real patterns all the way down

After hearing and reading about Ladyman and Ross for some time now, with opinions ranging from volatile dislike to euphoric endorsement, I’ve finally taken the time to read Every Thing Must Go and come to my own conclusions. I’ll use this post to sketch my reading of the arguments of ETMG and offer some thoughts and questions at the end. As usual I’m open to feedback and am always curious to hear of alternative readings.

In many ways ETMG is a book I should be naturally predisposed to read. With my own reading of Hume’s thought as compatible with realism (or hyper-realism as I would call it) I should be interested to see how they incorporate Humean verificationism, along with Peircean verificationism (another philosopher I greatly admire), into their arguments for realism. Ladyman and Ross also draw heavily on current work and research in physics, a discipline I initially pursued and still take great interest in; and they use their readings of physics as a mathematics of real patterns to legitimize work in dynamic systems theory (a systems theory properly understood [more on this below], which I draw on heavily in my Philosophy at the Edge of Chaos book. Finally, by their own admission Ladyman and Ross (though I shouldn’t forget the et. al. of Spurrett and Collier) see the arguments of their book as an alternative to the neo-scholasticism of contemporary analytic metaphysics. I agree wholeheartedly with this objective, though I may have an inner neo-scholastic in me for I find some of Ted Sider’s arguments helpful and think Peter Unger’s essay “The Problem of the Many” is a classic, albeit likely a classic in neo-scholastic analytic metaphysics by Ladyman and Ross’s lights. Despite this, I’m generally in agreement with their criticisms of contemporary analytic metaphysics and thus, with this and all the other points mentioned above I had some very good reasons to read this book.

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