of Mach and other empiricists, who objected against any intrusion of metaphysics into physics, the philosophical climate has certainly become less anti-metaphysical. But it seems still uncontroversial that metaphysical doctrines that do not make fruitful contact with science and introduce concepts that are superfluous from a scientific point of view cannot be considered to be supported by what we know from science. Conversely, such doctrines lack the force to reform science.In his paper "Causal Probabilities in the GRW Quantum Mechanics' Tomasz Placek constructs a mathematical framework that permits a reading of the GRW theory (a variation on quantum mechanics) in terms of graded possibilities, "causal powers". Here we shall comment on the wider philosophical research program that motivates this work. We shall argue – in line with the above general remarks – that it is dubious methodology to look to the GRW theory in order to find quantum mechanical support for the metaphysics of causal powers. Moreover, we shall argue that the technical strategy of Placek's paper, namely the construction of a formal probabilistic framework, is metaphysically neutral and therefore unable to favor a powers ontology.
Dieks, D. (2014)., Physics, metaphysics and mathematics, in D. Dieks, S. Hartmann, T. Uebel, M. Weber & M. C. Galavotti (eds.), New directions in the philosophy of science, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 577-586.
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