Philosophy

Department of History and Philosophy of Science
PhD in Physics, Oxford University
Summary:

My original training was in theoretical physics: I took a Physics PhD (also at Oxford) before my interests took me towards more conceptual and foundational questions in physics, and from there into philosophy.

My research interests are mostly in the philosophy of physics. I've been particularly active in trying to develop and defend the Everett interpretation of quantum theory (often called the "Many-Worlds Interpretation"); my book on the Everett interpretation, "The Emergent Multiverse", was published in June 2012. But I also have philosophical and conceptual interests in quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, statistical mechanics, general relativity, symmetry and gauge theory, and basically pretty much all of contemporary philosophy of physics. Outside philosophy of physics, I'm interested in emergence and reductionism, in structural realism, and in decision theory.

I like cats and (extinct) dinosaurs, but don't currently own any of either.

Most Cited Publications
  1. Wallace, D. (2012). The emergent multiverse: Quantum theory according to the Everett interpretation. Oxford University Press.
  2. Saunders, S., Barrett, J., Kent, A., & Wallace, D. (Eds.). (2010). Many worlds?: Everett, quantum theory, & reality. Oxford University Press.
  3. Greaves, H., & Wallace, D. (2006). Justifying conditionalization: Conditionalization maximizes expected epistemic utility. Mind115(459), 607-632.
  4. Wallace, D. (2003). Everett and structure. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics34(1), 87-105.
  5. Wallace, D. (2003). Everettian rationality: defending Deutsch's approach to probability in the Everett interpretation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics34(3), 415-439.
Recent Publications
  1. Wallace, D. (2019). The case for black hole thermodynamics Part II: statistical mechanics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics66, 103-117.
  2. Wallace, D. (2019). Isolated systems and their symmetries, part II: local and global symmetries of field theories.
  3. Wallace, D. (2019). Observability, redundancy and modality for dynamical symmetry transformations.
  4. Wallace, D. (2019). Isolated Systems and their Symmetries, Part I: General Framework and Particle-Mechanics Examples.
  5. Wallace, D. (2019). What is orthodox quantum mechanics?. In Philosophers Look at Quantum Mechanics (pp. 285-312). Springer, Cham.

Thoroughly Modern Zeno: The Arrow, Quantum Mechanically

Speaker(s): 
Laura Ruetsche
Dates: 
Friday, November 8, 2019 - 3:30pm

In the 5th century BCE, Zeno of Elea devised dozens of arguments against the possibilities of motion, change, and plurality. The loveliest of these, the Arrow Paradox, is briefly stated: "The flying arrow is motionless." In 1970, Wes Salmon published an anthology devoted to Zeno's Paradoxes and amply demonstrating their capacity to reward scrutiny from the perspectives afforded by mathematics and physics as they themselves move forward. Wes's introduction to that anthology was my first assignment in my first philosophy course. In 2019, I'll try to demonstrate that Zeno's paradoxes continue...

Quantum Mechanics and Christianity

Speaker(s): 
Multiple Speakers
Dates: 
Friday, April 6, 2018 - 7:30pm to Saturday, April 7, 2018 - 2:00pm

Quantum mechanics is a strange theory, and it has been used to justify all manner of religious claims such as extra-sensory perception. This year we bring together five experts on the physics of quantum mechanics to discuss what we know and what we don’t know. We will work both to make the basic laws of quantum mechanics accessible to the non-expert, while at the same time addressing cutting-edge debates in the philosophy and application of quantum physics.

 

Reegister here!

Mermin in Bananaworld: Bub on Quantum Mechanics

Speaker(s): 
Michel Janssen
Dates: 
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

 In the 1980s, David Mermin derived a simple example of a Bell inequality and showed that it is violated in measurements on entangled quantum systems. In this talk, I reanalyze Mermin’s example, using correlation arrays, the workhorse in Jeffrey Bub’s Bananaworld (2016). For the class of all non-signaling correlations conceivable in the kind of experiment considered by Mermin, I derive both the Bell inequality, a necessary condition for such correlations to be allowed classically, and the Tsirelson bound, a necessary condition for them to be allowed quantum-mechanically. I show that the Tsirelson bound for these experiments follows directly from the geometry going into their quantum-mechanical analysis. I use this example to promote Bubism (not to be confused with QBism though both are information-theoretic approaches to the foundations of quantum mechanics). I do so by comparing the rules for probabilities in quantum mechanics, illustrated by my Bubist reanalysis of Mermin’s example, to the rules for spatio-temporal behavior in special relativity.

Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh
Ph.D., Philosophy, Columbia University, 2016
Summary:

My research is focused on philosophical and historical questions in quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and related topics in applied mathematics. I am particularly drawn to methodological issues that arise in the practice of modern high energy physics, along with topics in the conceptual and mathematical foundations of quantum field theory. In the philosophy of applied mathematics, I am interested in what we learn about scientific representation from the the gap between the mathematical foundations of a physical theory and the (often unrigorous) calculational strategies that physicists develop to verify its empirical adequacy. On the historical side, I am especially interested in the conceptual exchange that developed between particle physics, condensed matter physics, mathematics, and computation after World War II.

Selected Publications: 
Department of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1987
Summary:

My research is primarily in philosophy of physics.  It focuses primarily upon the area of condensed matter broadly construed. My interests include the foundations of statistical physics, dynamical systems and chaos, asymptotic reasoning, mathematical idealizations, the philosophy of applied mathematics, explanation, reduction, and emergence.

Current research examines issues about autonomy of theories and models at different scales in both length and time. I'm focusing a lot on lessons to be learned from materials scientists and applied mathematicians; particularly, about how one determines macroscopic parameters for continuum theories using various upscaling and homogenization techniques related to the renormalization group.

Most Cited Publications
  1. "The devil in the details: Asymptotic reasoning in explanation, reduction, and emergence," Robert W BattermanOxford University Press (2001)
  2. "Multiple realizability and universality," Robert W BattermanThe British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 51, 115-145 (2000)
  3. "On the explanatory role of mathematics in empirical science," Robert W BattermanThe British journal for the philosophy of science, 61, 1-25 (2010)
  4. "Minimal model explanations," Robert W Batterman, Collin C Rice. Philosophy of Science, 81, 349-376 (2014)
  5. "Critical phenomena and breaking drops: Infinite idealizations in physics," Robert W BattermanStudies in history and philosophy of modern physics, 36, 225-244 (2005)
Recent Publications
  1. "Universality and RG Explanations," Robert W BattermanPerspectives on Science, 27, 26-47 (2019)
  2. "Autonomy of theories: An explanatory problem," Robert W BattermanNoûs, 52, 858-873 (2018)
  3. "Philosophical implications of Kadanoff’s work on the renormalization group," Robert W BattermanJournal of Statistical Physics, 167, 559-574 (2017)
  4. "Biology meets physics: Reductionism and multi-scale modeling of morphogenesis," Sara Green, Robert BattermanStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 61, Pergamon (2017)
  5. "Biomedical Sciences," Sara Green, Robert BattermanStudies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 61 (2017)
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh
Ph.D., History and Philosophy of Science, University of New South Wales, 1982
Summary:

Professor Norton studies the history and philosophy of physics (relativity, quantum theory, and statistical physics), with a special interest in general relativity, and has published extensively on the detailed steps of Einstein's discovery of general and special relativity and also on many aspects of the theory's philosophical foundations. He was a contributing editor to the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, volumes 3 and 4, and was recently associate editor and coeditor of Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. He also works in general philosophy of science, with emphasis on different approaches to confirmation theory, inconsistency in theories, and thought experiments. He is editor for philosophy of physics (space and time, general physics) for the Stanford On-line Encyclopedia of Philosophy, for which he wrote the article on The Hole Argument. In 2001, Norton was one of the founders of philsci-archive.pitt.edu. He has written recently on the "material theory of induction" and defended the power of induction from the underdetermination thesis and grue. He has also mounted a non-Humean critique of causation. 

Selected Publications: 
  • "Chasing the Light: Einstein's Most Famous Thought Experiment," John D Norton, prepared for Thought Experiments in Philosophy, Science and the Arts, eds., James Robert Brown, Mélanie Frappier and Letitia Meynell, Routledge.
  • "Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters," John D Norton, Philosophy of Science 79, 207 (2012)
  • "Waiting for Landauer," John D Norton, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42, 184 (2011)
  • "Challenges to Bayesian Confirmation Theory," John D Norton, Philosophy of Statistics, Vol. 7: Handbook of the Philosophy of Science. Prasanta S. Bandyopadhyay and Malcolm R. Forster (eds.) Elsevier (2011)
  • "Little boxes: A simple implementation of the Greenberger, Horne, and Zeilinger result for spatial degrees of freedom," John D Norton, American Journal of Physics 79, 182 (2011)
Recent Publications
  1. "Weeding Landauer's Garden,"  JD Norton. (2019)
  2. "Einstein's Conflicting Heuristics: The Discovery of General Relativity,"  JD Norton.  (2018)
  3. "Eternal Inflation: When Probabilities Fail,"  JD NortonSynthese (2018)
  4. "Erratum to: How to build an infinite lottery machine." Norton, J.D. European Journal for Philosophy of Sciences 8(1) pp/ 97(2018).
  5. "Maxwell's Demon Does Not Compute,"  JD Norton.  (2017)