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The Why of ThingsCausality in Science, Medicine, and Life$
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Peter Rabins

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164726

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164726.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

Empirical

Empirical

The Physical Sciences

Chapter:
(p.80) 6 Empirical
Source:
The Why of Things
Author(s):

Peter V. Rabins

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231164726.003.0006

This chapter discusses three concepts, developed during the twentieth century, that have significantly influenced the current conceptualization of causality: relativity theory, quantum mechanics, and the incompleteness theorem. It also examines how a series of discoveries in the physical science of geology led to the development of plate tectonic theory and how it became widely accepted as the primary causal explanation for geologic phenomena such as continental drift. In addition, it covers three key concepts: first, there are limits to the knowledge one can gain no matter what techniques are used; second, more than one approach or vantage point is sometimes necessary to identify causal influences with as much accuracy as possible; and third, in many complex physical systems, causality results from the interaction of multiple elements rather than from the interaction of two individual events. Finally, it considers Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and the wave/particle duality of light.

Keywords:   causality, relativity theory, quantum mechanics, incompleteness theorem, geology, plate tectonic theory, continental drift, knowledge, Werner Heisenberg, uncertainty principle

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