Carlo Rovelli’s Helgoland

I've posted a lot over the years on interpretations of quantum mechanics. My writing has tended to focus on comparing the big three: Copenhagen, pilot-wave, and many-worlds. But there are a lot of others. One that has been gaining converts among physicists and others is Carlo Rovelli's relational quantum mechanics (RQM) interpretation. This is an … Continue reading Carlo Rovelli’s Helgoland

The relativity of scientism

Symbol for an atom

Philosopher Jonny Thompson has an article up on RealClearScience profiling the views of Mary Midgley: The Three Myths of Scientism. (Warning: the RealClearScience site is pretty ad intensive.) Midgley was a famous critic of views she regarded as scientism, and often sparred with atheist and antitheist Richard Dawkins. As someone who usually takes the scientific … Continue reading The relativity of scientism

Structural realism, a way to be a scientific realist?

In the scientific realism vs instrumentalism debate, realism is the position that the elements of a scientific theory represent reality. So when general relativity talks about space warping, space really is warping. Instrumentalism, or anti-realism, is the stance that scientific theories are just prediction mechanisms, with no guarantee that they represent reality. Under instrumentalism, general … Continue reading Structural realism, a way to be a scientific realist?

Mark Solms’ theory of consciousness

Cover for The Hidden Spring

I recently finished Mark Solms' new book, The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness. There were a few surprises in the book, and it had what I thought were strong and weak points. My first surprise was Solms' embrace of the theories of Sigmund Freud, including psychoanalysis. Freud's reputation has suffered a … Continue reading Mark Solms’ theory of consciousness

The nature of splitting worlds in the Everett interpretation

Schrodinger's cat in many worlds

This post is about an aspect of the Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. I've given brief primers of the interpretation in earlier posts (see here or here), in case you need one. Sean Carroll, as he does periodically, did an AMA on his podcast. He got a number of questions on the Everett interpretation, … Continue reading The nature of splitting worlds in the Everett interpretation

The right reason to doubt the simulation hypothesis

This weekend, Sabine Hossenfelder did a video and post about the simulation hypothesis, the idea that we might be living in a computer simulation. She dismisses the notion that consciousness can't be a computational simulation, which I think is correct, but then settles on the idea that physics itself can't be simulated, because we have … Continue reading The right reason to doubt the simulation hypothesis

Scientific theories and prescriptive vs descriptive instrumentalism

Those of you who've known me a while may remember that I dislike accepting philosophical labels. For example, although the labels "materialist" or "physicalist" are more or less accurate descriptions of what I think, they often seem to imply an ideological rigidity I'm not comfortable with. My attitude toward these labels somewhat resonates with Neil … Continue reading Scientific theories and prescriptive vs descriptive instrumentalism