|Source: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 52, 86-102|
|Paper - Abstract|
- Two people may claim both to be naturalists, but have divergent conceptions of basic elements of the natural world which lead them to mean different things when they talk about laws of nature, or states, or the role of mathematics in physics. These disagreements do not much affect the ordinary practice of science which is about small subsystems of the universe, described or explained against a background, idealized to be fixed. But these issues become crucial when we consider including the whole universe within our system, for then there is no fixed background to reference observables to.
- I argue here that the key issue responsible for divergent versions of naturalism and divergent approaches to cosmology is the conception of time.
- One version, which I call temporal naturalism, holds that time, in the sense of the succession of present moments, is real, and that laws of nature evolve in that time.
- This is contrasted with timeless naturalism, which holds that laws are immutable and the present moment and its passage are illusions.
- I argue that temporal naturalism is empirically more adequate than the alternatives, because it offers testable explanations for puzzles its rivals cannot address, and is likely a better basis for solving major puzzles that presently face cosmology and physics.
- This essay also addresses the problem of qualia and experience within naturalism and argues that only temporal naturalism can make a place for qualia as intrinsic qualities of matter.
For the full text, see Smolin - Temporal naturalism.
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