SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Laws of Nature in Branching Time
(Philosophy of Science, English)

Our intuition suggests that our world is full of modalities. We can distinguish some ordered possibilities: e.g. logical, physical or metaphysical (e.g. Muller 2010). One way of talking discussing them collectively is the formalism of branching time (BT). BT structures (trees) consist of a set of moments and an ordering . Unlike Lewis's possible worlds, they allow us to express the concept of possibilities with temporal terms -- a closed past and an open future from a local perspective.

Imagine that we have a BT structure (e.g. representing our world) with an interpretation. I will try to find conditions, which would allow us to distinguish formulas expressing Laws of Nature from the set of all other interpreted formulas. In order to achieve this goal, I will inter alia explore the idea of conceivable worlds (see: Xu 1997). As a basic criteria that should be satisfied by a sentence to be considered a Law of Nature I chose the one indicated by Swartz.

The most important issue is to distinguish Laws of Nature from the logical or semantic truths. Firstly I would define an operator ◻L for the latter kind of truth (◻L p = ''p is a logical or semantical truth'') and an operator ◻P for a potential physical truth (◻Pp = ''p is a potential for a Law of Nature''). The next step would be distinguishing sentences expressing Laws of Nature from among the potential sentences. I would consider some basic ideas of formalisation (e.g. Dretske 1977) and define them using the first-order logic for BT model (Rumberg 2016). Finally I shall provide the conclusive criteria which a sentence must meet in order to express a Law of Nature in BT.

Finally, I shall point out the numerous advantages of the Laws of Nature in BT over other concepts, i.e. possible worlds. I will try to show that the BT is a useful way of dealing with standard objections (e.g. van Frassen 1989, Bird 1998), as it solves some basic problems of the traditional attitude towards the Laws of Nature and indicates a number of new problems.

Chair: Iulian Toader
Time: 10:35-11:05, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.006

Marta Emilia Bielińska 
(Jagiellonian University, Poland)

Marta Emilia Bielińska is an undergraduate student in Interfaculty Individual Studies in the Humanities (main division: Philosophy) and studied in Mathematics and Natural Sciences (main division: Theoretical Physics) at Jagiellonian University in Cracow. She is interested in formal epistemology, philosophy of Physics and logic.

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