SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Natural Properties at the Heart of Scientific Practice
(Philosophy of Science, )

In this presentation I point out an incompatibility between the Lewisian metaphysics of natural properties and the scientific practice. I couch the argument in the terms of the perspectivist motto due to Margaret Morrison: one property, many models (Morrison 2011, p. 342). Within the Lewisian metaphysics of natural properties, the building blocks of the world are a mosaic mind-independent, "natural", "intrinsic" and non-modal properties (Lewis 1986, p. IX). Natural properties are related to predicates from fundamental physics, studied and investigated in scientific practice (e.g. mass, charge, momentum). The scientific knowledge of the natural properties should take the form of a final God-Eye-View, a complete description of the all natural properties.
Our argument takes the example of how scientific measurement is involved in studying mass. Scientific measurement is a sophisticated theoretical, empirical, and mathematical enterprise that relies on a plethora of idealized, and partial models of the properties under investigation (Teller 2018, pp. 294-295). The measurement of mass involves prima facie two kinds of models: a classical Newtonian model in which mass is an absolute propery, a mixture of inertial and gravitational mass; the relativistic model where mass is a relational property, being relative to an inertial frame.
Depending on which model we can manage to pick out, we arrive at different concepts of mass ? the choice of the model depends on the interests, the aims, and the values of the agent. We find out in scientific practice a plurality of concepts of mass rather than a unique and natural property. Or, again, we arrive at multiple models with which scientists attempt to theorize about the same property. What I suggest is the Lewisian natural properties cannot account for the pluralism involved in measurement and modeling. It is far from clear whether there are unique and mind-independent natural properties out there, being given that our knowledge about the properties is relative to various scientific perspectives.

Chair: Ina Jäntgen
Time: 10:40-11:10, 10 September 2021 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.006
Remark: (Online Talk)

Daian Bica 
(University of Bucharest, Romania)

I am a graduate student from University of Bucharest and I am about to finish the "Theoretical Philosophy" Master's Program in the summer. I am currently writing my graduation paper/the dissertation on the perspectivist better best system approach to laws of nature wherein I am aiming in particular to integrate HPS with contemporary metaphysics of laws. As general interests in philosophy, I would enumerate general philosophy of science, history of science and metaphysics - a range of topics which I am blending in my work.

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