Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized Hardcover – 1 Sep 2007
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This material is dense, challenging and creative...a provovative book...the authors are to be commended for taking on the challenge to develop a systematic, scientifically informed metaphysics for the twenty-first century. (Paul W. Humphreys Metascience)
This challenging and provocative book contends that contemporary fundamental physics carries radically counterintuitive consequences for metaphysics (Jarrett Leplin, Philosophical Papers)
an enticing work (Jeremy Butterfield, Times Literary Supplement)
About the Author
Ladyman is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Bristol, UK.
Don Ross is Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Economics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is the author of "Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation" (MIT Press, 2005), companion volume to "Midbrain Mutiny."
John Collier (1901-1980) was born in Britain, but spent much of his life in the U.S., where he wrote screenplays for Hollywood (The African Queen, Sylvia Scarlet, and I Am a Camera among them) and short stories for The New Yorker and other magazines. He was also a poet, editor, and reviewer.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Given the broad scope of the book, many issues are not treated in the detail they deserve, but rest assured, there are plenty of references to follow if something piques your interest. Whether or not the authors succeed in overthrowing the reigning atomistic metaphysical picture in favor of their particular structuralist view, this work constitutes an important contribution to naturalistic metaphysics simply by calling the former into question at all. Perhaps the most important role for philosophy of any sort is questioning the fundamental assumptions that underlie our thinking. This book exemplifies this virtue by asking, "Is the world really made up of smaller and smaller things? Or is this merely a prejudice carried over from our experience with the world of everyday experience?"
Among the difficulties of OSR is its view that only the mathematical structure can be known and that it is all what exist, i.e., nothing exists in the real world other than the structure. Even particles like electrons or photons do not exist as real relata but are devices meant to attain knowledge of the structure. The idea that the relational structure has no relata (entities between which there can be relations) is counterintuitive, and has been ruthlessly criticized. So far the proponents of OSR could not clarify their contention that the mathematical structure is also physical. In spite of the inadequacy of arguments for OSR, the position remains interesting and bold.
Structural realism holds, simply put, that scientific research discovers structural invariants of physical events -- we don't know exactly what incarnates the laws of physics and special sciences in 'ultimate reality', only that they are empirically blemish-free -- but unlike the neo-empiricist Bas van Fraasen the structural realists hold this is a perfectly complete grasping of a mind-independent reality. Conclusions can be quickly drawn from adopting this standpoint; all the supposed strangeness of quantum mechanics with its probabilistic particles and lack of firm ontological commitments must serve as a guidepost, rather than a rebuke, to ontology viewed as a handmaiden of the sciences, rather than a Philistine rebuttal from an armchair. However, in this book these conclusions are too quickly drawn -- Ladyman and Ross guffaw about the "Solar System" view of particles, atoms and molecules, which they claim has been taken over from high-school chemistry into supposedly scientific metaphysics, but not so long ago their fellow philosopher of science Arthur Fine had to remind people that the "Natural Ontological Attitude" really did mean, in some very basic way, that there were chairs and tables and, yes, books no matter what some era of physical science might say was more basic.
Contemporary metaphysics, not yet out from under the shadow of David Lewis and his particular viewpoints, is ready for a systematic critique: and yes, physicalists perhaps ought to be taught what physics in the era of massively multiple dimensions does say "on what there is". However, he philosophical drive of Ladyman and Ross is not strong enough: if they attempt to leave the discussion of "worldview" to social phenomenologists teaching in sociology departments, it is because they have not read their Lewis (or Strawson or Quine) seriously enough. A one-sided contribution to a one-sided debate.