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TU 8: Metaphysics

[M. Forster, M. Gabriel, U.-G. Meißner]

Metaphysics is a core discipline of theoretical philosophy. Among other things, it deals with questions concerning the limits of our physical knowledge of the universe. Given the fact that physics is an empirical science open to increase and revision of knowledge, at any time there are questions beyond its scope. Yet, this does not mean that metaphysics is an idle activity interested in questions that cannot be answered empirically. Many meaningful scientific questions once were metaphysical and changed their status as new technological means of empirical testing became available. There is a recent debate in theoretical philosophy about the epistemic standing of metaphysics with respect to science and vice versa. How exactly can scientists spell out their ontology, i.e., the views about the composition of physical reality that are inherent in their models? Models contain idealizations and formal tools which do not engage in the business of referring to physical reality as it is independent of the model. Without metaphysical interpretation, it is impossible to draw the limits of scientific knowledge on the basis of this knowledge alone. The TU “Metaphysics” discusses epistemological issues that arise within contemporary philosophy and science from both ends in order to investigate the ontological architecture and limits of scientific knowledge. It connects philosophers with scientists from the other disciplines active in CASCADE.

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