An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics
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Table of Contents

Preface vi

1 What is Spatiotemporal Locality? 1

1 The Big Picture 1

2 Causal Relations between Events 3

3 Action by Contact 7

4 Spatial, Temporal, and Spatiotemporal Locality Defined 13

5 Intrinsic Properties and Noncausal Connections 17

Discussion Questions 23

Notes 24

2 Fields to the Rescue? 26

1 The Electric Force 26

2 The Electric Field and its Possible Interpretations 32

3 Potentials 42

4 Lines of Force 47

Discussion Questions 61

Notes 65

3 Dispositions and Causes 67

1 Introduction 67

2 Dispositions, Categorical Bases, and Subjunctive Conditionals 71

3 Are the Categorical Bases in Themselves Unknowable? 79

Discussion Questions 90

Notes 92

4 Locality and Scientific Explanation 94

1 Is Action at a Distance Impossible? 94

2 Brute Facts and Ultimate Explanations 95

3 Which Facts are Brute? 100

Discussion Questions 107

Notes 110

5 Fields, Energy, and Momentum 111

1 Introduction 111

2 The Argument from Conserved Quantities 112

3 Why Energy’s Ontological Status Matters 120

4 Energy in Classical Physics 125

5 Energy in the Fields 131

6 Energy Flow and the Poynting Vector 136

7 A Moral Regarding the Testability of Theories 153

Discussion Questions 157

Notes 162

6 Is there Nothing but Fields? 165

1 Is Electric Charge Real? 165

2 Faraday’s Picture 167

Discussion Questions 171

Notes 173

7 Relativity and the Unification of Electricity and Magnetism 175

1 Unification in Physics 175

2 How Relativity Unifies Electricity and Magnetism 180

3 Einstein’s Argument from Asymmetry 186

4 The Interdependence of Philosophy and Physics 199

Discussion Questions 201

Notes 203

8 Relativity, Energy, Mass, and the Reality of Fields 205

1 Classical Physics and the “Relativity of Motion” 206

2 Relativistic Invariants and the Unification that Relativity Achieves: Space and Time 210

3 Relativistic Invariants and the Unification that Relativity Achieves: Energy and Momentum 221

4 Mass and the Meaning of “e = mc2 ” 224

5 Fields – At Last! 240

6 Erasing the Line between Scientific Theory and its Philosophical Interpretation 249

Discussion Questions 250

Notes 252

9 Quantum Metaphysics 255

1 Is Quantum Mechanics Complete? 255

2 The Bell Inequalities 263

3 For Whom the Bell Tolls 271

4 Wrestling with Nonlocality 280

Discussion Questions 298

Notes 300

Final Exam 302

References 305

Index 316

About the Author


Marc Lange is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington. He is author of Natural Laws in Scientific Practice (2000).

Reviews

"Marc Lange uses the philosophical tools of traditional metaphysics to analyze examples drawn from electromagnetic theory and quantum mechanics and in turn uses these examples to refine some of the basic concepts of traditional metaphysics. The result is an excellent introduction to the best sort of metaphysics, the sort that is informed by our best physical theories." Jeffrey Barrett, University of California, Irvine

"This is philosophy of physics that meets even Feynman's challenge of making a difference for physics while it attains Hempel's standards of clarity. I can hardly imagine teaching the philosophy of physics, at any level, from introductory to graduate seminar, without using this book!" Alex Rosenberg, Duke University
"Eschewing the technical jargon of philosophy of science, though he is a fluent contributor to journals and refers to current issues in appropriate notes, Lange employs a breezy, common language style, complete with discussion questions suitable for an undergraduate introductory class. [...] Highly recommended to philosphically inexperienced physicists as well as current students in philosophy of science. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty." P.D. Skiff, Bard College, Choice, January 2003
"An accomplished philosopher of science, Lange introduces the epistemological consequences of a central idea in physics - locality ... Eschewing the technical jargon of philosophy of science, though he is a fluent contributor to journals and feres to current issues in appropriate notes, Lange employs a breezy, commom language style, complete with discussion questions suitable for an undergraduate introductory class ... his introduction to the issues via concrete example is very effective and unique. Highly recommended to philosophically inexperienced physicists as well as current students in philosophy of science." Choice

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