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Below I will post several questions about whether a certain philosophical topic should be allowed in Physics.SE. Please vote up to keep the questions belonging to a topic and vote down to close or migrate the questions belonging to the topic from Physics.SE.

This is a vote for general acceptability of certain topics. The questions can be still sorted out on case by case basis.

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    $\begingroup$ this is the whole point of having moderators here because they decide based upon their knowledge of the sort of questions allowed here. The rest of the community have a say by voting the quality of a question, flagging a question, putting a comment under the question concerned. $\endgroup$ – John McVirgooo Aug 31 '12 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnMcVirgo but we (moderators) base our knowledge of what is on topic and off topic on the community's opinion, as expressed by close votes, flags, and meta posts like this one. (At least we're supposed to, but we're only human, we don't necessarily get it right every time :-P) $\endgroup$ – David Z Aug 31 '12 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ @David Zaslavsky It seems the community wants the metaphysics questions but doies not want them properly tagged. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 1 '12 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ Yep, you should give up your campain; the community does not support it. Everything was well and peaceful before you started to mix things up causing strife some days ago ... Please please stop it. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Sep 1 '12 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Anixx just because you think certain questions should have a certain tag doesn't mean they actually should. That being said, the results of this voting suggest that perhaps the community does want some metaphysics questions, but it's still close. Let's leave it a while and see what other opinions come in. $\endgroup$ – David Z Sep 1 '12 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ I have added a +1. The OP's question is not garbage. If you are going to down-vote at least have the courtesy to say why? $\endgroup$ – Antillar Maximus Sep 2 '12 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ @AntillarMaximus You do not need to worry about downvotes on meta. They do not mean that something is garbage, they just indicate disagreement with what the OP says or wants to do etc. And they do not take away any reputation. So you should only upvote the question if you agree with what it says or suggests ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Sep 2 '12 at 8:27
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    $\begingroup$ @anixx but the community does want them properly tagged, it's just that metaphysics is generally defined by philosophers and not physicsts and therefore has no place here. $\endgroup$ – Physiks lover Sep 2 '12 at 10:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Physiks lover scientific method itself is defined by philosophers. If the tag has no place here, then mathephysics questions should be removed altogether as well. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 2 '12 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Anixx yes, metaphysics questions as defined by philosophers have no place here. $\endgroup$ – Physiks lover Sep 2 '12 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ Why do they offer a PhD? Doctor of philosophy and not Doctor of human integral solver. This attitude of rigidness embodies everything that is wrong with how physics is done or taught these days. Regarding -tve votes for questions as a matter of principle I am against it. $\endgroup$ – Antillar Maximus Sep 2 '12 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ Just downvoted all except the wavefunction of observer thing which I didn't vote on. $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Jul 17 '13 at 14:05
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Questions, related to the ultimate nature of time, presentism, eternalism, endurantism, perdurantism, causation, infinity of time in past and future directions.

Examples:

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  • $\begingroup$ I generally agree with you that these should be closed, since it is very easy to see these are pure metaphysics, and nonsense in positivism. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 10 '12 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ @RonMaimon That is the only comment I disagree with you in this thread ;-), they are valid cosmologicl questions but could be better formulated in certain cases. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Sep 10 '12 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton this does not make them non-metaphysical. Nature of time is the core subject of metaphysics. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 10 '12 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Anixx This is just ridiculous, Stephen Hawking workt on some of the issues the questions are about and more generally such and other questions are investigated by modern fundamental physics today. Are you really going to say Stephen Hawkings work is just philosophy ore metaphysics? I know there are trolls out in the world wide web who exactly say this and even worse things about fundamental physics and physicists but I thought you are not among them. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Sep 10 '12 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ And why cant you just see that the community does not agree about the artificial non-existant metaphysics issue you try to force upon us? You cant come here just because you have taken a (probably interesting) philosophy course by a philosophy professor and patronize and teach physicists what is physics and what not. The same goes for your issue with in your opinion too mathematical questions. Mathematics is the language physics is formulated in. So please please please stop these nerve-racking campaigns, the comunnity does not agree with you, and let people go back to physics and find peace. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Sep 10 '12 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton why do you think that physicists cannot be interested in philosophy? If Hawking wrote on something, that does not make the subject necessarily non-philosophical. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 10 '12 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: I don't feel strongly, and I always like inclusion, but it's really tough to get an endless stream of "how much energy does it take for the world to keep pushing time forward like it does?" and variations. It's disheartening. I prefer to just answer these questions, but I gave up saying "please keep logical positivism in mind." The issues of time that people think about are generally deeper than these examples that Anixx brings up--- these are the most annoying questions of this type. But I don't care about it so much, really, I prefer less rules to more. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 12 '12 at 6:57
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Questions about choice between mathematically equivalent interpretations of quantum mechanics

Examples:

