Although I might wear out my welcome, (which I suspect to some extent I may already have ) I’ve decided to try a different approach to see if it helps to move forward the conversation I’ve brought up in one of my last posts, and other related posts, and give a better and hopefully clearer picture of what I’m getting at.
First I think there are two different questions that need to be recognized that are being addressed by a theory in physics in regards to theoretical concepts.
- From empirical verification, which concepts as frameworks are best for formulating generalized equations that provide the most accurate methods for calculating measurements to describe how matter moves through space?
- From objective observation and shared common experience, which concepts best explain what hidden reality is like?
In the first question, from the mathematical equations deductive inferences, generally agreed upon as providing the highest degree of certainty, are generated, and from empirical verification inductive inferences (as used in the narrow sense in physics), generally agreed upon as providing the next highest degree of certainty, are generated. In the second question, from observable evidence abductive inferences, generally agreed upon as at the least not having as high a degree of certainty as the first two types of inferences, are generated.
Both realists and antirealists generally acknowledge the first question. However, in general the antirealists disregard the second question as either useless, or unanswerable. The first question, when empirically verified, is usually without any significant dispute. However on the realist view, the second question, depending on the strength of the evidence, generally leaves much more room for debate.
Next I want to bring up the subject of empirical equivalence. The question I have is, doesn’t empirical equivalence demonstrate that it’s possible to have more than one conceptual framework, e.g., Lorentzian vs Minkowskian SRT, that yield the same outcome? If so, in regards to the first question, wouldn’t that suggest that concepts as frameworks, being compatible in a mathematical sense, only serve a utilitarian role and play no role epistemically unlike, in regards to the second question, concepts as explanations that it seems are intended to play an entirely epistemic role?
If that’s the case, from a realist perspective, wouldn’t it suggest that being a useful concept doesn’t necessarily correspond with being a true concept, i.e., corresponding to what reality is really like. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be unjustified to claim that the concept in a theory that answers the first question necessarily has to be the concept in that theory for the second question? And if that’s the case, wouldn’t it suggest that both questions are independent of each other, and in any particular theory one isn’t necessarily committed to use the same concept for both the first and the second question?
If so, empirical equivalence seems to suggest that there is no inherent conflict between the utilitarian use of different conceptual frameworks in empirically equivalent theories, and that thence there is no direct relationship between the first question and the second question, which would seem to suggest that the answers to both questions are not necessarily one and the same.
If that’s the case it seems the option is available in a theory to use one concept for the first question while holding to a different concept for the second question. However, though in the first question there can be more than one concept that turns out to be useful, in the second question only one concept can be the true concept for what reality is like, unless the claim is held that more than one reality exists simultaneously, which I would argue seems extremely unlikely.
If what I’m arguing for is warranted it opens up a whole new dimension in the discussion of the problem of the “theory of everything.” However, I will wait before delving into that discussion to see what kind of response I get from what I’ve posted so far.