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Taking the ‘Meta’ out of Physics: A response to Graham Smetham’s ‘The Matter of Mindnature’

Robert M. Ellis


In this response to Graham Smetham’s criticisms, I defend the approach of metaphysical agnosticism on philosophical grounds. Pyrrhonian (agnostic) sceptical approaches are distinguished from Academic ones and shown not to be contradictory provided one does not begin with unnecessary metaphysical assumptions. The burden of proof needs to be put on those who make metaphysical claims rather than those who stick to experience as a point of reference, and falsification involves a provisional, not an absolute, process of elimination of theories that do not fit the evidence. Smetham’s appeals to certain results from quantum physics as exceptional are shown to be unacceptable on the grounds that no scientific observation can confirm metaphysical claims that lie beyond their scope. A wider psychological, moral and linguistic context is given for the argument that we should avoid the adoption of a metaphysical framework of understanding.

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ISSN: 2153-8212