Sound and Fury

Signifying nothing

PhD research proposal take 1.

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[Edit: since writing this I have started my PhD. The topic is nothing at all like this. Please refer to my website for details of what I think I am currently studying.]

So here is what I’m thinking of maybe doing next year. This is likely to change quite a lot as I mull it over. But the main thought is there. I’m worried the thought is quite close to what Chris was doing in his Philosophy of Physics essay, and quite close to James’ (Ladyman) book Every Thing Must Go. But how I got to this place is different, so perhaps I’ll write about that so as to differentiate my thoughts from theirs. The big question is this: what sort of things can science tell us about philosophy? How I came to the Big Question is the best way to explain it…

When I was writing my Philosophy of Physics essay I noticed that some philosophies of probability were incompatible with some interpretations of quantum mechanics. The probabilities of localisations in GRW simply cannot be given a frequentist interpretation. This was one germ of an idea.

Another goes back even further to my ruminations about geometry and spacetime which I’ve been thinking about more recently. (My MA dissertation is likely to be on the philosophy of geometry and structuralism) So I was wondering what theories about spacetime can tell us about the philosophy of geometry. Another strand in the Big Question.

I also thought I could expand the scope beyond physics by looking at the links between evolutionary psychology and ethics. And in fact between robotics, computing and general philosophy of science (the topic of a current essay of mine…)

So, to return to the Big Question. I don’t really want to make big claims about what science tells us about philosophy, but rather to look at what philosophical positions are untenable given a certain scientific outlook.

I think it was a good idea to write this down. The mere act of writing it has helped to crystallise what it is I’m thinking.

As an indication of how my mind works; I’m now trying to think of what TV show (maybe?) talks about crystallising a bee… Someone has a bee in their bonnet and… Oh I don’t know. How I ever manage to get anything useful written with my brain going off on tangents like that, I just don’t know…

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Written by Seamus

March 3, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Posted in me me me, philosophy

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