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Material realism under attack

  1. Jan 22, 2006 #1
    How can the materialistic viewpoint be defended from the following attacks:
    1) Local interactions vs. spooky action at a distance: Action at a distance suggests non-material interaction.
    2) Descriptive laws vs. prescriptive laws: Prescriptive laws are non-material entities, and this is a no-no for a pure materialist.
    3) Anti-realist account of causation vs. realist account of causation: Realist views of causation are based on real causal relations and laws, which are non-material entities.
    4) Elimination of metaphysics: Metaphysics is an undesirable quality for any purely materialist account of nature as the 20th century positivists made pretty clear.
    5) An infinite aged universe: Matter coming into sudden existence implies that a non-material principle or cause was responsible for this act (versus a previous material explanation).

    Each of the above theses has been dealt severe blows. (1) is falling through the ropes after the Aspect experiments. (2) can't account for such experimental successes such as Casimir forces and other predictions using virtual particles. (3) cannot account for quantum mechanics which emphasizes a causal realism with such concepts as teleportation, entanglement, etc.. (4) has been a dismal failure as no materialist perspective has been able to eliminate the increasing role that metaphysics plays in science. (5) has continued to favor a finite age to the universe with the realization of singularity theorems showing that the big bang/inflationary cosmologies must have a beginning.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2006 #2
    Yes, you are correct. What do you think a physicist would answer ? Shut up and calculate. Physics really doesn't exist at all, what we have is a series of material configurations that behave according to laws that seem to work. We have contraptions, measurements and imaginary models that have a one to one correspondence to the material - instrumental configurations we invent to measure, see farther, and produce technical instruments. In the end it is really all technology which is all material manipulations which could be anything we desire to invent. A simulated world on a computer is just as real as any material world. If we lived in a simulation and produced other simulations and this loop continued down many times, matter would not even exist anymore, science wouldn't mean anything, in fact it would mark the end of science and in a sense science would have become pure art in as much as it would have become pure invention of further simulations. An infinite increase of scientific knowledge in one of these worlds would be possible but also meaningless since any universe could be designed and any interacting neural networks - modified minds could be designed to interact in any way.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2006
  4. Feb 3, 2006 #3
    Why do you think SPAD is anti-materialistic ? There was no "speed limit"
    on matter before Einstein
     
  5. Feb 3, 2006 #4
    These five points have all been raised by an anti-materialist. I am interested in well-reasoned responses that restore a material basis to the World. I accept that this might not be possible but I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that the points raised here arise from a misinterpretation of the World.
     
  6. Feb 3, 2006 #5
    (1) There is some sort of material thread or wormhole-like entity that connects entangled objects, allowing them to interact faster than the speed of light would suggest;
    (2) Ethics are not inconsistent with materialism;
    (3) When a cue ball hits the 8-ball and causes it to move, preexisting, real kinetic energy is transferred--a "cause" is not manufactured out of thin air;
    (4)materialism is an extravagant metaphysical theory and it's the opposite of positivism;
    (5) matter and energy are one, so it's a simple matter to convert new matter out of energy.
     
  7. Feb 6, 2006 #6
  8. Feb 6, 2006 #7
    1) Local interactions vs. spooky action at a distance: Action at a distance suggests non-material interaction.


    It is hard to see why. There are two issues here: action
    occuring accross a vacuum, and non-local effects -- where
    non-local means space-like, faster than the S.O.L.

    Action occuring accross a vacuum (locally and relativistically)
    can be explained by extending the concept of matter/energy
    to include classical fields. Or by virtual particles.

    The spooky action-at-a-distance of quantum mechanics isn't
    conventional causality and does not involve signalling which negates
    a lot of the problem in the first place.

    2) Descriptive laws vs. prescriptive laws: Prescriptive laws are non-material entities, and this is a no-no for a pure materialist.

    But they are hardy mental entities. If they are anything, they are a
    sort of unversal or Platonic form.

    3) Anti-realist account of causation vs. realist account of causation: Realist views of causation are based on real causal relations and laws, which are non-material entities.


    4) Elimination of metaphysics: Metaphysics is an undesirable quality for any purely materialist account of nature as the 20th century positivists made pretty clear.

    Idealistic metaphysics is metaphysics too.

    5) An infinite aged universe: Matter coming into sudden existence implies that a non-material principle or cause was responsible for this act (versus a previous material explanation).

    Huh ? If causality is a law that only applies to and within the material universe,
    then there is no need to answer the question what caused the material
    universe.
     
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