Philosophy of Physics
Our research in philosophy of physics addresses both philosophical questions arising from the practice of physics, and general problems from philosophy of science as illustrated by physics. Much of this work straddles the boundary between philosophy and physics, and draws upon the latest research in both disciplines. Some of the areas that philosophers of physics at the MCMP work on are as follows:
- Philosophy of space and time: what philosophical conclusions about the structure of spacetime should we draw from physical theories? Are space and time fundamental, or are they somehow “emergent” from non-spatiotemporal physical structures? What is the nature of black holes, and what conceptual and epistemological challenges do black holes pose?
- Philosophy of quantum mechanics: what is the best way to understand the revolutionary character of quantum physics? Must we solve the so-called “measurement problem” to have a satisfactory account of quantum mechanics, and if so, how should we do so? Are open quantum systems or closed quantum systems more fundamental?
- Philosophy of statistical physics: what is the relationship between statistical mechanics and thermodynamics? Does this relationship shed light on the arrow of time? How should we understand the use of idealizing limits in the analysis of phase transitions?
- Philosophy of quantum field theory: what does it mean for a field theory to be “effective”? Is quantum field theory better understood through algebraic or Lagrangian methods? And what new challenges does quantum field theory on curved spacetime pose?
Members of faculty working on philosophy of physics:
Doctoral fellows working in philosophy of physics: