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Physics and Common Sense

Maxwell, N; (1966) Physics and Common Sense. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science , 16 (64) 295 - 311. 10.1093/bjps/XVI.64.295. Green open access

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In this paper I set out to solve the problem of how the world as we experience it, full of colours and other sensory qualities, and our inner experiences, can be reconciled with physics. I discuss and reject the views of J. J. C. Smart and Rom Harré. I argue that physics is concerned only to describe a selected aspect of all that there is – the causal aspect which determines how events evolve. Colours and other sensory qualities, lacking causal efficacy, are ignored by physics and cannot be predicted by physical theory. Even though physics is silent about sensory qualities, they nevertheless exist objectively in the world – in one sense of “objective” at least.

Type: Article
Title: Physics and Common Sense
Location: UK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/bjps/XVI.64.295
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/XVI.64.295
Language: English
Additional information: This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Maxwell, N (1966) Physics and Common Sense. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science , 16 (64) 295 - 311 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/XVI.64.295
Keywords: physics, experience, physicalism, sensory qualities, mind/body problem, theory of everything, limits of physics
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1348840
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