Pauli Exclusion and Spatio-Temporal Coincidence

I have heard it said by people who fancy themselves physicists that Pauli exclusion is the explanation for why there cannot be two objects in the same place at the same time. This is claimed in criticism of my discussion of the latter principle in my book Basic Structures of Reality. It is completely wrong and totally misunderstands the principle in question. That principle has to do with questions of individuation and metaphysical necessity not the laws of physics (see David Wiggins’ classic discussion in “On Being in the Same Place at the Same Time” in Philosophical Review 1968). Pauli exclusion has to do with quantum states not quantum particulars, and anyway does not apply to many particles (only to fermions). Those who essay this criticism are clearly ignorant of the metaphysical issues at stake.


16 responses to “Pauli Exclusion and Spatio-Temporal Coincidence”

  1. I entirely agree. Two places at the same time?—See John Isner’s tennis serve to his opponent'[s racguet.

  2. Yeah, I flubbed it. I think I was confusing some form of “quantum superposition” with some form of “non-local entanglement”.—You see how I hedge my bets. Anyway, it was a good stab at a joke.

  3. jeffrey kessen says:

    Just watched your talk with Michael Shermer . Excellent. —notwithstanding all of his water drinking. ( I would recommend rather a light Zinfandell). I wonder if you could say something more definite about the scope and depth of the exercise of human intelligence. When do we think? When do we reason?—We think, we reason , when we do not “know”. When we do not ” know” what? When we do not know what to believe or what to do. These are the only two “generic” kinds of informational appetite,( doubtless in conjunction with various goal-inducing attitudes, feelings, values and emotions), that motivate exercise of the mechanisms of intelligence. But what are those mechanisms? Well, there are mechanisms of practical intelligence— of decision-making or choice— and there are mechanisms of epistemic intelligence —of belief or hyp0thesis fixation. On the latter side, there is deduction, induction and abduction. On the former side, there are various forms of utility-maximization and god-knows-how-many kinds of “fast-and-frugal hueristics”. Any thoughts?

    • You’d like me to comment on epistemology. Practical reason and theoretical reason. Justification. Knowledge versus opinion. Skepticism. Etc. I do talk about these things in Philosophical Provocations. Your reference to mechanisms suggests psychology, however. Shermer thirsted and lo I gave him water, but he turned to the water of the flesh (I have been reading Tolstoy on the gospels).

  4. jeffrey kessen says:

    I’ve taken aboard your, “Defining Philosophy”, blog post and found it useful (less useful, in retrospect, were my own “Comments”). Surely, though, as a former student of cognitive psychology yourself, youv’e kept abreast of some of the proprietary issues. Where, for instance, do you currently stand on the issue of “modularity”—such as Dan Sperber or Peter Carruthers conceive it? (Let’s not talk about Fodor). Sperber and Carruthers are philosophers. But they have much to say about matters psychological. Carruthers I especially like, though I wouldn;t dream of contacting him (I suspect he would be much less forgiving of eccentricity than you). Just a bit of trivia: I know you are a fan of Jonathan Miller. I remember when Miller’s, ” The Body in Question”, BBC series first appeared on American television. Watched every episode—head tilted slightly to the right, mouth a little ajar, high as fucking hell. Loved it.

    • I accept modularity, particularly as proposed by Chomsky and Fodor. Carruthers wrote a terrible review (in both senses) of my book Inborn Knowledge. Big fan and longtime friend of JM.

  5. Jeffrey Kessen says:

    I really must stop asking you questions about subjects about which you’ve already written books—but then I would have no more questions to ask. I cannot afford to buy ALL your books. Humble is my income if not my ego (and since I live in Orlando FL., the chance of finding your stuff in local libraries is, well, limited). Now then, back to my ego. Evolution of the human hand? My own opinion is that the human hand evolved the better to pick one’s nose and jerk oneself off more gratifyingly. But I suspect you have larger fish to fry—linking, perhaps, the evolution of our digital dexterity with the evolution of forebrain structures that subserve the execution of nested action-schemas (anticipatory planning). Michael Arbib had something to say about this. The foremost selection pressure, however, as I conceive it, on the evolution of intelligence more generally in early hominids/hominems, has rather to do with the production and understanding of proto-linguistic speech-acts. (Jesus, I hate it when I try to write like an academic). A good part of my half-novel deals with this. Frankly, though, I’d much rather drink a Budweiser than think more about speech-acts. Do you have any opinion about Kent Bach’s and Steven Harnish’s, “Linguistic Communication and Speech Acts”?

  6. jeffrey kessen says:

    Since when does “grasping” the world have anything to do with the exercise of human intelligence? Your cat should give you a good scolding. Our “Dear Leader”, Trump, has a history of trying to, shall we say, “grasp” the world (or at least those parts of it that are female). Yet he’s a moron. Sorry for the intrusion of politics into our lofty discussions, (even where humorous), but a lot of us are being driven nuts over here.

    • But the hand did enable us to grasp tools, which led to increases of intelligence and hence civilization. This grasping also led to misuse of the hand for grabbing purposes etc. Trump is, in the words of the Beatles, “the biggest fool to ever hit the big time”.

  7. jeffrey kessen says:

    What I should have said was this: “Since when does trying to ‘grasp’ the world have anything to do with the exercise of human intelligence? Our ‘Dear Leader’, Trump, has been trying lo these many years to ‘grasp’ at least half the world (the female half of it). Yet he’s a moron”. That makes the joke a bit clearer. Often I flub my jokes—oftener in The Age of Trump. Otherwise completely agree with your thesis about about the cognitive and practical import of the evolution of digital dexterity.. I dig these exchanges. Let me know when you don’t. Loved that Trump was laughed at the United Nations Assembly today.

    • With his little grasping hands and underdeveloped cortex. Does he really believe they were laughing with him not at him? He just seemed like a rambling deluded fool yesterday. No one will ever want to wear orange again. But this is unworthy of our barbs.

  8. jeffrey kessen says:

    I will wear orange, but only in mourning for The Republic.

  9. jeffrey kessen says:

    Orange is the new black. Get it?

  10. jeffrey kessen says:

    Orange? You haven’t been to a gay bar lately. Seriously, though, —so many people (gay and straight)— I once thought rational are now ardent Trump supporters. With this I have yet to come to terms. I understand the need in this country for a kind of economic populism, but how a transparent charlatan like Trump could come to power—well, enough said.

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