34I0149 (Quantum Mechanics)

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.

The focus of the seminar this semester will be on the philosophy of quantum mechanics. We will read and discuss Tim Maudlin's new book on the philosophy of quantum mechanics. This book is introductory, but very rich, and so will also serve as an opportunity to study the deepest philosophical challenges arising from quantum mechanics more broadly. In particular, we will focus on the measurement problem and its proposed solutions, as well as on quantum non-locality. The regular seminar will be interspersed with talks by leading experts on their current research in the philosophy of physics.

While some background in physics, mathematics, and philosophy will be helpful, we will not assume any specific knowledge beyond high school mathematics.

This seminar will be in English.

Course Requirements

If this seminar is taken for credit, please let me know. You will have to fulfill requirements, depending on the module for which you are taking this course. For credit in philosophy:

- travail écrit de recherche avec soutenance (env. 25 pages, 50'000 signes)
- travail écrit de recherche (env. 12 pages, 24'000 signes) ou présentation orale durant le séminaire

Contact me if you need credit in physics or in another programme.

My expectation is that everyone prepares the assigned readings ahead of time, actively participates in the seminar (including those featuring a guest speaker), and accepts a reasonable share of presentation duties.

Course Materials

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

The readings for this seminar will be from the following sources:

  • Maudlin, Tim (2019). Philosophy of Physics: Quantum Theory. Princeton University Press.
  • All other reading materials will be made available on Moodle.

Presentation materials:

Schedule (Fall 2019)

This is the schedule for the seminar. It is subject to adjustment. For titles and abstracts of the guest seminars, visit genevasymmetrygroup.wordpress.com/. Reading marked with an asterisk (*) are not mandatory.

Date Readings Presenter(s)
19.09. *Maudlin, Ch. 1 Christian Wüthrich
26.09. *Albert, Ch.2, pp. 17-43 Christian Wüthrich
03.10. Felline, "The measurement problem and two dogmas about quantum mechanics" Guest seminar: Laura Felline
10.10. Maudlin, Ch. 2, pp. 36-59; *Albert, Ch. 2, pp. 43-60 Manuela Teixeira
17.10. Maudlin, Ch. 2, pp. 59-78; *Albert, Ch. 4 Salim Hirèche
24.10. Maudlin, Ch. 3; *Albert, Ch. 3 Agnès Baehni
31.10. Seminar cancelled Guest seminar: Erik Curiel
07.11. No seminar (semaine de lecture)
14.11. Maudlin, Ch. 4, pp. 94-115; *Albert, Ch. 5 Tannaz Najafi
21.11. Maudlin, Ch. 4, pp. 115-136; *Albert, Ch. 5 Luis Bordo
28.11. van Fraassen, Ch. 5 Guest seminar: Flavia Padovani
05.12. Maudlin, Ch. 5; *Albert, Ch. 7 Alberto Corti
12.12. Maudlin, Ch. 6; *Albert, Ch. 6 Benjamin Neeser
19.12. Karen Crowther and Dean Rickles (2014) Guest seminar: Juliusz Doboszewski