Formulating science in terms of possible and impossible tasks


Source: Edge


Edge conversation with Chiara Marletto

“When you think about physics, you usually describe things in terms of initial conditions and laws of motion; so what you say is, for example, where a comet goes given that it started in a certain place and time. In constructor theory, what you say is what transformations are possible, what are impossible, and why. The idea is that you can formulate the whole of fundamental physics this way; so, not only do you say where the comet goes, you say where it can go. This incorporates a lot more than what it is possible to incorporate now in fundamental physics.”

Where can the comet go, given what? What is the range of possibilities that we consider live options? We are not considering all LOGICAL possibilities! This is where work on natural language semantics becomes important: we rack our brains about how humans project possibilities from the facts they encounter and how language helps us keep track, categorize, and compare those possibilities. 

Connections: Modality for the 21st Century.

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