This book defends a radical new theory of contingency as a physical phenomenon. Drawing on the many-worlds approach to quantum theory and cutting-edge metaphysics and philosophy of science, it argues that quantum theories are best understood as telling us about the space of genuine possibilities, rather than as telling us solely about actuality. When quantum physics is taken seriously in the way first proposed by Hugh Everett III, it provides the resources for a new
systematic metaphysical framework encompassing possibility, necessity, actuality, chance, counterfactuals, and a host of related modal notions.
Rationalist metaphysicians argue that the metaphysics of modality is strictly prior to any scientific investigation; metaphysics establishes which worlds are possible, and physics merely checks which of these worlds is actual. Naturalistic metaphysicians respond that science may discover new possibilities and new impossibilities. This book's quantum theory of contingency takes naturalistic metaphysics one step further, allowing that science may discover what it is to be possible. As
electromagnetism revealed the nature of light, as acoustics revealed the nature of sound, as statistical mechanics revealed the nature of heat, so quantum physics reveals the nature of contingency.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 406 g
Dimensions: 214 x 141 x 19 mm
This is a thoroughly stimulating and clearly written work that argues for a genuinely big idea ... I am keen to make clear that I learned a great deal from this book, and that I found much in it to agree with and more to admire. The Nature of Contingency deserves to be read by researchers in the many fields that it covers and will - I expect - be widely appreciated for the imaginative and impressive work that it is. * John Divers, Mind *
this is not only a rich and sophisticated work, but broad in its reach as well. And whether you agree with the Everett interpretation or not, or with Lewisian metaphysics, or not, Wilson's book actualises the possibility of a nuanced and erudite to-and-fro exchange between metaphysics and physics, to the benefit of both. * Steven French, Metascience *
he Nature of Contingency is an important book. It elegantly precisifies the tantalising analogy between Lewisian modal realism and Everettian quantum mechanics and is an impressive showcase for naturalistic metaphysics. * Samuel Kimpton-Nye, Philosophical Quarterly *