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shminux comments on From Philosophy to Math to Engineering - Less Wrong

16 Post author: lukeprog 04 November 2013 03:43PM

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Comment author: lukeprog 05 November 2013 04:28:40AM 0 points [-]

Yes! Less Wrong, please give vallinder extra karma, for identifying the more ambiguous cartoon dude. :)

Comment author: shminux 05 November 2013 07:09:46AM *  -2 points [-]

From his wikipedia page:

has made significant contributions to philosophy of science, the theory of measurement, the foundations of quantum mechanics

Sounds like either self-advertisement or a hero-worship, depending on who wrote it.

Comment author: pragmatist 07 November 2013 01:43:42PM *  2 points [-]

I'm confused. Why does it sound like that to you? Saying someone has made "significant contributions" doesn't sound excessively adulatory, especially if you're talking about someone who is widely regarded as having made significant contributions (as evidenced by, say, his National Medal of Science).

Comment author: shminux 07 November 2013 05:41:54PM 1 point [-]

First, I never heard of Patrick Suppes in any of my physics studies. Or at all, until he was mentioned here. So this puts a cap on the significance of his contributions to the "foundations of physics". Second, the medal is "National Medal of Science for Behavioral and Social Science", not anything physics-related (unless you consider "subjective probability" physics). Now, my attitude toward "philosophy of science" roughly matches that of Feynman, so I am not going to touch that one. What's left is "the theory of measurement", which am not in a position to evaluate, except to say that, from the list of relevant publications it seems like he worked in the decision-theoretic area, rather than any physical measurement. Now, maybe he did make "significant contributions" to decision theory, I cannot tell, except that this forum does not mention him much while discussing decision-theoretic issues.

Not to put him down, he did a lot of interesting work and is likely in the top 0.1% of physics PhDs by various metrics, just not as "foundational" as the wiki article presents him.

Comment author: vallinder 05 November 2013 11:58:59AM 1 point [-]

I'm not familiar with his writings on the foundations of quantum mechanics, but in addition to his work on causality, the three volumes on measurement he co-authored have also been hugely influential. His intellectual autobiography (pdf) might be worth a look.