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UAH-MCMP Workshop "Multiple Realizability, Causation and Reductive Explanations in Science" (6-7 March 2018)

The Workshop is organized by the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP), LMU Munich, and the Department of Philosophy, Alberto Hurtado University, Chile (UAH).

This workshop aims to promote an international forum to share knowledge, issues, and challenges related to multiple realizability, causation and reductive explanations in science. Some of the questions that we will address are: Is multiple realizability compatible with reduction? Should multiple realizability be understood as synonym of universality? Do we have reasons to believe in top-down causation in science? Is supervenience a causal relation? Does thermodynamics reduces to statistical mechanics? Are there examples of emergence in science? Does Quantum Statistical Mechanics provide reductive explanations? Are Causal explanations in the high-level Sciences Complete?

Speakers

Organizers

Registration

If you want to attend this workshop, please send notice to patricia.palacios@lrz.uni-muenchen.de.

Program

Day 1 (Tuesday, 6 March 2018)

TimeEvent
10:15 - 11:15 Olimpia Lombardi and Sebastian Fortin: Multiple Realizability: Comparing Classical Irreversibility and Decoherence
11:15 - 11:35 Coffee Break
11:35 - 12:35 Stephan Hartmann: Reductive Explanations in Quantum Statistical Mechanics
12:35 - 14:15 Lunch Break
14:15 - 15:15 Manuel Herrera Aros: Physical Causation, Conserved Quantities and General Relativity
15:15 - 15:35 Coffee Break
15:35 - 16:35 Samuel Fletcher: The Topology of Intertheoretic Reduction
19:30 Dinner

Day 1 (Wednesday, 7 March 2018)

TimeEvent
10:15 - 11:15 Patricia Palacios: On the Universality of Hawking Radiation
11:15 - 11:35 Coffee Break
11:35 - 12:35 Francisco Pereira: Multiple Realizabilty, Local Reduction and Psychological Eliminitavism
12:35 - 14:15 Lunch Break
14:15 - 15:15 Sergio Daniel Barberis: Direct Evidence of Multiple Realization of Memory in Mollusks
15:15 - 15:35 Coffee Break
15:35 - 16:35 Michael Strevens: The Whole Story: Explanatory Autonomy and Convergent Evolution

Abstracts

Sergio Daniel Barberis: Direct Evidence of Multiple Realization of Memory in Mollusks

In this paper, I revisit the neurobiological research on memory in mollusks and argue that there is direct evidence that the same abstract computation is multiply realized in the vertical lobe of octopus and cuttlefish. The vertical lobe (VL) of the central brain plays a fundamental role in learning and memory both in octopus and cuttlefish. The network in the VL has been characterized as a ‘fan-out fan-in’ neural network. The tens of millions of amacrine interneurons in the intermediate layer are innervated by the ‘fan-out’ input from the superior frontal lobe, which integrate sensory information. The dendrites of the amacrine interneurons then ‘fan-in’ to innervate about 65000 efferent large neurons. In both the octopus and the cuttlefish the synaptic input to the amacrine interneurons is glutamatergic, but only in the octopus is this synaptic connection endowed with a robust activity-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP). Furthermore, the fan-in synaptic connections to the efferent large neurons is cholinergic in both species, but only in the cuttlefish these synapses show a robust LTP.top

Samuel Fletcher: The Topology of Intertheoretic Reduction

I expound a new account of intertheoretic reduction as reductive explanation, showing how it incorporates a version of the Nagelian account as a special case. In contrast to accounts that develop the latter, the one I develop does not give up on providing a precise account of "analogy" or "approximation", for which the mathematics of topology is central. I also explain how this account rules on a bevy of common distinctions: reduction vs. emergence (sometimes compatible), synchronic vs. diachronic reduction (makes less of a difference than it seems), ontological vs. epistemic reduction (depends on one's attitude towards a theory), and the autonomy of the special sciences vs. reductionism (mostly compatible).top

