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Philosophy of Physics Research Seminars Hilary Term 2014

Convened by Dennis Lehmkuhl

The following seminars will take place at 4.30 p.m. on Thursdays, weeks 1-8, in the Lecture Room of the Philosophy Centre. 

Please note the Centre’s NEW ADDRESS: Radcliffe Humanities, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG. (This is the old Radcliffe Infirmary building.) The Lecture Room is on the second floor.

Abstracts are posted weekly.

Thu 23 January (week 1): Peter Vickers (Durham):

          Divide et impera realism and single slit diffraction: a reply to Brooker, Saatsi, and Vickers

Thu 30 January (week 2): David Wallace  (Oxford):

          Deflating the Aharonov-Bohm Effect

Thu 6 February (week 3): No seminar

Thu 13 February (week 4): Joerg Schmiedmayer :

           How does the classical world emerge from microscopic quantum evolution?

Thu 20 February (Week 5): Domenico Giullini (Hannover and Bremen):

           Gravitation and Quantum Mechanics

Thu 27 February (Week 6): Tessa Baker (Oxford):

           Cosmological Tests of Gravity

Thu 6 March (Week 7): Sean Gryb  (Perimeter Institute):

            Symmetry and Evolution in Quantum Gravity

Thu 13 March (Week 8): Philip Goyal (SUNY):

             An Informational Approach to Identical Particles in Quantum Theory

Thu 1 May (week 1 of TT): Oliver Pooley (Oxford):
New work on the problem of time

Previous seminars >

Fourth Oxford Mini-course: Anthropics, Selection Effects and Fine-Tuning in Cosmology

St Anne’s College, Oxford, 2-4 December, 2013

Lectures by Nima Arkani-Hamed (institute for Advanced Study, Princeton), Nick Bostrom (James Martin School, Oxford), Christopher Smeenk (University of Western Ontario), and Jean-Philippe Uzan (CNRS, Paris).


This mini-course will be about fine-tuning and anthropic reasoning in cosmology: about the variability of physical constants, the consequences of such variations, and how to compensate — and recalibrate probabilities accordingly — for the fact that the observations that we make are necessarily of a region in the universe in which their values make our existence possible.

Schedule of lectures

The lectures on Tuesday 3rd December will be followed by a conference dinner at St. Anne’s at 7.00 p.m., with a talk by Nima Arkani-Hamed.

The mini-course is followed by a one-day workshop on the same topic on Thursday 5th December, also at St Anne’s, with talks by Bernard Carr (Queen Mary, London), Fay Dowker (Imperial, London), George Ellis (Cape Town), Andrew Liddle (Edinburgh), Jesus Mosterin (Barcelona), John Peacock (Edinburgh), and David Sloane (Cambridge).

Workshop schedule


Attendance of the lectures and workshop is free, but registration is required, as space is limited.

Register now for the mini-course

Register now for the workshop

Purchase (£25) a place at the conference dinner


You can find accommodation at Oxford Rooms.

Philosophy of Physics research seminars Michaelmas Term 2013

Convened by Harvey Brown

The following seminars will take place at 4.30 p.m. on Thursdays, weeks 1-6, in the Lecture Room of the Philosophy Centre. In week 7, in place of the Thursday seminar, see Relativity Meets Quantum Theory at the LSE, Nov 28-29th (Centre for Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences, LSE), and Irreversibility in Axiomatic Thermodynamics, Nov 30 (Department of Philosophy, University of Cambridge). In week 8, in place of the Thursday seminar, see Anthropics: selection effects and fine-tuning in cosmology (miniseries as part of the ‘Establishing the Philosophy of Cosmology’ initiative, at St Anne’s College, Oxford University).

Please note the Centre’s NEW ADDRESS: Radcliffe Humanities, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG. (This is the old Radcliffe Infirmary building.) The Lecture Room is on the second floor.

Abstracts are posted weekly.


Thu 17 October: Edward Anderson, DAMPT, Cambridge

Background independence

Thu 24 October: Basil Hiley, Birkbeck College, London

Bohmian non-commutative dynamics: local conditional expectation values are weak values

Thu 31 October: Paul Hoyningen-Heune, Leibniz University of Hannover

The dead end objection against convergent realisms

Thu 7 November: Sam Fletcher, University of California at Irvine

On the reduction of General Relativity to Newtonian gravitation

Thu 14 November: Jeffrey Bub, University of Maryland

Quantum Interactions with Closed Timelike Curves and Superluminal Signaling  

Thu 21 November: Owen Maroney, Oxford

How is there a physics of information?

Thu 28 November: No Seminar

Thu 5 December: No Seminar

Previous seminars >

Third Oxford Mini-course: Cosmology and Quantum Foundations

10-12 June, 2013

St Anne’s College, Oxford

Quantum theory as originally formulated could only be applied given a classically-described experimental context. As such, can it be applied to the description of the universe as a whole? How should it be formulated so that it can yield a quantum theory of cosmology? Is such a description even needed? What problems in cosmology might be solved in this way? This minicourse examines these questions from the perspective of many-worlds theory, pilot-wave theory, and the relational interpretation of quantum theory, with lectures from leading advocates of each. Continue reading

Second Oxford Miniseries: Is ‘God’ Explanatory?

9-11 January, 2013

St Anne’s College, Oxford

This miniseries will explore the theological and, by extension, metaphysical questions that pertain to cosmology. The origin and order of the cosmos have helped inspire belief in a “Supreme Being” or “First Cause” for millennia; but what bearing, if any, does the modern scientific approach to studying cosmology have on such beliefs? Does introducing God into the discussion add anything?

Lectures can be viewed on YouTube Videos. Continue reading

The Everett Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: 50 years on

Thursday 19th – Saturday 21st July 2007

Quantum mechanics has been with us for over 80 years and still there is no consensus on what it means. The Everett interpretation has now been with us for 50 of those years and is now arguably the simplest most credible explanation we have of the world. It requires no additional assumptions, no conceptual divisions between observers and observed, applies to the universe as a whole, and naturally explains probabilities arising from quantum mechanics.

July sees the 50th anniversary of the publication of Hugh Everett III’s only paper on physics, the seminal “Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics”. This is an opportunity for the leading advocates and critics to come together and debate the Everett interpretation.

Sponsored by FQXi and hosted in the Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University, 40 of the world’s top academics will come together for three days on July 19th, 20th, and 21st to see if Everett’s explanation of quantum mechanics has at last come of age.

More information >