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It seems to me that metaphysics questions are allowed, but tagging them as such sparks protests.

This practice seems inconsistent to me. I will re-tag the questions with a metaphysics tag if there are no better proposals.

The questions I mean to tag are those

  • About anthropic principle, fine tuning, possible worlds and existence of things without an observer. This includes hypotheses about quantum immortality and alike

  • About general properties of time, determinism/indeterminism, existence of the present, past, future, causality loops and eternity of the universe

  • About self-reference in measurement theory, existence of universally-walid theories and subjective decoherence

  • About limits of applicability of scientific method.

UPDATE As there is certain confusion about what the definition, here is how metaphysics destinguished and related to physical sciences by Peter van Inwagen:

Another sort of aid in understanding what is meant by ‘metaphysics’ is provided by distinguishing metaphysics from the things it might be confused with. First, metaphysics must be distinguished from the most general and all-embracing of the physical sciences: cosmology and the physics of elementary particles. (...) These two fields of study have turned out to be closely connected and have, since the 1960s, produced results that are of the deepest significance for metaphysics. Let us give the name “physical cosmology” to those scientific investigations that intimately involve both cosmology and the physics of elementary particles. Here is an example of the metaphysical sig- nificance of physical cosmology. Physical cosmology seems to show that the phys- ical universe had a beginning in time (about fourteen thousand million years ago)—or at least that it does not have an infinite past throughout which it has been much the same as it is now. If this is correct, all metaphysical speculations that pre- suppose an infinite past during which the components of a universe much like the present universe have been eternally rearranging themselves—our second set of an- swers to our three metaphysical questions provides one important example of spec- ulations that make this presupposition—are incorrect. And this by itself is sufficient to show the relevance of physical cosmology to metaphysics. But if physical cosmology is of the deepest significance for metaphysics, it nevertheless does not and cannot answer all the questions metaphysics poses. For one thing, it cannot answer the question, Why does the World exist? (...) Physical cosmology, moreover, does not and cannot tell us whether the physical universe is all there is—whether there is more to the World than the physical universe. Scientists sometimes assert that the World is identical with the physical universe, as a famous astronomer, the late Carl Sagan, did in the opening words of his popular television series Cosmos, but the assertion is a metaphysical, not a scientific, assertion. It is certainly possible to argue that science will someday explain all observable phenomena and that one should therefore believe that the World is identical with the physical universe, since one should believe that nothing exists beyond those things science postulates in the course of giving its explanations. But this argument is—and any argument for the same conclusion will be—a metaphysical, not a scientific, argument.

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    $\begingroup$ Peter van Inwagen's metaphysics tag belongs in philosophy and not here. Even if there is a definition of metaphysics accepted by physicists, I doubt they agree upon the answers to any questions posed and for this reason shouldn't be posted here. $\endgroup$ – Larry Harson Aug 31 '12 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Larry Harson my personal feeling is that all metaphysics questions should be answered in Philosophy.SE. But given their current community it is highly unlikely they will welcome all this stuff. If all the metaphysics questions moved there from this site, Phil.SE will become looking like a mirror of Phys.SE: people will discuss cosmology, fine tuning, quantum mechanics interpretations, measurement, arrows of time, causalty, Boltzman brains and so on. That's why I suggested a separate Metaphysics.SE in Area51, but the proposal has been dismissed as a duplicate of Philosophy.SE. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 15:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Anixx please don't add the metaphysics tag to anything unless and until you get clear support from the community to do so. $\endgroup$ – David Z Aug 31 '12 at 17:12
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When I was younger I read a lot of modern metaphysics, including occult literature, from Castaneda to Seth to Emanuel to ... I forget now. Also physics of consciousness and the implicate and explicate order of Bohm.

The reason I do not support a metaphysics discussion on this board is that one of course can play with metaphysics, but one has to have very clear in one's head what is physics and what is metaphysics. Metaphysics borders science fiction, and would be science fiction if it were not that we, as conscious beings, are still inexplicable by our standard theories of physics: we are born, we live, we propagate, we die.

On a board like this, which is followed among others by confused teenagers and disoriented nerds from all disciplines to give a metaphysics tag brings these fuzzy questions on par with the logical, rational and provable physics statements. This should be avoided.

If people are interested so much in metaphysics per se, they should ask for a separate board.

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  • $\begingroup$ -1, anna. Occultism is not a part of metaphysics. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ But of course it is. It gives its own rules of how matter behaves. $\endgroup$ – anna v Aug 31 '12 at 12:53
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    $\begingroup$ occultism differs from phylosophy in its method. Occultism does not use neither phylosophical method, nor scientific method. As such it in not part of phylosophy and/or science. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ So I wonder who are those three people who upvoted this and think that philosophy is occultism. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ first of all if you read my answer I did not speak only of the occult. The Seth "theory" of the world includes cosmic-string like quantities he/she calls "consciousness units" from which all that is is created in a hierarchical order, an evolution of consciousness: a complete world view but not touching physics. The "etheric model of the world" gives extra dimensions and attributes all matter with levels of "energy" that can be manipulated and seen according to the psychics: spiritofmaat.com/archive/nov1/brennan.htm , from a former astrophysicist. Is that not metaphysics too? $\endgroup$ – anna v Aug 31 '12 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ This depends whether they use philosophical method. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 18:13
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I think other people are saying the same thing in more detail, but my position is that metaphysics questions are not appropriate on this site.

