Observability, Visualizability and the Question of Metaphysical Neutrality

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Theories in fundamental physics are unlikely to be ontologically neutral, yet they may nonetheless fail to offer decisive empirical support for or against particular metaphysical positions. I illustrate this point by close examination of a particular objection raised by Wolfgang Pauli against Hermann Weyl. The exchange reveals that both parties to the dispute appeal to broader epistemological principles to defend their preferred metaphysical starting points. I suggest that this should make us hesitant to assume that in deriving metaphysical conclusions from physical theories we place our metaphysical theories on a purely empirical foundation. The metaphysics within a particular physical theory may well be the result of a priori assumptions in the background, not particular empirical findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-1062
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • Weyl
  • Pauli
  • Interpreting Physics
  • continuum
  • field concept


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