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“What is a Process” (11/3/17)

January 24, 2018

William Penn

Abstract:  In order to understand how process realism can resolve the inconsistency between the liquid drop and shell models, one must first understand how process realism operates.  As an ontic primitive for the process realist, “process” cannot be given an explicit definition, just as it is impossible to explicitly define words like “entity” and “structure” within the context of their respective realisms.  The meaning of the concept of process, and the relations between this concept and concepts of structure, state, and event, must therefore be given only heuristically.  Despite this challenge, a suitable understanding of processes can be built from a combination of paradigm cases and applications of the concept to simple examples. In this [talk], I build a general heuristic for understanding the concept of process out of a discussion of motions and transitions. I then apply this heuristic to the Bohr model of the atom in order to clarify the roles that the concept of process plays in explanations and model building.

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