•  34
    Biology meets Physics: Reductionism and Multi-scale Modeling of Morphogenesis
    with Sara Green
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 7161 20-34. 2017.
    A common reductionist assumption is that macro-scale behaviors can be described "bottom-up" if only sufficient details about lower-scale processes are available. The view that an "ideal" or "fundamental" physics would be sufficient to explain all macro-scale phenomena has been met with criticism from philosophers of biology. Specifically, scholars have pointed to the impossibility of deducing biological explanations from physical ones, and to the irreducible nature of distinctively biological pr…Read more
  •  31
    Quantum Chaos and Semiclassical Mechanics
    PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992 50-65. 1992.
    This paper discusses the problem of finding and defining chaos in quantum mechanics. While chaotic time evolution appears to be ubiquitous in classical mechanics, it is apparently absent in quantum mechanics in part because for a bound, isolated quantum system, the evolution of its state is multiply periodic. This has led a number of investigators to search for semiclassical signatures of chaos. Here I am concerned with the status of semiclassical mechanics as a distinct third theory of the asym…Read more
  •  24
    ‘Into a Mist’: Asymptotic theories on a caustic
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 28 (3): 395-413. 1997.
  •  24
    Chaos and algorithmic complexity
    with Homer White
    Foundations of Physics 26 (3): 307-336. 1996.
    Our aim is to discover whether the notion of algorithmic orbit-complexity can serve to define “chaos” in a dynamical system. We begin with a mostly expository discussion of algorithmic complexity and certain results of Brudno, Pesin, and Ruelle (BRP theorems) which relate the degree of exponential instability of a dynamical system to the average algorithmic complexity of its orbits. When one speaks of predicting the behavior of a dynamical system, one usually has in mind one or more variables in…Read more
  •  21
    Philosophical Implications of Kadanoff's work on the Renormalization Group
    Journal of Statistical Physics 167 (3-4). 2017.
    This paper investigates the consequences for our understanding of physical theories as a result of the development of the renormalization group. Kadanoff's assessment of these consequences is discussed. What he called the ``extended singularity theorem'' poses serious difficulties for philosophical interpretation of theories. Several responses are discussed. The resolution demands a philosophical rethinking of the role of mathematics in physical theorizing.
  •  20
    Philosophers of physics are very familiar with foundational problems in quantum mechanics and in the theory of relativity. In both fields, the puzzles, if not solved, are at least reasonably well formulated and possess well-characterized solution strategies. Sklar’s book Physics and Chance focuses on a pair of theories, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, for which puzzles and foundational paradoxes abound, but where there is very little agreement upon the means with which they may best be…Read more
  •  19
    Physics and Chance: Philosophical Issues in the Foundations of Statistical Mechanics
    with Lawrence Sklar
    Philosophical Review 104 (4): 624. 1995.
    Philosophers of physics are very familiar with foundational problems in quantum mechanics and in the theory of relativity. In both fields, the puzzles, if not solved, are at least reasonably well formulated and possess well-characterized solution strategies. Sklar’s book Physics and Chance focuses on a pair of theories, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, for which puzzles and foundational paradoxes abound, but where there is very little agreement upon the means with which they may best be…Read more
  •  7
    ‘Into a Mist’: Asymptotic theories on a caustic
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 28 (3): 395-413. 1997.
  •  2
    Mesoscale modeling is often considered merely as a practical strategy used when information on lower-scale details is lacking, or when there is a need to make models cognitively or computationally tractable. Without dismissing the importance of practical constraints for modeling choices, we argue that mesoscale models should not just be considered as abbreviations or placeholders for more “complete” models. Because many systems exhibit different behaviors at various spatial and temporal scales, …Read more
  • I. Prigogine has proposed, and the writings of N. S. Krylov to some extent suggest, a novel and unorthodox solution to foundational problems in statistical mechanics. In particular, the view claims to offer new insight into two interconnected problems: understanding the role of probability in physics, and that of reconciling the irreversibility of physical processes with the temporal symmetry of dynamical theories. The approach in question advocates a conception of the state of a system which in…Read more