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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
Lawrence Cahoone
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Nancy Cartwright
Gregg Caruso
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
Arthur Fine
John Martin Fischer
Frederic Fitch
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Bas van Fraassen
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Heraclitus
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Walter Kaufmann
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Thomas Kuhn
Andrea Lavazza
Christoph Lehner
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Jules Lequyer
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Otto Neurath
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
C.F. von Weizsäcker
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

David Albert
Michael Arbib
Walter Baade
Bernard Baars
Jeffrey Bada
Leslie Ballentine
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Mara Beller
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Jean Bricmont
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Melvin Calvin
Donald Campbell
Sadi Carnot
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Gregory Chaitin
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Rudolf Clausius
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
Jerry Coyne
John Cramer
Francis Crick
E. P. Culverwell
Antonio Damasio
Olivier Darrigol
Charles Darwin
Richard Dawkins
Terrence Deacon
Lüder Deecke
Richard Dedekind
Louis de Broglie
Stanislas Dehaene
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Gerald Edelman
Paul Ehrenfest
Manfred Eigen
Albert Einstein
George F. R. Ellis
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
David Foster
Joseph Fourier
Philipp Frank
Steven Frautschi
Edward Fredkin
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A. O. Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Dirk ter Haar
Jacques Hadamard
Mark Hadley
Patrick Haggard
J. B. S. Haldane
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Ralph Hartley
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Donald Hebb
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Basil Hiley
Art Hobson
Jesper Hoffmeyer
Don Howard
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
E. T. Jaynes
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
William R. Klemm
Christof Koch
Simon Kochen
Hans Kornhuber
Stephen Kosslyn
Daniel Koshland
Ladislav Kovàč
Leopold Kronecker
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Joseph LeDoux
Gilbert Lewis
Benjamin Libet
David Lindley
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
Owen Maroney
Humberto Maturana
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
John McCarthy
Warren McCulloch
N. David Mermin
George Miller
Stanley Miller
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Alexander Oparin
Abraham Pais
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Henry Quastler
Adolphe Quételet
Lord Rayleigh
Jürgen Renn
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Tilman Sauer
Jürgen Schmidhuber
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Sebastian Seung
Thomas Sebeok
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Abner Shimony
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Lee Smolin
Ray Solomonoff
Roger Sperry
John Stachel
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
Max Tegmark
Libb Thims
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Giulio Tononi
Peter Tse
Francisco Varela
Vlatko Vedral
Mikhail Volkenstein
Heinz von Foerster
Richard von Mises
John von Neumann
Jakob von Uexküll
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
Herman Weyl
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
Stephen Wolfram
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek
Konrad Zuse
Fritz Zwicky

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Jean Bricmont

Jean Bricmont is a philosopher of science and theoretical physicist noted for his books on quantum mechanics and his attacks on postmodernist ideas about science, which are a consequence of the decades of confusion and puzzlement about quantum mechanics.

Bricmont has written two books on quantum mechanics: Making Sense of Quantum Mechanics in 2016 and Quantum Sense and Nonsense in 2017.

Both books strongly defend the Louis deBroglie and David Bohm causal and deterministic version of quantum mechanics today known as Bohmian Mechanics.

Making Sense
In his first book, Bricmont critically examines the quantum "nonsense" he sees coming mostly from the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. He includes dozens of important quotations from physicists through the years, from the founders of quantum mechanics to physicists today proposing "alternative theories" to standard quantum mechanics.

He has two extensive chapters on the leading "mysteries" of quantum mechanics,

The first includes puzzles arising from the quantum-mechanical wave function, - the principle of superposition, which gives rise to the two-slit-experiment, the measurement problem, Schrödinger's Cat, and Max Born's "statistical interpretation" of the wave function.

Bricmont says this chapter builds on David Albert's 1992 book Quantum Mechanics.

Bricmont's second "mystery" chapter is on nonlocality and entanglement, problems that were originally seen by Albert Einstein as early as 1905, but which he developed clearly between 1927 and 1935.

The famous Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paper of 1935 and Erwin Schrödinger's reaction to it the same year were critically analyzed by John Bell starting in the 1960's.

Bricmont's work is largely based on the works of deBroglie, Bohm, and Bell. His extensive chapter on their work calls it a "hidden variables" theory.

