13th November: Carl Hoefer (Barcelona) — “Quantum Natural Kinds: like Atoms, or Phlogiston?“
Sala Enzo Paci, Via Festa del Perdono 7, h. 15:00-17:00.
Abstract: In recent years I have defended the thesis that scientific realism can best be defended if we exclude fundamental physics — GR and most quantum theories — from the ambit of the proverbial “best current theories”. As part of this project, I look at how reference to scientific natural kinds falling (partly or wholly) outside the scope of fundamental physics is now stable across theory change, both past theory changes and potential future ones. Some of these kinds that once were exclusively in the domain of fundamental physics — e.g. atoms or electrons — are now stabilised by their roles in a host of theories, models, and technologies, both inside and outside physics. By contrast, many natural kinds found in the most fundamental quantum theories, such as quarks or the Higgs particle (or field), do not have anything like the same empirical credentials. These hypothetical entities might, for all we know, be more like phlogiston than like atoms.
Project: LINEA 1B – UNIMI PER ERC (15-6-3007000-2021; CUP: G45C16000000001)