I may have posted this before (from Aug 2022) but was prompted to read and share it today since Kevin Mitchell re-tweeted it.
Like the original Twitterstorm the prompt was a heated dialogue involving Sabine Hossenfelder, this time with Philip Goff (all publicity is good publicity if you’re selling a book I guess) – but a lot of the usual “scientists don’t need / don’t understand philosophers” garbage. Lots of people posting the Dennett meme – no metaphysics-free science, just scientists ignorant of their metaphysical presumptions.
Like Kevin I avoided interjecting until he re-posted this.
“Getting to the bottom of reductionism
– is it all just physics in the end?”
To which several wags responded “Yes”.
But I responded:
I like it. My short version.
Nothing is “just” anything (other than itself).
Emergent complex stuff depends on – supervenes on, emerges from – simpler foundation layers, but is not “reduced to” or “determined by” (only) the laws, states and histories of those simpler layers.
He uses “historicity” half a dozen times. I tend to use ergodicity, a more formal “system-states” version of the same idea. In emergent layers, history matters, not just current states of lower layers.
Anyway, really just posted to ensure I have a searchable link to it for future writing. Has lots of references to others I’ve used.
The “just” qualifier – disguises some debate about what fundamental physics is anyway – dynamic information patterns rather than matter and energy anyone? Also disguises individual < class < class-of-class ambiguities. (Scientists conflating concepts with empirical realities. Theorising vs ontological commitment when the rubber hits the road.)
And, coincidentally during the same ongoing on-line debate, Kevin Mitchell was lined-up to speak with Robert Sapolsky, infamous for his new book “Determined: Life Without Free Will”. (I’ve tried to avoid the latter, but it might be interesting to see how the dialogue went?)
(Interesting that Sapolsky opens with admitting he takes “an extreme position”. Trolling? – not convinced so far that his story on physical brain manifestations of our developmental life history – and cultural influence on those – actually says anything about our free-will? All obviously influence and constrain how we work without determining it. Continuing. Listening to all of it – the recurring point of Kevin’s in response to Sapolski – examples of the negative cases don’t negate the positive case. It’s not a binary all freedom-and-conscious-will or none. Personally – after Dennett – there is probably less than 0.001% free will in world activities – the kind of free-will worth having is no surprise? Supervisory free-won’t. All the slippery slope of moral relativism stuff is irrelevant, a separate topic. Hypocrisy too – is an evolved “skill”.)