Arthur Fine
News About Ongoing Projects and Presentations




Einstein
. Under contract with Routledge and in collaboration with Thomas Ryckman (Stanford) Einstein is a book length study of Einstein's philosophy of science. The premise of our book is that meaningful treatment of “Einstein’s philosophy” should comprehend three principal areas of investigation: (1) philosophical concerns that animated and have been influenced by his revolutionary theories of relativity, and his contributions to and reservations over the quantum theory;  (2) Einstein’s philosophical evolution and his relations to significant philosophers (e.g., Kant, Schopenhauer and Spinoza) and to philosophical movements, in particular neo-Kantianism and logical empiricism; (3) whether, and in what sense, there is a lasting contribution to philosophy of science that is identifiably Einstein’s.
A Frontiers in Science lecture at Ohio University (September, 2014) What was Einstein Thinking? applies these themes to Einstein's concerns over the quantum theory and his ideas for going beyond it.

Interpreting the Quantum. A motley of presentations and case studies on current options for reinterpreting elementary quantum theory. One presentation, So What’s The Problem With Quantum Theory? (February 2012, University of California at Irvine), examines how realist versions of the theory represent probability via random variables, and the essential role that plays in current no-go theorems. Another (Explanation and Scientific Progress, Asher Achinstein Lecture, Johns Hopkins, November, 2011) identified forms of progress in science with shifting models for what "requires" explanation in science and uses that perspective to indicate a better framework for understanding quantum entanglement. A third study (in collaboration with Max Schlosshauer, University of Portland) looked at a theorem said to "shake the foundations" (Nature News, 11 November 2011) by undermining a view of the quantum state as a state of knowledge. In a paper for Physical Review Letters (Vol. 108, 260404, 29 June, 2012) we develop implications of the theorem, which turns out to have minimal impact on interpretive options.  A follow-up in Physical Review Letters (Vol.112,  070407, 29 February, 2014) proves a general no-go theorem concerning how independent quantum systems compose. Writing with J.D. Malley, the basis for the classical no-go theorems is simplified in Physics Letters A, 378:Issue 35 (11 July, 2014) 2611-13. These studies focus on uses of probability in the quantum theory and how classically intuitive (but misleading) ways of modeling or interpreting them can conflict with the geometry of the state space. 

Science and Philosophical Isms continues the work of NOA as a commonsense attitude toward science that highlights the shortcomings of realism, as well as other global philosophical positions. Instrumentalism, Revisited (January 2012, University of Toronto) contrasts the tepid and narrow instrumentalism of recent schoolbook philosophy with the robust and expansive instrumentalism of John Dewey, pioneered on the Continent by the Italian mathematician-philosopher Federigo Enriques. Poincaré and Structural Realism (presented at the centenary celebration at the Henri-Poincaré Institute in Paris, November 2012) locates a confusion about Poincaré embedded in contemporary versions of structural realism. The argument points to problems with structuralism that distort sensible approaches to science. A presentation on Constructivism (Stanford, 2011) and a study of relativism and foundationalism continue this cycle on the "isms", which features a pragmatic approach to contemporary thought.