FramePhys Collaboration Project Notes.

Updated: Jun 24

The intention of this blog is to keep a record of all my research as part of the collaboration with theFramephys Project based at the Department of Philosophy of Physics, Birmingham University.

Jean Baynham - On/Off - Acrylic on Paper 2020

To record research

To use the research as supportive evidence for funding application

To record my research in a presentable format to keep others updated on my progress

FraMEPhys – A Framework for Metaphysical Explanation in Physics – is a five year research project developing a new account of the contribution of metaphysics to how physics explains our world. It is supported by a European Research Council Starting Grant of €1.5m, and led by Dr Alastair Wilson of the Department of Philosophy.

The FraMEPhys project team will investigate the features that are had in common by the forms of explanation that feature in our most abstract and fundamental physical theories and by the ‘grounding’ explanations more usually studied in contemporary metaphysics.

These distinctive metaphysical explanations include the way in which the temperature of a gas depends on the motion of its molecules, the way in which the solidity of a table depends on the chemical bonding forces holding it together, and the way in which life itself depends on organised self-sustaining metabolic processes.

The new general framework developed by FraMEPhys will enable greater understanding of such explanations in physics, generalising approaches that have been employed successfully in recent empirical science for modeling more familiar causal explanations. The new framework will then be applied to three challenging cases of explanation in the philosophy of physics – the geometry of spacetime, time travel around causal loops, and entanglement between quantum particles.

I have begun my research by attending the reading group and lectures as well as joining the online communication Slack of the FramePhys Project

Useful information

Alistair linked me to a twitter feed amongst his colleague about favorite image of physics.

These images that caught my attention

Fig. 22.13 The universe viewed as a self-excited circuit. Starting small (thin U at upper right), it grows (loopof U) and in time gives rise (upper left) to obsever-participancy — which in turn imparts "tangible reality"(cf. the delayed-choice experiment of Fig. 22.9) to even the earliest days of the universe.

Descartes' fusilli particle account of magnetism

Philip Guston - Artist

Head and Bottle

The images of John Archibald Wheeler's diagrams immediately brought to mind work by Philip Guston. If only they were called ‘The Observer’ but unfortunately not!

Reading Group on 29th April 2020 discussing Holly Andersen, "Patterns, Information, and Causation” paper


Abstract: This paper articulates an account of causation as a collection of information-theoretic relationships between patterns instantiated in the causal nexus. I draw on Dennett’s account of real patterns to characterize potential causal relata as patterns with specific identification criteria and noise tolerance levels, and actual causal relata as those patterns instantiated at some spatiotemporal location in the rich causal nexus as originally developed by Salmon. The rich causal nexus serves the role of ‘pixels’ in the Dennettian pattern ontology. I develop a representation framework using phase space to precisely characterize causal relata, including their degree(s) of counterfactual robustness, their causal profiles, causal connectivity and to identify their privileged grain size or level. By doing so, I show how the philosophical notion of causation can be rendered in a format that is amenable for direct application of mathematical techniques from information theory such that the resulting informational measures are causal informational measures. This account provides a metaphysics of causation that support interventionist semantics and causal modeling and discovery techniques.

Keywords: causation; information; patterns; counterfactuals; interventionism; causal modeling;

Salmon; Woodward; Dennett

H.K. Andersen

Simon Fraser University

Reading Group – Q&A with Holly Andersen (Simon Fraser

University) over Zoom . Tues 12th May

Ideas emerging and to follow up

How are models used in physics? – which comes first the model or the theory

? Are theory's made to fit a model to make it relevant?

‘Mathematic equations do not have to be physical’

Look up Paul Dirac

What is fundamental in physics ?

Newtonian Miracles - good name for a band !

Reading Group 20th May 2020 –Interventions and Counternomic Reasoning

Peter Tan

Counternomics—counterfactuals whose antecedents run contrary to the laws of nature

are commonplace in science but have enjoyed relatively little philosophical attention.

This article discusses a puzzle about our counternomic epistemology, focusing on cases

in which experimental observations are used as evidence for counternomic claims. I show that these cases resist being characterized in familiar interventionist lines, and I suggesta characterization of my own.


“Counternomics” are counterfactuals whose antecedents

run contrary to the laws of nature

1 Counternomics appear in many areas of scientific discourse. Explaining why we know some theory in the history of science to be false frequently requires making counternomic claims. For example, we know classical electromagnetic theory to be false because if it had been true, then a sample of metal’s rate of photoelectron emission would have varied as the wavelengths of light shining on it were altered, and photoelectron emission is unchanged under that intervention. That counterfactual statement—‘If classical electromagnetic theory had been true . . .’—is a counternomic.