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  • $\begingroup$ In that case the all shold be removed or moved to Phylosophy.SE. Otherwise the policy is inconsistent $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Anixx I agree. However this will need to be done with the support of the community (via close votes and flags, not unilateral moderator migrations). $\endgroup$ – David Z Aug 31 '12 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ In that case I suggest to make a list of such questions and decide on case-by-case basis. But my point of view that some of metaphysics questions should be allowed just because their existence here is more productive than in Phil.SE. For example, this article homepages.fhv.at/tb/cms/?download=tbPHILSC.pdf is written by a philosopher and published in a philosophic journal. But I am sure that Phil.SE folks would be clueless in answering questions in this field. There are also borderline questions, namely those related to the limits of scientific method. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Anixx sure, that would be a good idea. I've posted a list of some of the questions that I think could be considered off topic in Physics Chat, but of course it's not necessarily comprehensive. $\endgroup$ – David Z Aug 31 '12 at 17:27
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I think the main problem is reaching a consensus upon what metaphysics is.

Most would agree that metaphysics is a branch of philosophy from the past that came before the development of science. It looked at those properties of the world that are immaterial such as being, love etc and tried to answer questions such as: Is there a purpose to the world? Does the world exist because I look at it?

On the other hand, there are modern books that give metaphysics a modern flavour such as: The Metaphysics of Quantum Theory by Henry Krips.

Perhaps a better idea would be to ask whether any philosophical questions on physics are allowed here, and if they are, then to propose the philosophy-of-physics tag.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh no, Metaphysics has nothing to to with love. LOL. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ @anixx never come across Arthur Schopenhauer's "Metaphysics of Love" ? $\endgroup$ – Physiks lover Aug 31 '12 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ I did not notice that you were speaking about an outdated definition. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 12:41
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I personally feel that the word "metaphysics" can be interpreted in many ways, which is probably causing this confusion in the first place. A lot of metaphysics would be off-topic here IMO, but quite a bit of it may not be. For example, I feel that certain questions about the anthropic principle would be fine here.

At any rate, if you are doing a mass retagging (mass= >10 posts), it may be better to ask first. In this case, its even more crucial, since metaphysics is dicey when it comes to discussing on-topicness.

It seems to me that metaphysics questions are allowed, but tagging them as such sparks protests.

Just because a question isn't closed doesn't mean it's allowed. I would say that we need to first sort out if it is on-topic, which doesn't seem to be done yet (Let's see what David turns up after looking through those questions).

I will re-tag the questions with a metaphysics tag if there are no better proposals.

Don't do that until we have reached consensus. Let's not start a tag war.

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  • $\begingroup$ My personal feeling is that all metaphysics questions should be answered in Philosophy.SE. But given their current community it is highly unlikely they will welcome all this stuff. If all the metaphysics questions moved there from this site, Phil.SE will become looking like a mirror of Phys.SE: people will discuss cosmology, fine tuning, quantum mechanics, measurement, arrows of time, casualty, Boltzman brains and so on. That's why I suggested a separate Metaphysics.SE in Area51, but the proposal has been dismissed as a duplicate of Philosophy.SE. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 15:11
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It is high time now that somebody with a clear voice of reason stops this horrible attack on fundamental physics Anixx has started by insisting on either tagging valid questions as metaphysics or deleting/closing/migrating them.

I think physics SE should not let it happen, that a single very obstinate user starts to mess up with (by the community long ago accepted and answered) fundamental physics questions or succeeds in making future questions about fundamental physics off topic just for philosophical reasons. Physics is NOT a subfield of philosophy, so what is on/off topic here on physics SE should not be determined by philospohers but by real serious phyicists ...!

As already explained in previous comments, by fundamental physics I mean theoretical physics (!) topics the Milner Prize is targeted at for example, which can be and are addressed by (non fringe) theoretical physicists at present (or in the very near future).

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  • $\begingroup$ Where do you see an "attack on fundamental physics"? Can you please clarify? $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ If the questions are accepted and answered, they should be properly tagged. By the way, you removed the tag from one of my questions physics.stackexchange.com/questions/29164/… as well. Did you mean to "protect" my own question from attack by myself? $\endgroup$ – Anixx Aug 31 '12 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ That question is just ridiculous, you ought to delete it. $\endgroup$ – user2963 Aug 31 '12 at 19:03
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I think a much more established concept is "philosophy of science" rather than "metaphysics". It has a whole swath of discourse within journaled philosophy, and should not be controversial.

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