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    $\begingroup$ Anixx, while you are generally right that these are metaphysics questions, the goal of this site is only to say "this turns into a metaphysics question when you look at it this way, and then we consider the question solved, since the logical positivist aspects are solved." Or else "this question is meaningless, if you formulate it right." But the question itself is not bad, because the person asking it obviously doesn't know why this is pure metaphysics. I mean, asking "is the magnitude of the work done on something subjective or objective?" Has an answer, even though it depends on frame. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 10 '12 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Ron Maimon in that case why not to tag the question properly? $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 10 '12 at 19:31
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    $\begingroup$ Because this requires the tagger to make a judgement call that better belongs in an answer. Labelling something as metaphysics on a physics site, whether you think of it this way or not, is something of a slur on the question. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 12 '12 at 7:00
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Questions, related to Anthropic principle, Final anthropic principle, quantum immortality, Boltzman brains, nececity of an observer for things to exist.

Examples:

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    $\begingroup$ Here I think you are wrong, because there is something mysterious here which isn't philosophy. The first question is trying to reconcile diffeomorphism invariance with quantum measurements, and in this case, it is phrasing things in terms of "anthropic principle", but it could be talking about any question. The question on Boltzmann brains is not as interesting, but it requires clarifying how we assign probabilities to paths of observers, and this is still sometimes confusing, even though it turns out to be philosophy in the end. You can't politically clobber these questions as bad. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 10 '12 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Ron Maimon Ron, I do not claim they are bad. I even do not insist them to be moved to philosophy. I just want them to be properly tagged for better classification. Also if in the future a separate Metaphysics.SE opened, the questions could be moved there. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 10 '12 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ You may not see "metaphysics" as a slur tag, but to me, it automatically sounds close to "immature non-scientific thinking", "unanswerable drivel", and "brainless rant", more than "honorable deep question about the nature of reality". That's just how philosophy is percieved in physics. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 12 '12 at 7:02
  • $\begingroup$ please let's not confuse hypothetical scenarios with philosophical questions, a gedanken experiment is not a philosophical rant, it is an hypothetical question that raises question about concrete physics $\endgroup$ – lurscher Sep 21 '12 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ also if Boltzmann was thinking about these subjects while trying to make sense of thermodynamics, why won't be allowed as a community to think about those things as well? $\endgroup$ – lurscher Sep 21 '12 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ @lurscher you are wrong, it was not Boltzman who invented this thing. It was only named after him. This is a philosophical "though experiment", not physical. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 22 '12 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Anixx: I don't know anyone before Boltzmann who thought about Boltzmann brains--- do you have an earlier reference? I really think he invented this. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 25 '12 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Ron Maimon, Boltzman only proposed an idea that the known universe arose as a random fluctuation. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 25 '12 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Anixx: But he also wondered why the fluctuation didn't just produce a brain in an otherwise random universe, this is the source of the Boltzmann brain. I really think it is original to him, and it reveals that the entropy law is really hard-wired in the universe, not just a fluctuation accident. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 26 '12 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Ron Maimon well my point of view is that low entroy state does not necessarily imply complicated systems like living organisms. Random assembly of a boeing is much less probable than accidential creation of a less ordered low entropy state, such as temperature gradient that can have even less entropy than boeing. And as the less-ordered low entropy state created, it can create circumstances for life to evolve - boeing as a result of evolution is much more probable than random boeing, even if this need a much stronger initial fluctuation. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 26 '12 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Anixx:This is only true because the evolution process consumes entropy as it operates. If you start with a thermal state, you can't drive evolution, and it is more likely to assemble the entire planet Earth with all life on it as is from a thermal state, then to produce an earlier state with evolution, just because the earlier state has less entropy. I don't think you appreciate just how gigantic the entropy improbability is. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 26 '12 at 20:12
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Questions, related to self-reference in measurement theory, existence of universally-valid theories, subjective decoherence and limits of scientific method.

Example:

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    $\begingroup$ Why are you ragging on your own question? "What is the wavefunction of the observer" is an important philosophical confusion. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 10 '12 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Ron Maimon you are wrong that I am raging on anything. I do not want this question to be moved to Phil.SE because the public there is hardly capable to answer it and even understand it. But as you can see, the article linked from the selected answer is written by a professional philosopher working at philosophical faculty. That's why I want it properly tagged. $\endgroup$ – Anixx Sep 10 '12 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ You won't get much respect from most physicists for the work done in philosophy departments at any level. These guys have been standing on the sidelines of physics making crackpot half-understanding comments for decades, wanting to get in on the action, and physicists lost patience already starting with Bohr. Tegmark might be an exception, but philosophy is a whole field with out-and-out lousy and fraudulent academic standards. A part of the practitioners make a living by ripping off misunderstood obscure old science work and passing it off as their own (see "hole argument"). $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 12 '12 at 7:13

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