The philosophy of physics deals with methodological, epistemological, and metaphysical issues in physics. This seminar has the dual purpose of systematically introducing the background necessary to do research in philosophy of physics as well as discussing current research in the field.

On the one hand, we will focus on the foundations of quantum mechanics this semester, in particular on aspects of the measurement problem, its proposed solutions, and quantum non-locality. On the other hand, we will discuss current research in the philosophy of quantum gravity. While some background in physics, mathematics, and philosophy will be helpful, I will not assume any specific knowledge beyond high school mathematics. No background in quantum gravity is necessary to successfully complete this seminar.

Course Materials

Course materials such as lecture notes, handouts, etc will be made available as they will be used in class.

The following books are strongly recommended for this seminar:

  • David Albert, Quantum Mechanics and Experience, Harvard University Press 1992.
  • Tim Maudlin, Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity, 3rd edition. Wiley-Blackwell 2011.
  • More materials will be made available on Chamilo.

Lecture Notes

Course materials such as lecture notes, handouts, etc will be made available as they will be used in class.


This is the schedule of topics and readings for the seminar. It is likely subject to adjustment. For titles and abstracts of the guest talks, visit beyondspacetime.net

Date Topic Readings
17.09. Introduction, Superposition Albert, Ch. 1
24.09. The mathematical formalism and the standard way of thinking
about it
Albert, Ch. 2
01.10. Standard quantum mechanics continued Barrett, Ch. 2;
Barrett, Appendix
*07.10. Guest (Geneva): Vincent Lam (Lausanne)
Landolt L107, 16:15
08.10. Guest (Chicago): David Baker (Michigan)
15.10. Wrapping up the standard theory *SEP entry on
quantum mechanics
*21.10. Guest (Geneva): Michael Esfeld (Lausanne)
Landolt L107, 16:15
22.10. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox and Bell's theorem Albert, Ch. 3;
*Einstein et al.;
29.10. Guest (Geneva): Daniele Oriti (Albert Einstein Institute,
Golm): Motivations for quantum gravity and its philosophical interest
05.11. Semaine d'études
*11.11. Guest (Chicago): Kerry McKenzie (UCSD)
Landolt L107, 16:15
12.11. Bell's theorem and quantum nonlocality Maudlin, Ch. 1;
19.11. Finally: The measurement problem Albert, Ch. 4;
Maudlin, Topoi
26.11. Collapse Albert, Ch. 5;
*SEP entry on
collapse theories
03.12. Guest (Geneva): Nick Huggett (University of Illinois, Chicago)
10.12. Seminar cancelled (I will be at a conference)
17.12. Dynamics by itself and Everett and many worlds Albert, Ch. 6;
*SEP entry on
For next semester: Bohm and hidden variables Albert, Ch. 7;
*SEP entry on
Bohmian mechanics


  • With the exception of the first meeting, assigned readings should be prepared before the meeting.
  • Readings marked with an asterisk are background reading which will not be examined.
  • The participation in events marked with an asterisk is not mandatory.