Constituting Objectivity :

Transcendental Perspectives on Modern Physics

 

Bitbol, Michel; Kerszberg, Pierre; Petitot, Jean (Eds.)

 

The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science, Vol. 74. ISBN: 978-1-4020-9509-2

 

Springer Verlag, April 2009

 

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In recent years, many specialists of modern physics, from General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics to Super-String Theory and Noncommutative Geometry, came to the conclusion that the problem of how objectivity is constituted (rather than given) can no longer be avoided, and therefore that a transcendental approach is now philosophically relevant.

The usual excuse for skipping this task is that the historical form given by Kant to transcendental epistemology has been challenged by Relativity and Quantum Physics. But from Cassirer to Von WeizsŠcker, it became clear that the true challenge was not to force modern physics into a rigidly construed static version of Kant's philosophy, but to adapt Kant's method, i.e. to provide it with flexibility and generality. Just as Empiricism cannot be reduced to the letter of Hume's Treatise, so Transcendentalism cannot be reduced to the letter of Kant's Critiques.

Our own work, in addition to the seminar we organized in Paris on this topic, convinced us that the time was ripe to systematize the efforts along this direction. The central aims of our collective research are thus the following :

1) Point out the basic methodological tools Kant used for his transcendental reading of Newtonian Mechanics and Cosmology ;

2) Examine how these tools were applied and transformed during the heyday of classical physics (from Helmholtz to Hertz) ;

3) Revisit the early transcendental approaches to Relativistic and Quantum Physics (Cassirer, Weyl, the young Reichenbach, the young Carnap etc.) ;

4) Apply transcendental procedures to contemporary physics, including detailed analysis of the formalism and the experimental procedures.

5) Compare this ground-breaking transcendental interpretation with other readings of contemporary physics (such as structural realism and constructive empiricism).

In this book, the top specialists of the field then explore the history of the connections between physics and the philosophical inheritance of Kant, and pin down the methodological core of transcendental epistemology that must be used in order to throw light on the foundations of modern physics.

 

 

Contents

 

Introduction .................................................................................................... 1

Michel Bitbol, Pierre Kerszberg, and Jean Petitot

 

Part I Historical Survey of Transcendental Readings of Physics

 

A Kant and Newtonian Mechanics

 

Newton and Kant on Absolute Space: From Theology

to Transcendental Philosophy ....................................................................... 35

Michael Friedman

On KantÕs Transcendental Account of Newtonian Mechanics.... 51

Pierre Kerszberg

 

B The Relativized A Priori: Cassirer and the Founders

of Logical Positivism

 

Ernst Cassirer: Open Constitution by Functional

A Priori and Symbolical Structuring ................................................... 75

Christiane Schmitz-Rigal

On the Transposition of the Substantial into the Functional:

Bringing CassirerÕs Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics

into the Twenty-First Century ....................................................... 95

Angelo Cei and Steven French

Moritz Schlick: Between Synthetic A Priori Judgment

and Conventionalism................................................................... 117

Christian Bonnet and Ronan de Calan

CarnapÕs Relativised A Priori and Ontology ........................................127

Paolo Parrini

 

Part II Transcendental Epistemologies and Modern Physics

 

A General Issues: Concepts and Principles

 

The Transcendental Domain of Physics ................................... 147

Rom HarrŽ

Determinism, Determination, and Objectivity

in Modern Physics............. 157

Gordon Brittan, Jr.

The Constitution of Objects in Classical Physics

and in Quantum Physics................................................................... 167

Peter Mittelstaedt

Laws of Nature: The Kantian Approach....................................... 181

Giovanni Boniolo

The Transcendental Role of the Principle of Anticipations

of Perception in Quantum Mechanics................................. 201

Patricia Kauark-Leite

Can the Principle of Least Action Be Considered

a Relativized A Priori?............................................................... 213

Michael Stšltzner

A Critical Account of Physical Reality............................................. 225

Brigitte Falkenburg

 

B The Scientific Revolutions of the Twentieth Century and Beyond

 

B.1 Relativity and Cosmology

 

Einstein, Kant, and the Relativized A Priori ................................. 249

Michael Friedman

A Cognizable Universe: Transcendental Arguments

in Physical Cosmology ........................................................................ 265

Yuri Balashov

Hermann Weyl and ŅFirst PhilosophyÓ:

Constituting Gauge Invariance .......................................................... 275

Thomas Ryckman

 

B.2 Quantum Mechanics: History

 

Old Wine Enriched in New Bottles: Kantian Flavors

in BohrÕs Viewpoint of Complementarity ...................................... 297

Steen Brock

A Transcendental Account of Correspondence

and Complementarity ........................................................... 313

Hern‡n Pringe

The Convergence of Transcendantal Philosophy

and Quantum Physics: Grete Henry-HermannÕs 1935

Pioneering Proposal ............................................................ 325

LŽna Soler

 

B.3 Quantum Mechanics: Ideas

 

Decoherence and the Constitution of Objectivity............ 343

Michel Bitbol

The Entangled Roots of Objective Knowledge............................. 355

Stefano Osnaghi

Can Classical Description of Physical Reality

Be Considered Complete? ....................................................... 371

Gabriel Catren

 

B.4 Beyond Relativity and Quantum Mechanics

 

A View of the Symbolic Structure of Modern Physics .......... 385

Ion-Olimpiu Stamatescu

Symbolic Constructions in Quantum Field Theory ......... 399

H. G. Dosch, V. MŸller and N. Sieroka

Non-Commutative Geometry and Transcendental Physics.... 411

Jean Petitot

 

Part III Debate About the Relevance of Transcendental

Epistemology for Modern Physics: Transcendentalism,

Empiricism and Realism

 

Can Empiricism Leave Its Realism Behind? Toward a Dialogue

with Transcendentalists .......................................................... 455

Bas C. van Fraassen

A PhysicistÕs Approach to Kant ................................................ 477

Bernard dÕEspagnat

Structural Realism and Abductive-Transcendental

Arguments..... 487

Holger Lyre

Provisional Knowledge ................................................................ 499

Paul Teller

 

Bibliography ........................................................................... 511

 

 

REVIEWS

 

ŅThis collection not only meets its aims, it also uncovers an emerging and exciting field of
study with multifaceted possibilities. ... It would also function as a remarkably versatile and constructive resource for graduate students working in departments which fall roughly under the banner of history and/or philosophy of science. The more formal articles would also be of great interest to any physicists looking for an alternative to traditional metaphysics–one where the constitution of objectivity becomes paramount.Ó (Jacob V. Pearce, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 24 (4), December, 2010)