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We consider the nature of quantum randomness and how one might have empirical evidence for it. We will see why, depending on one’s computational resources, it may be impossible to determine whether a particular notion of randomness properly characterizes one’s empirical data. Indeed, we will see why even an ideal observer under ideal epistemic conditions may never have any empirical evidence whatsoever for believing that the results of one’s quantum-mechanical experiments are randomly determined. This illustrates a radical sort of empirical underdetermination faced by fundamentally stochastic theories like quantum mechanics.
The article addresses the debate about the empirical status of particles versus wave functions in Bohmian quantum mechanics. It thereby clarifies questions and misconceptions about the role of the particles in the measurement process, the (un)reliability of position measurements (surrealistic trajectories), and the limited empirical access to particle positions (absolute uncertainty). Taking the ontological commitment of Bohmian mechanics seriously, all relevant empirical results follow from an analysis of the theory in terms of particle motions. Finally, we address the question of why particle motions rather than patterns in the wave function would be the supervenience base of conscious experience.
In 2012, the Geological Time Scale, which sets the temporal framework for studying the timing and tempo of all major geological, biological, and climatic events in Earth’s history, had one-quarter of its boundaries moved in a widespread revision of radiometric dates. The philosophy of metrology helps us understand this episode, and it, in turn, elucidates the notions of calibration, coherence, and consilience. I argue that coherence testing is a distinct activity preceding calibration and consilience, and I highlight the value of discordant evidence and trade-offs scientists face in calibration. The iterative nature of calibration, moreover, raises the problem of legacy data.
According to an adequacy-for-purpose view, models should be assessed with respect to their adequacy or fitness for particular purposes. Such a view has been advocated by scientists and philosophers alike. Important details, however, have yet to be spelled out. This article attempts to make progress by addressing three key questions: What does it mean for a model to be adequate-for-purpose? What makes a model adequate-for-purpose? How does assessing a model’s adequacy-for-purpose differ from assessing its representational accuracy? In addition, responses are given to some objections that might be raised against an adequacy-for-purpose view.
Wright’s “adaptive landscape” has been influential in evolutionary thinking but controversial, especially because the landscape that organisms encounter is altered by the evolutionary process itself and the effects organisms have on their environments. Lewontin offered a mathematical heuristic describing the coupling of niche construction and adaptive evolution. Here, we propose a “dual landscape” model to view these relationships. Our model represents change as simultaneous movement on two landscapes, each a function of phenotype and environment. This model clarifies the evolutionary feedback generated by niche construction. We relate our model to Lewontin’s niche construction equations and illustrate it with three examples.
History is littered with scientifically ill-founded claims about human nature. They frequently appear in normative contexts, projecting ideology or values onto nature (what we call the naturalizing error). In considering a remedy, we adopt a naturalized epistemology approach to how we think about human nature. The “nature” in “human nature” fosters unproductive essentialist thinking, epitomized in the adage “a tiger cannot change its stripes.” Universalist, fixist, and teleological perspectives each erode epistemic reasoning and blur the distinction between normative and descriptive justification. We articulate strategies to guide more responsible claims about human nature in science and science communication.
Substantive counterlegal discourse poses a problem for those according to whom the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. I discern two types of necessitarianism about laws: dispositional essentialism and modal necessitarianism. I argue that Toby Handfield’s response to the problem of counterlegals cannot help the modal necessitarian, according to whom all possible worlds are identical with respect to the laws. I thus propose a fictionalist treatment of counterlegals. Fictions are not limited by metaphysical possibility; hence, fictionalism affords the modal necessitarian the means to account for the apparent substance of counterlegals even granting the metaphysical necessity of the laws.