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Dynamic and stochastic systems as a framework for metaphysics and the philosophy of science

List, Christian and Pivato, Marcus (2016) Dynamic and stochastic systems as a framework for metaphysics and the philosophy of science. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Scientists often think of the world (or some part of it) as a dynamical system, a stochastic process, or a generalization of such a system. Prominent examples of systems are (i) the system of planets orbiting the sun or any other classical mechanical system, (ii) a hydrogen atom or any other quantum-mechanical system, and (iii) the earth’s atmosphere or any other statistical mechanical system. We introduce a simple and general framework for describing such systems and show how it can be used to examine some familiar philosophical questions, including the following: how can we define nomological possibility, necessity, determinism, and indeterminism; what are symmetries and laws; what regularities must a system display to make scientific inference possible; is there any metaphysical basis for invoking principles of parsimony such as Occam’s Razor when we make such inferences; and what is the role of space and time in a system? Our framework is intended to serve as a toolbox for the formal analysis of systems that is applicable in several areas of philosophy.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
List, Christianc.list@lse.ac.uk
Pivato, Marcusmarcuspivato@gmail.com
Keywords: Dynamical systems, stochastic processes, nomological possibility and necessity, determinism, indeterminism, laws, symmetries, regularities, scientific inference, ergodicity, Occam's Razor, space, time, formal metaphysics
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Christian List
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2016 15:55
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2016 15:55
Item ID: 12371
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 23 April 2016
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12371

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