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Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized [Kindle Edition]

James Ladyman , Don Ross , David Spurrett , John Collier
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Every Thing Must Go aruges that the only kind of metaphysics that can contribute to objective knowledge is one based specifically on contemporary science as it really is, and not on philosophers' a priori intuitions, common sense, or simplifications of science. In addition to showing how recent metaphysics has drifted away from connection with all other serious scholarly inquiry as a result of not heeding this restriction, they demonstrate how to build a metaphysics compatible with current fundamental phsyics ("ontic structural realism"), which, when combined with their metaphysics of the special sciences ("rainforet realism"), can be used to unify physics with the other sciences without reducing these sciences to physics intself. Taking science metaphysically seriously, Ladyman and Ross argue, means that metaphysicians must abandon the picture of the world as composed of self-subsistent individual objects, and the paradigm of causation as the collision of such objects.

Every Thing Must Go also assesses the role of information theory and complex systems theory in attempts to explain the relationship between the special sciences and physics, treading a middle road between the grand synthesis of thermodynamics and information, and eliminativism about information. The consequences of the author's metaphysical theory for central issues in the philosophy of science are explored, including the implications for the realism vs. empiricism debate, the role of causation in scientific explanations, the nature of causation and laws, the status of abstract and virtual objects, and the objective reality of natural kinds


Editorial Reviews

Review


"In this title, the authors make a case for a truly naturalistic metaphysics. In so doing, they aim to unify hypotheses and theories that are taken seriously by contemporary science....Every Thing Must Go argues that the only kind of metaphysics that can contribute to objective knowledge is one based on contemporary science as it really is in reality, and not on philosophers' a priori intuitions, common sense, or simplifications of science...I recommend it without hesitation."--Bradford McCall as reviewed in Minds & Machines


About the Author

James Ladyman is at the University of Bristol. Don Ross is at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3664 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (August 23, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001DWGDWI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,411 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Thing Must Go May 26, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Everything Must Go is bold attempt to replace our standard metaphysical picture of the world with a radically different view. The motivation for this change comes from taking science, and especially fundamental physics, seriously. The basic structure of the book is as follows. The authors begin by calling into question the methodology of current "armchair" metaphysics. A new naturalistic methodology is proposed according to which the goal of metaphysics is to unify the various sciences. Using this methodology, Ladyman et al proceed to argue for a version of ontic structural realism about fundamental physics. According to this view, our best physical theories tell us only about structure - not entities - because there are no entities. In other words, at the fundamental level, there are no things (hence the title). Finally, the authors attempt to explain how the successful deploying of objects and causation in the special sciences can be justified when neither is found in fundamental physics nor is reducible to it. The key to reconciling the special sciences with fundamental physics is an understanding of objects of the former in terms of Dennett's real patterns. Essentially, objects (and causation) in the special sciences are real patterns that track important features of the structure of reality at a non-fundamental level of resolution.

Given the broad scope of the book, many issues are not treated in the detail they deserve, but rest assured, there are plenty of references to follow if something piques your interest.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ontic Structural Realism March 8, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ladyman and Ross provide an account of ontic structural realism (OSR) with some new concepts and arguments that Ladyman and Franch have not included in their previous articles. OSR challenges the traditional ontology of "things" or "stuff" and adds freshness to the metaphysical debates. The book is an essential reading for those interested in the philosophy of science and philosophy of mathematics. OSR is still very controversial but it exposes some problems with traditional metaphysics.

Among the difficulties of OSR is its view that only the mathematical structure can be known and that it is all what exist, i.e., nothing exists in the real world other than the structure. Even particles like electrons or photons do not exist as real relata but are devices meant to attain knowledge of the structure. The idea that the relational structure has no relata (entities between which there can be relations) is counterintuitive, and has been ruthlessly criticized. So far the proponents of OSR could not clarify their contention that the mathematical structure is also physical. In spite of the inadequacy of arguments for OSR, the position remains interesting and bold.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it will change the way you look at the world August 27, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
[What follows is an extract from two essays published at Rationally Speaking dot org; check also a forthcoming episode of the Rationally Speaking podcast featuring an interview with James Ladyman.] I must admit that the title of the first chapter -- "In defense of scientism" -- did not dispose me well toward the book. I think the term scientism ought to be reserved for what it has traditionally indicated, an unwarranted over reliance on science (yes, there is such a thing), or the thoughtless application of science where it doesn't belong (ditto), and it pisses me off to no end when philosophers actually use it as a positive term (as, most egregiously, in Alex Rosenberg's so-called Atheist's Guide to Reality). However, I got past the initial annoyance, and started to appreciate the (complex) arguments made by Ladyman, Ross and their occasional co-writers. Indeed, by the end of the book it turns out that Every Thing Must Go is, among other things, a pretty good argument against the sort of scientism that worries me, and in particular against the nowadays very popular physical reductionism espoused by the likes of Rosenberg, Harris & co. ... The surprising upshot of all of this is that physicalist reductionism -- the idea that all the special sciences and their objects of study will eventually reduce to physics and its objects of study -- is out of the question. And it is out of the question because of a metaphysics (ontic structural realism) that is based on the best physics available! If you are not blown away by this you may not have caught the thing in its entirety and may want to go back and re-read this post (or, if your philosophical and physical chops are adequate, ETMG). Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars like most metaphysical discussions July 23, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anybody interested in the foundational importance of physics for doing metaphysics should read this book. My only complaint is that, like most metaphysical discussions, the presentation is a bit tedious at times. Nevertheless, Ladyman et.al. manage to make a strong case that all metaphysics must be anchored in fundamental physics if it is to have any probative value.
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