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Foundations of Modern Physics Workshop

Doreen Fraser (University of Waterloo) & Bixin Guo (University of Pittsburgh)
Wednesday, June 19, 2024
4:00-7:00 PM
Pond Michigan Union Map
June 19, from 4-6 pm at the Pond Room (Michigan Union), followed by a reception 6-7 pm.

4-4:50 pm Doreen Fraser (University of Waterloo): How philosophy of physics can inform physics: A case study

Recently, issues that philosophers of quantum field theory have been investigating for decades have become important in Relativistic Quantum Information, which is the field that studies information processing tasks in contexts in which relativistic effects are relevant. I will offer some reflections on this development based on my collaborations with researchers in the Relativistic Quantum Information community. In particular, I will focus on the role that metaphysical and interpretative issues have played. I will conclude with a discussion of some implications of recent work in Relativistic Quantum Information that are of philosophical interest pertaining to intertheoretic relations between non-relativistic quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. (This talk will be pitched to a general audience of philosophers and physicists and will not require technical background in quantum field theory.)

5-5:50 pm Bixin Guo (University of Pittsburgh): Next Best Thing—What Can Quantum Mechanics Tell Us About the Fundamental Ontology of the World?

Many discussions in the metaphysics and philosophy of physics literature aim to use physics as a guide to elucidate what the world really, fundamentally is like. However, we don’t yet have a confirmed fundamental theory of physics—what’s the next best thing we can possibly say about the fundamental that is properly informed by our best theories of physics? This paper offers a starting point to address this question. It focuses on the literature on the ontology of quantum mechanics, where the problem is especially salient: Many proposals aim at drawing the fundamental ontology of the world from quantum mechanics, even though they often focus on a non-fundamental theory such as nonrelativistic quantum particle mechanics. I argue that quantum mechanics can plausibly be informative about the fundamental if it is taken as a general framework theory, which covers a range of specific concrete theories, including nonrelativistic quantum particle mechanics, the Standard Model of particle physics, and string theory. I use Wavefunction Realism as an example to demonstrate what kind of ontological lessons about the world at the fundamental level the quantum framework may teach us.

If you have any questions please contact: fcalder@umich.edu
Building: Michigan Union
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Philosophy, Physics
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Philosophy, Department of Physics