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Observability, Visualizability and the Question of Metaphysical Neutrality

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-1062
Issue number9
PublishedSep 2015

King's Authors


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.

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