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Richard Healey

Tim Maudlin

The Metaphysics within Physics

The Metaphysics within Physics is a collection of essays written by Tim Maudlin over a period of about a decade, arguing for what might be thought of as the 'common sense' philosophy on the nature of laws within science.

Maudlin believes that the laws of physics are ontologically primitive and that the flow of time is ontologically primitive. This is contrasted in the book with the Humean point of view that the universe is made up of local 'happenings' and that the physical laws and even the flow of time are devised by us to try to make sense of this. I read this book as someone from a physics background wanting to find out more about the philosophical discussions dealing with the subject, and I felt that this book was a bit more straightforward than some I have seen. True you can still sometimes get lost amoung the counterfactuals, but Maudlin does use easy to grasp examples during the discussion, and what it more, examples that are based in real physics. Hence the title of the book, Maudlin feels that philosophers should know more about modern physics, not simply as the subject matter of what they are discussing, but also as a source of new ways of thinking about the world. In particular chapter 3, ' Suggestions from Physics for Deep Metaphysics' puts forward this argument. I would also recommend chapter 4, 'On the passing of Time' to those with an interest in the philosophy of time. info
Hardcover 192 pages  
ISBN: 0199218218
Salesrank: 4297712
Published: 2007 Clarendon Press
Amazon price $69.21
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Hardcover 210 pages  
ISBN: 0199218218
Salesrank: 3253892
Weight:0.75 lbs
Published: 2007 Oxford University Press
Amazon price £65.00
Marketplace:New from £61.20:Used from £35.00
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Hardcover 208 pages  
ISBN: 0199218218
Salesrank: 3419777
Weight:0.75 lbs
Published: 2007 Oxford University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 108.40
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Product Description
What fundamental account of the world is implicit in physical theory? Physics straightforwardly postulates quarks and electrons, but what of the more intangible elements, such as laws of nature, universals, causation and the direction of time? Do they have a place in the physical structure of the world?

Tim Maudlin argues that the ontology derived from physics takes a form quite different from those most commonly defended by philosophers. Physics postulates irreducible fundamental laws, eschews universals, does not require a fundamental notion of causation, and makes room for the passage of time. In a series of linked essays The Metaphysics Within Physics outlines an approach to metaphysics opposed to the Humean reductionism that motivates much analytical metaphysics.