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

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Clarendon Press, 1994 - Science - 328 pages
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Storrs McCall presents an original philosophical theory of the nature of the universe based on a striking new model of its space-time structure. He shows that this theory can illuminate a wide variety of hitherto unresolved philosophical problems. These include: the direction and flow of time;the nature of scientific laws; the interpretation of quantum mechanics; the definition of probability; counterfactual semantics; and the notions of identity, essential properties, deliberation, decision, and free will. A particular instance of the explanatory powers of the proposed space-time modelis its account of quantum non-locality in the EPR and GHZ experiments. Professor McCall argues that the fact that the model explains and throws light on such a broad range of problems constitutes strong evidence that the universe is as the model portrays it.
 

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Contents

THE MODEL
1
THE DIRECTION AND FLOW OF TIME
20
i The direction of time
21
the minddependence theory
25
iii Objective time flow
29
iv McTaggarts alleged proof of the inconsistency of the Aseries
35
v Truthconditions for temporal discourse
40
vi Cambridge change and real change
44
v Semantics for type A conditionals
180
vi Type B conditionals
184
vii Summary on conditionals
190
INDIVIDUALS AND IDENTITY
192
i Actualism and modal realism
194
ii Individuals in the branched model
199
iii Transtemporal identity
206
iv Transworld identity
218

CAUSATION AND LAWS OF NATURE
48
ii Laws of nature
55
iii Cosmology
60
iv Scientific knowledge
64
Armstrong Dretske and Tooley Lewis and van Fraassen
66
iv Branched laws
82
AN INTERPRETATION OF QUANTUM MECHANICS
85
i Quantum probabilities
86
ii Quantum nonlocality and the EPR experiment
94
iii The measurement problem
114
iv Comparison with the manyworlds interpretation
130
v Indeterminism
136
PROBABILITY
140
i Rival theories of probability
141
ii The branched definition of probability
147
iii A probability value for every event
155
CONDITIONALS
163
ii Inferential degree of belief and possible world analyses of counterfactuals
165
iii Comparative similarity
171
iv Two kinds of conditionals
177
v Puzzle cases of identity
223
ESSENTIAL PROPERTIES
226
ii The necessity of origin
231
iii Natural kinds
241
DECISION AND FREE WILL
250
i Chance deliberation and decision
253
ii Deliberationreasons and explanationreasons
260
iii The causal theory of action
266
iv Responsibility for decisions
271
v Indeterministic mechanisms which select their own future states
273
vi Summingup
278
CONCLUSION
280
The Topology of Branched Spaces
289
Branched FourDimensional SpaceTime
295
A Branched Picture of Mermins EPR Experiment
298
Probabilities of Conditionals Defined as Conditional Probabilities
303
References
307
Index
323
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About the author (1994)

Storrs McCall, Associate Professor of Philosophy, McGill University, Montreal.

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