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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics: Locality, Fields, Energy, and Mass

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics: Locality, Fields, Energy, and Mass

Marc Lange

ISBN: 978-0-631-22501-0

Jul 2002

344 pages

In Stock

$56.95

Description

This book combines physics, philosophy, and history in a radical new approach to introducing the philosophy of physics. It leads the reader through several central problems in the philosophy of physics by tracing their connections to a single issue: whether a cause must be spatiotemporally local to its effect, or whether action at a distance can occur
Preface.

1. What Is Spatiotemporal Locality?.

The Big Picture.

Causal Relations between Events.

Action by Contact.

Spatial, Temporal, and Spatiotemporal Locality Defined.

Intrinsic Properties and Noncausal Connections.

You Might Think about...

2. Fields to the Rescue?.

The Electric Force.

The Electric Field and its Possible Interpretations.

Potentials.

Lines of Force.

You Might Think about...

3. Dispositions and Causes:.

Introduction.

Dispositions, Categorical Bases, and Subjunctive Conditionals.

Are the Categorical Bases in Themselves Unknowable?.

You Might Think about...

4. Locality and Scientific Explanation:.

Is Action at a Distance Impossible?.

Brute Facts and Ultimate Explanations.

Which Facts are Brute?.

You Might Think about...

5. Fields, Energy, and Momentum:.

Introduction.

The Argument from Conserved Quantities.

Why Energy's Ontological Status Matters.

Energy in Classical Physics.

Energy in the Fields.

Energy Flow and the Poynting Vector.

A Moral Regarding the Testability of Theories.

You Might Think about...

6. Is There Nothing But Fields?.

Is Electric Charge Real?.

Faraday's Picture.

You Might Think about...

7. Relativity and the Unification of Electricity and Magnetism:.

Unification in Physics.

How Relativity Unifies Electricity and Magnetism.

Einstein's Argument from Asymmetry.

The Interdependence of Philosophy and Physics.

You Might Think about...

8. Relativity, Energy, Mass, and the Reality of Fields:.

Classical Physics and the "Relativity of Motion".

Relativistic Invariants and the Unification that Relativity Achieves: Space and Time.

Relativistic Invariants and the Unification that Relativity Achieves: Energy and Momentum.

Mass and the Meaning of "E = mc2".

Fields -- at Last!.

Erasing the Line between Scientific Theory and its Philosophical Interpretation.

You Might Think about...

9. Quantum Metaphysics:.

Is Quantum Mechanics Complete?.

The Bell Inequalities.

For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Wrestling with Nonlocality.

Entanglement, Reduction, and Intrinsic Properties.

You Might Think about...

Final Exam.

References.

Index.

"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 <!--end-->


"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


  • Combines physics, philosophy, and history in a radical new approach to introducing the philosophy of physics.

  • Emphasizes the integral role that philosophical analysis plays in physics.

  • Presents many concrete examples in which struggles with conceptual issues drove innovation in physics.

  • Contains stimulating exercises and engaging discussions that allow students to engage critically with the issues.