Re: An idea to resolve the 1st Person/3rd person division mystery - Coarse graining is the answer!?

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Mon, 7 May 2007 14:06:36 +1000

On 07/05/07, <> wrote:

>Still, I don't think this has any bearing on reductionism. The scientific
> method is
> > about how we are to go about discovering scientific truths, just as the
> > adversarial method in a court of law is about how to decide guilt or
> > innocence "beyond reasonable doubt". But the world is as it is
> regardless of
> > our methods of investigation.
> >
> But it *does* have a bearing of reductionism because the very term
> *laws of physics* IS itself an ontology category! The point is that
> the physicals science use the concept *laws of physics* as an
> ontological category, and this category requires explanation.
> We can quite legitimately ask: what does the concept *laws of physics*
> refer to? (Just as we asked , in the example you gave: what does the
> concept *pair of peas* refer to). In your example, we found that the
> concept *pair of peas* could be broken down (reduced) to a lower level
> description (ie. the system was indeed merely the sum of the parts).
> But in the case of the concept *laws opf physics* we find that we
> *cannot* break down (reduce) this concept to any finite set of
> physical objects or processes. It is also the case that the concept
> *laws of physics* is *indispensible* to the scientific method, so it
> cannot be argued away as some kind of semantic trick.
> We have here a clear example of an indispensible *physical* concept
> which *cannot* be broken down or reduced to any finite lower level
> descriptions. This proves that reductive materialism is false.

I'm not sure that it is necessary to consider the laws of physics a separate
ontological category. A zoologist might study the behaviour of chimpanzees,
take notes, and summarise these notes in a paper for others to read and test
by seeing if chimpanzees do indeed behave as claimed. The "rules of
chimpanzee behaviour" is not separate to how chimpanzees actually behave nor
does it have any causal effects of its own. Similarly, a physicist might
study the behaviour of electrons and write a paper for others to read and
test by seeing if electrons do behave in the way claimed, but these "laws of
physics" regarding electrons are not separate to electron behaviour and have
no causal role in electron behaviour. Electrons and chimpanzees behave in
the way they are inclined to behave, and if we can discern patterns by
observing them, that's just our good fortune.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Mon May 07 2007 - 00:06:48 PDT

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