The Causal Closure of Physics in Real World Contexts
Ellis (George F.R.)
Source: arXiv:2006.00972v4 [physics.hist-ph], Submitted on 1 Jun 2020 (v1), last revised 8 Jun 2020 (this version, v4)
Paper - Abstract

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Author's Abstract

  1. The causal closure of physics is usually discussed in a context-free way. Here I discuss it in the context of engineering systems and biology, where strong emergence takes place due to a combination of upwards emergence and downwards causation [Ellis 2020].
  2. Firstly, I show that causal closure is strictly limited in terms of spatial interactions because these are cases that are of necessity strongly interacting with the environment. Effective Spatial Closure holds ceteris paribus, and can be violated by Black Swan Events.
  3. Secondly, I show that causal closure in the hierarchy of emergence is a strictly interlevel affair, and in the cases of engineering and biology encompasses all levels from the social level to the particle physics level.
  4. However Effective Causal Closure can usefully be defined for a restricted set of levels, and one can experimentally determine Effective Theories that hold at each level.
  5. This does not however imply those effective theories are causally complete by themselves. In particular, the particle physics level is not causally complete by itself in the contexts of solid state physics (because of interlevel wave-particle duality), digital computers (where algorithms determine outcomes), or biology (because of time dependent constraints). Furthermore Inextricably Intertwined Levels occur in all these contexts.


For the full text, see Ellis - The Causal Closure of Physics in Real World Contexts.

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