The question of the dimensionality of space has informed the development of physics since the beginning of the twentieth century in the quest for a unified picture of quantum processes and gravitation. Scientists have worked within various approaches to explain why the universe appears to have a certain number of spatial dimensions. The question of why space has three dimensions has a genuinely philosophical nature that can be shaped as a problem of justifying a contingent necessity of the world. In contrast to explanations of three-dimensionality based on anthropic arguments, we support the search for a theory that provides a justification for the dimensionality of space based on a combination of deductive and inductive reasoning applied to science. In doing so, we argue that Kant correctly approached the question in “Thoughts on the true estimation of living forces” (1747) by connecting space dimensionality and the inverse square law. In expounding the strategy of Kant’s argument, we describe the main features of a general Kantian explanation of the dimensionality of space and discuss them with respect to current accounts of explanation in the philosophy of science, such as inference to the best explanation and the deductive-nomological model.

Explanation and the dimensionality of space : Kant’s argument revisited / S. De Bianchi, J.D. Wells. - In: SYNTHESE. - ISSN 0039-7857. - 192:1(2015), pp. 287-303. [10.1007/s11229-014-0568-1]

Explanation and the dimensionality of space : Kant’s argument revisited

S. De Bianchi
Primo
;
2015

Abstract

The question of the dimensionality of space has informed the development of physics since the beginning of the twentieth century in the quest for a unified picture of quantum processes and gravitation. Scientists have worked within various approaches to explain why the universe appears to have a certain number of spatial dimensions. The question of why space has three dimensions has a genuinely philosophical nature that can be shaped as a problem of justifying a contingent necessity of the world. In contrast to explanations of three-dimensionality based on anthropic arguments, we support the search for a theory that provides a justification for the dimensionality of space based on a combination of deductive and inductive reasoning applied to science. In doing so, we argue that Kant correctly approached the question in “Thoughts on the true estimation of living forces” (1747) by connecting space dimensionality and the inverse square law. In expounding the strategy of Kant’s argument, we describe the main features of a general Kantian explanation of the dimensionality of space and discuss them with respect to current accounts of explanation in the philosophy of science, such as inference to the best explanation and the deductive-nomological model.
Anthropic argument; Causality; Dimensionality of space; Explanation; Inverse square law; Kant
Settore M-FIL/02 - Logica e Filosofia della Scienza
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/838595
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