Tim Maudlin

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Tim Maudlin
Tim Maudlin 2018 (cropped).png
Maudlin in 2018
Tim William Eric Maudlin

(1958-04-23) April 23, 1958 (age 65)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma mater
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of science, philosophy of physics
Notable ideas

Tim William Eric Maudlin (born April 23, 1958) is an American philosopher of science who has done influential work on the metaphysical foundations of physics and logic.


Education and career

Maudlin graduated from Sidwell Friends School, Washington, D.C. Later he studied physics and philosophy at Yale University, and history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh, where he received his Ph.D. in 1986. He taught for more than two decades at Rutgers University before joining the Department of Philosophy at New York University in 2010.

Maudlin has also been a visiting professor at Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University. He is a member of the "Foundational Questions Institute" of the Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship. [1] [2] In 2015 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He is the founder of the John Bell Institute for the Foundations of Physics in Sveta Nedilja, Hvar, Croatia.

Since the academic year 2020–21 Maudlin is Visiting Professor at the University of Italian Switzerland. [3]

Tim Maudlin is married to Vishnya Maudlin; they have two children.

Philosophical work

In his first book, Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity (1994), Maudlin explains Bell's Theorem and the tension between violations of Bell's inequality and relativity.

In Truth and Paradox: Solving the Riddles (2004), Maudlin presents a new resolution to the "Liar Paradox" (for example, the sentence "This sentence is false") and other semantic paradoxes that requires a modification of classical logic.

In The Metaphysics Within Physics (2007) the central idea is that "metaphysics, in so far as it is concerned with the natural world, can do no better than to reflect on physics". [4]

Metaphysics is ontology. Ontology is the most generic study of what exists. Evidence for what exists, at least in the physical world, is provided solely by empirical research. Hence the proper object of most metaphysics is the careful analysis of our best scientific theories (and especially of fundamental physical theories) with the goal of determining what they imply about the constitution of the physical world. [5]

Maudlin delves into fundamental topics of cosmology, arguing that laws of nature ought to be taken as primitive, not reduced to something else, and that the passage and direction of time are fundamental. On this theory the arrow of time has a single direction and time is asymmetric, contradicting the quantum-mechanical idea of time's symmetry and other theories that deny the existence of time, as championed by physicist Julian Barbour. [6]

I believe that it is a fundamental, irreducible fact about the spatio-temporal structure of the world that time passes. [...] The passage of time is an intrinsic asymmetry in the temporal structure of the world, an asymmetry that has no spatial counterpart.[...] Still, going from Mars to Earth is not the same as going from Earth to Mars. The difference, if you will, is how these sequences of states are oriented with respect to the passage of time. [...] The belief that time passes, in this sense, has no bearing on the question of the 'reality' of the past or of the future. I believe that the past is real: there are facts about what happened in the past that are independent of the present state of the world and independent of all knowledge or beliefs about the past. I similarly believe that there is (i.e. will be) a single unique future. I know what it would be to believe that the past is unreal (i.e. nothing ever happened, everything was just created ex nihilo) and to believe that the future is unreal (i.e. all will end, I will not exist tomorrow, I have no future). I do not believe these things, and would act very differently if I did. Insofar as belief in the reality of the past and the future constitutes a belief in a 'block universe', I believe in a block universe. But I also believe that time passes, and see no contradiction or tension between these views. [7]

Maudlin defends his view over rival proposals by David Lewis and Bas Van Fraassen, among others. Lewis analyzed natural laws as those generalizations that figure in all theoretical systematizations of empirical truths that best combine strength and simplicity. Maudlin objects that this analysis rides roughshod over the intuition that some such generalizations could fail to be laws in worlds that we should follow scientists in deeming physically possible. Van Fraassen argued that laws of nature are of no philosophical significance, and may be eliminated in favor of models in a satisfactory analysis of science. Maudlin counters that this deprives one of the resources to say how cutting down its class of models can enhance a theory's explanatory power, a phenomenon readily accounted for when one takes a theory's model class as well as its explanatory power to derive from its constituent laws (Richard Healey, University of Arizona). [8]

In Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time (2012) Maudlin explains the philosophical issues of relativity to a lay audience, [9] though some of his arguments, like his divorcing of the resolution of the twin paradox from the presence of acceleration for the travelling twin, have been criticised in the literature. [10] In New Foundations for Physical Geometry (2014) he proposes a new mathematics of physical space called the theory of linear structures. Maudlin's subject is specifically empirical spacetime, which he believes a kind of linearization describes better than abstract topological open sets. [11] [12]



Papers and book chapters

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Many-worlds interpretation</span> Interpretation of quantum mechanics that denies the collapse of the wavefunction

The many-worlds interpretation (MWI) is a philosophical position about how the mathematics used in quantum mechanics relates to physical reality. It asserts that the universal wavefunction is objectively real, and that there is no wave function collapse. This implies that all possible outcomes of quantum measurements are physically realized in some "world" or universe. In contrast to some other interpretations, the evolution of reality as a whole in MWI is rigidly deterministic and local. Many-worlds is also called the relative state formulation or the Everett interpretation, after physicist Hugh Everett, who first proposed it in 1957. Bryce DeWitt popularized the formulation and named it many-worlds in the 1970s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time travel</span> Hypothetical travel into the past or future

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The de Broglie–Bohm theory, also known as the pilot wave theory, Bohmian mechanics, Bohm's interpretation, and the causal interpretation, is an interpretation of quantum mechanics. It postulates that in addition to the wavefunction, an actual configuration of particles exists, even when unobserved. The evolution over time of the configuration of all particles is defined by a guiding equation. The evolution of the wave function over time is given by the Schrödinger equation. The theory is named after Louis de Broglie (1892–1987) and David Bohm (1917–1992).

An interpretation of quantum mechanics is an attempt to explain how the mathematical theory of quantum mechanics might correspond to experienced reality. Although quantum mechanics has held up to rigorous and extremely precise tests in an extraordinarily broad range of experiments, there exist a number of contending schools of thought over their interpretation. These views on interpretation differ on such fundamental questions as whether quantum mechanics is deterministic or stochastic, local or non-local, which elements of quantum mechanics can be considered real, and what the nature of measurement is, among other matters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eternalism (philosophy of time)</span> Philosophical view that there is no correct way of perceiving the passage of time

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  1. Dept. NYU Philosophy Access 2012/11/21
  2. Guggenheim Foundation Archived 2013-01-04 at the Wayback Machine Access 2012/11/28
  3. "Professors". usi.ch - Master in Philosophy. 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  4. Notre Dame University Reviews Access 2012/11/21
  5. Maudlin, Tim, The Metaphysics Within Physics. Oxford University Press. Oxford, 2007 ISBN   978-0-19-921821-9, p. 104
  6. YouTube: A Mock Debate on Time with Julian Barbour and Tim Maudlin Access 2012/11/22
  7. The Metaphysics Within Physics, pp. 107-109
  8. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews Access 2012/11/17
  9. Princeton University Press review Access 2012/11/21
  10. J. Gamboa; F. Mendez; M.B. Paranjape; Benoit Sirois (2019). "The "twin paradox": the role of acceleration". Canadian Journal of Physics. 97 (10): 1049–1063. arXiv: 1807.02148 . doi:10.1139/cjp-2018-0788.
  11. Maudlin, Tim. New Foundations for Physical Geometry (PDF). Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  12. Burgess, John P. "Book Review: New Foundations for Physical Geometry" (PDF). Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  13. Text of the article in finney.org [ permanent dead link ] Access 2012/11/29