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Re: [ontolog-forum] [ontology-summit] Estimating number of all known fac

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Chris Menzel <chris.menzel@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 26 May 2012 12:28:55 +0200
Message-id: <CAO_JD6MzZM+R7hLGS1rO4cmE-JPKLhFDz7ZJPMtHMgJShCAcVQ@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Fri, May 25, 2012 at 4:35 PM, Michael Brunnbauer <brunni@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Hello Chris,

On Fri, May 25, 2012 at 11:20:21AM +0200, Chris Menzel wrote:
> Sure, sure, but all that follows is that a realist stance can be
> problematic in contexts where relativistic or quantum effects are relevant
> ??? i.e., contexts involving involving things that are very small (like
> subatomic small), very large (like cosmic scale large), or very fast (like
> approaching light speed fast). In most contexts where ontologies are
> usefully employed, relativistic and quantum effects are irrelevant and a
> realistic stance ??? i.e., the assumption that the portion of reality we are
> interested in exists determinately and independently of any perceivers ??? is
> entirely unproblematic.

Yes - but there are traps. If a macroscopic system is dependent on quantum effects - like in the thought experiment of Schrödinger - making statements about the state of affairs *before* the measurement is problematic. You can open the box, find a dead cat and by examination conclude that it must have been dead for an hour. The statement that the cat was dead 30 minutes before you opened the box is problematic. The same maybe also holds for more common situations like a stroke or heart attack where the exact timing could depend on quantum effects.

Sorry, I have no idea what you are trying to suggest. I believe in the history of medicine it's never been the case that there was anything indeterminate about whether or not the victim of a fatal stroke or heart attack was alive in the 30 minutes preceding the event.
If have talked with someone that has a bit more background on this and he said that in fact *most* physicists would agree that the fact of life or death of the cat in Schrödingers experiment is established by opening the box. That the cat can itself be regarded as observer or replaced with a human shows that you cannot get the subjectivity easily out of the theory.

Correct me if I am wrong - im am not deep into those things.

I'm out of my depth in this area as well, but I did say that realism is only problematic (if it is at all) in contexts where quantum and relativistic effects are relevant. Schrödinger's cat is such an example, despite the fact that it appears to have consequences in the macroscopic world. Remove that part of the story and you've just got a fact in which you find a kitty, dead or (hopefully) alive when we open the box and we can with complete confidence assume that it was in that state before we opened it. You can play skeptic, of course, and I suppose we have to acknowledge that we can't know with absolute Cartesian certainty that the situation in the box was clear, definite and determinate before we opened it, but the Newtonian hypothesis that it was works perfectly well for describing it and will remain so until there is more evidence of quantum effects in the macroscopic world beyond thought experiments.


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