Philosophy of Physics Seminar

The Philosophy of Physics Seminar is a seminar series devoted to the philosophical and conceptual study of the major physical theories: statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, and theories of space-time, gravity, and cosmology. It is also concerned with the nature of symmetries and symmetry breaking, probability theory, and historically important theories, such as Newtonian gravity.

The Seminar will be hosted online via Zoom in HT21 on Thursdays 16:30 - 18:30. Please email Simon Saunders if you would like to attend.

Philosophy of Physics Seminar Convenors: Simon Saunders | Philosophy of Physics Group Website

Past Terms

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Week 1 (23rd January)             

Anders Sandberg (Oxford)                    

Physical eschatology: how much can we say about the far future of the universe, and how much does it matter?

Week 2 (30th January) 

Mauro Dorato (University of Rome 3)

Overcoming dynamical explanations with structural explanations
Week 4 (13th February)

John Dougherty (Munich)

Why ghosts are real and “surplus structure” isn’t
Week 5 (20th February)

Brian Pitts (Cambridge)

Constraints, Gauge, Change and Observables in Hamiltonian General Relativity
Week 6 (27th February)                            

Simon Saunders (Oxford)

Particle trajectories, indistinguishable particles, and the discovery of the photon


Week 1 (17th October) Patricia Palacios (University of Salzburg) Re-defining equilibrium for long-range interacting systems
Week 2 (24th October) Francesca Chadha-Day (Cambridge) Dark Matter: Understanding the gravity of the situation
Week 4 (7th November)                                  Jamee Elder (Philosophy, University of Notre Dame/University of Bonn)                   The epistemology of LIGO
Week 5 (14th November) Adam Caulton (Philosophy, Oxford) Is a particle an irreducible representation of the Poincaré group?
Week 6 (21st November) Radin Dardashti (Philosophy, University of Wuppertal) Understanding Problems in Physics
Week 8 (5th December)  Karim Thébault (Philosophy, Bristol) Time and Background Independence (based on work with Sean Gryb (Groningen)


Week 1 (17th January)

Laurenz Hudetz (LSE)

'The conceptual-schemas account of interpretation'

Week 2 (24th January) Patrick Dürr (Oxford) 'Philosophy of the Dead: Nordström Gravity'
Week 3 (31st January) Yang-Hui He (City, London) 'Exceptional and Sporadic'
Week 4 (7th February)  Casey McCoy (Stockholm) 'Why is h-bar a universal constant?' 
Week 5 (14th February)  Joanna Luc (Cambridge)              'Generalised manifolds as basic objects of General Relativity'

Week 6 (21st February)                                    

Katie Robertson (Birmingham)                                             

'Reducing the second law of thermodynamics: the demons and difficulties'

Week 7 (28th February)      Alex Franklin (KCL) 'On the Effectiveness of Effective Field Theories'

Week 8 (7th March)

Karen Crowther (Geneva) 'As Below, So Before: Synchronic and Diachronic Conceptions of Emergence in Quantum Gravity'
Week 1 (11th October)                      

David Wallace (USC)                                   

'Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking in Finite Quantum Systems: a decoherent-histories approach'
Week 2 (18th October)  Simon Saunders (Oxford)  
Week 5 (8th November) Tushar Menon (Oxford) 'Rotating spacetimes and the relativistic null hypothesis'
Week 6 (15th November) Jonathan Barrett (Oxford) 'Quantum causal models'
Week 7 (22nd November) James Nguyen (IoP/ UCL) 'Interpreting Models: A Suggestion and its Payoffs'
Week 1 (26th April) Doreen Fraser (Waterloo)  "Renormalization and scaling transformations in quantum field theory"
Week 2 (3rd May) Jeremy Butterfield (Cambridge) "On Dualities and Equivalences Between Physical Theories"
Week 3 (10th May)  Matt Farr (Cambridge) "The C Theory of Time"
Week 4 (17th May) Seth Lloyd (MIT) "The Future of Quantum Computing"

Week 5 (24th May)

Emily Thompson (Durham)

"John Locke: Newtonian Absolutist about Time"

Week 6 (31st May) Minhyong Kim "Three Dualities"

Week 7 (7th June)          

Owen Maroney (Notre Dame)                             

"What's Fine for Leggett and Garg? About Measurements and Macrorealisms"