Olimpia Lombardi and Sebastian Fortin: Multiple Realizability: Comparing Classical Irreversibility and Decoherence

Originally, multiple realizability was proposed in the philosophy of mind as a non-reductionist position. Nevertheless, it was immediately extrapolated to the relation between thermodynamics and mechanics: a single thermodynamic state is realized by many different mechanical states. This many-to-one relationship has been viewed as supporting the idea of the emergence of thermodynamic irreversibility from the time behavior of the underlying mechanical states.
In this talk we will compare the case of the emergence of classical irreversibility with the case of the irreversibility involved in quantum decoherence. In particular, we will show that the quantum case cannot be easily understood in terms of a many-to-one relationship: the reduced state that evolves irreversibly is not a mere disjunction of underlying quantum states. On this basis, we will give a unified view of the emergence of irreversibility, applicable both to the classical and to the quantum case. According to this unified view, the relation between the macro-emergent level and the micro-basal level is a generalized coarse-graining, mathematically defined as a projection. It is this generalized-coarse graining, and not multiple realizability, the essential feature of this kind of emergence: multiple realizability is only a particular case of generalized-coarse graining.top

Stephan Hartmann: Reductive Explanations in Quantum Statistical Mechanics

This talk explores to what extent Quantum Statistical Mechanics provides reductive explanations. I will introduce the theoretical framework and then focus on the master equation approach which is widely used, for example, m in quantum optics and quantum information theory.top

Manuel Herrera Aros: Physical Causation, Conserved Quantities and General Relativity

The Conserved Quantity Theory (CQT) of Phil Dowe proposes that the essence of causal relations is in the possession and/or transmission of conserved quantities governed by conservation laws. This account of physical causality presents serious problems when we try to apply it in general relativistic (GR) contexts. In this talk we try to contribute with some precisions and/or clarifications in the CQT that allow us an adequate application of this theory in GR. Furthermore, this analysis we will permit us to obtain a better understanding of the real reaches of this theory.top

Patricia Palacios (with Karim Thébault and Sean Gryb): On the Universality of Hawking Radiation

Unruh and Schützhold (2005) suggested that the Hawking effect in black holes should be understood as a universal phenomenon based upon generic insensitivity of the characteristic thermal flux to modified dispersion relations. From that, they infer that the trans-Planckian problem is irrelevant to the Hawking effect in a way that validates the many different approaches to derive the Hawking radiation. Nonetheless, some questions remain open. For instance: Is the alleged universality of Hawking radiation of the same kind as the universality that characterizes phase transitions in condensed matter systems? Are the mathematical methods used to derive the universality of the Hawking radiation analogous to the methods used to infer the universality of critical phenomena? In this contribution, we address these questions by comparing the methods used by Unruh and Schützhold with the Wilsonian approach to renormalization.top

Francisco Pereira: Multiple Realizabilty, Local Reduction and Psychological Eliminitavism

In this talk I will briefly introduce the relevance of multiple realizability for contemporary debates about the nature of mental states/events. First, I will attempt to show that despite appearances we can reconcile the multiple realizability thesis with type identity theories that rely on local reductions. Second, I will make some comments regarding the status of psychological kinds if we accept that mental state types should be identified with species-specific neurophysiological realizers as suggested by Kim (1992).top

Michael Strevens: The Whole Story: Explanatory Autonomy and Convergent Evolution

Causal explanations in the high-level sciences typically black-box the low-level details of the causal mechanisms that they invoke to account for their explananda: economists black-box psychological processes; psychologists black-box neural processes; and so on. Are these black-boxing explanatory models complete explanations of the phenomena in question, or are they just sketches of or templates for the whole explanatory story? This paper poses a focused version of the question in the context of convergent evolution, the existence of which appears to show that underlying mechanisms are completely irrelevant to the explanation of high-level biological features—in which case a black-boxing model would be a complete explanation of such features rather than a mere sketch.top

Venue

Sala Balcones, DINAMARCA 399, Valparaíso, Chile