Hi Stephen;

'Yeah, the contrafactual stuff is one of the most
counterintuitive aspects of QM that we have to fit into our philosophical modeling.'

well im not sure that possible world stuff is just the province of QM or that we have to fit QM necessarily into any philosophical model. but perhaps those are other arguments.

I feel a bit out of my depth. I did mean to stay out of the debate for a while, but, I think the Sophists have been given a bad rap so im going to have to defend them a little.

For a moment consider Mr. Einstein. Now he just assumed space/time was relative. He had no evidence to suppose it was, Newton's stuff predicted celestial orbits fine. Well, within a narrow margin of error, the kind of margin all theories need, but his equations are as workable now as they were then. We still use them.

So why did Einstein just assume that space/time was relative? Why did he assume that Newton had made a mistake at such a fundemental level? What reason did he have? In truth he didnt have any justifiable reason beyond: 'Why the heck not?' or in otherwords: Sophistry. Real sophism, as opposed to the legal wrangling we all associate with it.

Now, suppose Einstein was right. Suppose space/time actually is relative. We dont /know/ that. We accept it on the basis of the accuracy of the predictions of Albert's equations, but then where does that leave us with regards to Newton? Thats the really buzzing question in my opinion.

It suggests that the accuracy of Newtonian equations do not depend on the /truth/ of his assumptions. Newton got into a big row with Liebniz I think about whether space had a frame of reference. Newton believed it did as we know. Well, if we accept Einstein, the we have to accept that Newton was wrong, AND that this didnt matter. Its this latter result that is a little suprising. We are taught that the truth of a conclusion follows logically from the truth of an arguments premises. Clearly the fact of the matter is more complicated than that. In the realm of inductive reasoning that isnt necessarily so.

Can truth then follow from falsehoods? This is a counter intuitive idea that is difficult to cope with. For the life of me I cant actually see a way out of concluding that in science at least, if not math, truth is not as dependent on the truth of premises as we might like. The situation just gets worse if we protect Newton by attacking relativity. Whats more, I'ld go so far as to say that the accuracy of Newton's equations /depended/ on premises that in fact were false.

Is this really counter intuitive? Perhaps a little bit. I dont think it is counter intuitive in the manner that say wave particle duality is, or that spookynatural quantum entanglement is. Sure, I can accept intuitively that a theory can be wrong in a certain sense but still yield predictions that are accurate.

for me Sophistry is about asking 'What if....'. For me Einstein was the epitome of sophistry. Sophistry is about sifting through possibilities to see how the world could be. Listing the lot, and seeing what follows.

When we talk about the world being a 10 dimensional place existing in an 11th dimension, like bed sheets flapping on a laundry line, I can assure you that some kind of sophistry is at play. Im just sure of it.

In a sense we have the math and we interpret it some way. but there would appear to be a distinction between the accuracy of an equation, and the truth of its interpretation.

I dont know. These are heady issues impossible for one soul to solve. but the upshot for me is that I just can not agree that:

'any model that ignores the implications of QM that have empirical support that we have of the world is sophistry. ;-)' in any sort of perjoritive sense.

We should spare time to ignore the implications of QM, and do that before we spend money building another atom smasher. We should spare some time to be as disrespectful towards QM as Einstein was towards absolute space time.

'BTW, are you familiar with Hintikka's work?'

Nope. I'll google on it.

Speak soon.

Chris. ;)

From: "Stephen Paul King" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: "chris peck" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: contrafactuals
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 13:53:00 -0400

Hi Chris,

Yeah, the contrafactual stuff is one of the most counterintuitive aspects of QM that we have to fit into our philosophical modeling. Personally, I think that any model that ignores the implications of QM that have empirical support that we have of the world is sophistry. ;-)

   BTW, are you familiar with Hintikka's work?

Kindest regards,


----- Original Message ----- From: "chris peck" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 11:54 AM
Subject: Re: joining.

Hi Stephen

Im going to hang about and find my bearings for a while. Im new to this counterfactual stuff. but im looking forward to your posts too. :)


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