In this chapter, we will outline a theory of “hidden variables” (although they are not really hidden) that accounts for all the phenomena predicted by ordinary (non- relativistic) quantum mechanics, is not contradicted by the no hidden variables theorems, explains why measurements do not in general measure pre-existing properties of a system (in other words, it explains why measuring devices have an “active role”), and incorporates and to some extent explains the nonlocality implied by Bell’s theorem. It would seem that, given all the claims to the effect that such a theory is impossible, its mere existence should be a subject of considerable interest, but this is not the case. Although interest in the de Broglie-Bohm theory is probably increasing, it is still widely ignored or misrepresented, even by experts on foundations of quantum mechanics.

The theory was introduced at approximately the same time as the Copenhagen interpretation, in 1927, by Louis de Broglie, but it was rejected at the time by a large majority of physicists, and ignored even by critics of the Copenhagen school, like Einstein and Schrodinger. The theory was even abandoned by its founder, only to be rediscovered and completed by David Bohm in 1952, then further developed and advertised by John Bell.

He concludes that this theory naturally accounts for the following:

1. The measurement formalism, including the collapse rule.
2. The no hidden variables theorems, which are explained by the contextuality of measurements and the active role of the measuring devices.
3. The apparent randomness of quantum mechanics, which follows, in a fully deterministic theory, from rather natural assumptions about initial conditions.
4. The unavoidable nonlocality of any theory reproducing the quantum prediction.

Bricmont discusses determinism and free will in a chapter called a "philosophical" intermezzo. He writes:

...the problem is: what is the alternative to determinism within physics? Nothing has ever been proposed except pure randomness Or, in other words, events with no cause. But that will not give us a picture of the world in which free will exists either. Our feeling of free will is not that there is some intrinsically random process at work in our minds, but that conscious choices are made. And that is simply something that no known physical theory accounts for. Our feeling of free will implies that there is a causal agent in the world, the “I”, that is simply “above” all physical laws. It suggests a dualistic view of the world, which itself meets great difficulties. One solution is, as mentioned above, to declare that free will is an illusion. But if that is the case, it is a “necessary illusion” in the sense that we cannot live without, in some sense, believing in it, unlike, say, believing in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It is not clear what could constitute a solution to that problem, but one should avoid using this problem to create within physics a prejudice in favor of indeterminism, since neither determinism nor indeterminism in physics can “save” free will.

This of course is the centuries old standard argument against free will.

Sense and Nonsense
Quantum Sense and Nonsense, Bricmont makes all the same basic arguments as Making Sense, but with a minimum of the equations that frighten off popular readers.

Bricmont, following Bell, says that Bohmian Mechanics is a "complete deterministic theory" that can "replace" standard quantum mechanics. Bohmian mechanics describes the instantaneous action-at-a-distance behind "nonlocality."

Bricmont asks whether the Universe is "indeterministic?"

One way to “prove” indeterminism is to claim that quantum mechanics is both intrinsically indeterministic and complete, but its completeness is precisely what has to be demonstrated.

But now, we can say more: we have a theory that does complete quantum mechanics and that is deterministic, so that the claim that quantum mechanics proves indeterminism is surely false. However, determinism in the de Broglie— Bohm theory is a special sort and has two properties that make it somewhat different from what one might expect from a deterministic theory in the setting of classical physics:

(1) First of all, the de Broglie-Bohm theory is nonlocal. This means that, even if one wants to determine the future of what happens only in a given region of space, denoted A, one has in principle to specify the physical state of the entire Universe, since events in regions that are arbitrarily far from region A might influence instantaneously what happens in the latter...

(2) Secondly, the de Broglie-Bohm theory contains in its very formulation an element of radical uncertainty that one might not expect in a deterministic theory. Indeed, the best analogy is to think of the initial conditions of quantum systems as being like the ones of a large number of coins that are being tossed.

Bricmont says about Einstein's famous quote, "no, God does not play dice or at least there is no argument based on quantum mechanics that indicates that he does. The idea of determinism can be maintained, thanks to the de Broglie—Bohm theory."

Fashionable Nonsense
In 1996, physicist Alan Sokal published a tongue-in-cheek article in the postmodern cultural affairs journal Social Text. Once published, Sokal revealed that the article was a hoax, loaded with jargon that exposed the editors inability to separate science from nonsense. Actually, the main body of article was filled with accurate, but seriously obscure, quotes from the founders of quantum mechanics on their "Copenhagen Interpretation." Sokal's quotes from postmodern authors were equally obscure, and equally accurate.

The following year, Bricmont collaborated with Sokal on the book Fashionable Nonsense.

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