A Discussion of PW Anderson’s “More is Different”

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Credit physics.ubc.ca

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of discussing P.W. Anderson‘s famous 1972 article More is Different as part of  a PEL Not School study group on emergence with Not Schoolers Bill Burgess, Casey Fitzpatrick, Ernie Prabhakar, and Evan Gould.

Anderson argues that the sciences don’t form a reductive whole — that chemistry isn’t applied physics and psychology isn’t applied biology — taking early aim at the conceits of the uber-reductionist elementary particle physicists. Part of his argument is an articulation of how the principles of symmetry-breaking make this non-reductionism clear in the physical world. We discuss all these matters trying to sort out Anderson’s claims and what we think of the evidence for them.

You can read the article yourself here.

If you’re a Not School member (or as we like to say, PEL Citizen), you can access the audio of this discussion on the Free Stuff for Citizens page, along with the audio from several other Not School discussions.

If you’re not a member, please consider joining. For $5 a month you’ll get access to regular audio discussions (above and beyond our regular podcast episode). As one Not Schooler put it about a recent discussion with Mark about Chalmers’ The Conscious Mind, these can be “almost as good as a regular podcast.” Membership also gets you access to study groups and discussion forums, all sorts of other bonus content, and the opportunity to participate in Skype/Google Hangout audio or video discussions yourself if you’re interested (fame and/or notoriety await you). Read more about Not School and sign up.

Dylan

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