Foundations of Physics

, Volume 45, Issue 9, pp 1046–1062 | Cite as

Observability, Visualizability and the Question of Metaphysical Neutrality

  • Johanna WolffEmail author


Theories in fundamental physics are unlikely to be ontologically neutral, yet they may nonetheless fail to offer decisive empirical support for or against particular metaphysical positions. I illustrate this point by close examination of a particular objection raised by Wolfgang Pauli against Hermann Weyl. The exchange reveals that both parties to the dispute appeal to broader epistemological principles to defend their preferred metaphysical starting points. I suggest that this should make us hesitant to assume that in deriving metaphysical conclusions from physical theories we place our metaphysical theories on a purely empirical foundation. The metaphysics within a particular physical theory may well be the result of a priori assumptions in the background, not particular empirical findings.


Weyl Pauli Interpreting physics Continuum Field concept 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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