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FramePhys Collaboration Project Notes.

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

Updated 23rd Jul 2020

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 the 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.

Meaning of Counterfactuals

Counterfactual conditionals are a class of conditional sentence which allow speakers to discuss what would or could have been true under potentially different circumstances, e.g. "If it was raining right now, then Sally would be inside."

Found this interesting image from an album cover by a band called Counterfactuals

In epistemology, a defeater is a belief B1 that is held to be incompatible with another belief B2, hence arguments or evidence supporting B1 can be used to refute B2.


Reading Group 3rd June 2020 - Counterpossibles in Biology

Brian McLoone May 28, 2020


A mathematical model in population biology can be formulated as a counterfactual conditional, with the model’s assumptions in the antecedent and its predictions in the consequent. Interestingly, some of these models appear to have assumptions that are metaphysically impossible. I have in mind models that use calculus to characterize the dynamics of a population of necessarily discrete organisms (rabbits, for example). For the math to work, these models must assume that population size is a continuous quantity, an assumption that is necessarily false if the organisms being modeled are necessarily discrete. If we put this impossible assumption in the antecedent of a counterfactual formulation of the model, we end up with a counterpossible. Why does this matter? According to a prominent view in counterfactual semantics, the vacuity thesis, all counterpossibles are vacuously true, that is, true merely because their antecedents are necessarily false. But counterpossibles formulated from models in population biology are rather obviously not all vacuously true—some are non-vacuously true, and some are false. I go on to show how an alternative semantics, one that employs impossible worlds, can deliver the truth-value judgments about these counterpossibles that we seek.

Look up Williamson Theory

Interesting film about the physicist David Bohm -

Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm --

notes - tried to understand the nature of existence and fundamental questions about life. He looked for a sense of wholeness - wider view to understanding - information potential - invites us to participate in reality - each of us co-creators

Overcoming fragmentation/divisions - solve problems together - Oneness.

This is interesting for me as some of his references are spiritual and religious terms.

I am searching through science and logic for a guide on how to live a 'good life' To do this you have to bring the objective and subjective together to have wholeness or oneness. Science cannot ignore intuition and consciousness. You only have to look to quantum mechanics to realise there is something outside this reality which is the driving force.

Just before Bohn died he said "I feel like I am on the edge of something". He was just about to find out what it is !

The role of models have come up in every paper we have looked at . This week we are examing models in science. This ideal of models in science has gained a great interest in me and presents possibilities for visual work. I am looking forward to discussing the paper -

How scientific models can explain

Alisa Bokulich Received: 22 January 2008 / Accepted: 4 February 2009 / Published online: 15 May 2009 © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Abstract Scientific models invariably involve some degree of idealization, abstraction, or fictionalization of their target system. Nonetheless, I argue that there are circumstances under which such false models can offer genuine scientific explanations. After reviewing three different proposals in the literature for how models can explain, I shall introduce a more general account of what I call model explanations, which specify the conditions under which models can be counted as explanatory. I shall illustrate this new framework by applying it to the case of Bohr’s model of the atom, and conclude by drawing some distinctions between phenomenological models, explanatory models, and fictional models.

Keywords Models · Explanation · Fictions · Structural explanation · Bohr’s atom

Scientific Models in Philosophy of Science

Scientific models have been center stage in the philosophy of science for the past twenty-five years. And yet, a systematic book-length discussion has not been forthcoming. Daniela Bailer-Jones admirably fills this gap. Her new book will be essential reading for anybody interested in models, how they function, and what their cognitive role in science is. Stephan Hartmann, Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science


Lots of ideas emerging especially after the reading group on Wed 22nd July

A sentence lifted from the paper:

'models have to have a certain amount of idealisation and fictionalism in order to be a model. Otherwise its just a straightforward explanation'.

Model - A total for generating and testing hypotheses.

I am thinking of making my own scientific model but with artistic information.

The information would include my research and ideas for new work. This model could then be available for artists and scientists alike to scrutinise .

Ideas - pleats and mathematical space fillers as vehicles to hold more information

Space filling curves diagram

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