A Model of the Universe: Space-Time, Probability, and Decision

A Model of the Universe: Space-Time, Probability, and Decision

A Model of the Universe: Space-Time, Probability, and Decision

A Model of the Universe: Space-Time, Probability, and Decision

Synopsis

Storrs McCall presents an original philosophical theory of the nature of the universe based on a striking new model of its space-time structure and argues that the fact that the model throws light on such a large number of problems constitutes strong evidence that the universe is as the model portrays it. An ambitious, controversial, and ingenious idea for a completely new metaphysical foundation for philosophy and physics, this book discusses a broad range of topics within the framework of the new theory, and will be of special interest to physicists for its original new interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Excerpt

Thales said that the first principle of everything was water. Democritus maintained that there was nothing but atoms and the void. Each in his own way tried to account for the apparent diversity of things by putting forward a very general hypothesis about the nature of the world.

This book attempts to do the same. the problems addressed are less straightforward than those of Thales and Democritus: the direction and flow of time, the nature of scientific laws, the interpretation of quantum mechanics, the definition of probability, counterfactual semantics, transworld identity, essential properties, deliberation, decision, and free will. But the principle is the same. a very general hypothesis about the world is advanced, with reference to which the problems are explained and clarified. the work attempts to bring together a wide variety of philosophical issues.

I have been thinking about the book's subject-matter, beginning with the problem of temporal passage, since the early 1960s, and the students and colleagues to whom I am indebted for ideas and criticism are too numerous to mention. Nevertheless I will try to mention them. I began the actual job of writing in Australia during a six-month sabbatical in 1988, and without the impetus given by my delightful and generous Australian hosts the book would still be lying in limbo. I want to thank them for helping me put it on paper.

John Bigelow and Brian Ellis of La Trobe played a major role in getting me moving in the right direction, as did David Armstrong of Sydney, to whom I am indebted for many kindnesses and who is the only person in the world who has read the entire work. I had excellent discussions with Henry Krips, Graham Nerlich, Peter Forrest, Chris Mortensen, and Huw Price. Jack Smart kept me on the right path in time and space, except when walking through the Australian bush, and Allen Hazen saved me from philosophical error on more than one occasion.

Meanwhile, in North America, Nuel Belnap has been my intellectual sheet-anchor for many years. About a third of the ideas in the book originated in conversations in his office or living-room, even though we frequently disagree about things. Also in Pittsburgh . . .

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