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To and Fro: Scientific Metaphysics at Physics’s Frontiers

English title To and Fro: Scientific Metaphysics at Physics’s Frontiers
Applicant Wüthrich Christian
Number 169313
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de Philosophie Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.01.2017 - 30.09.2020
Approved amount 420'622.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Philosophy
Other disciplines of Physics

Keywords (6)

causation; spacetime functionalism; laws of nature; naturalized metaphysics; scientific metaphysics; philosophy of quantum gravity

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Ce projet s'inscrit dans le cadre du renouveau de la métaphysique scientifique visant à rétablir un lien fort entre la métaphysique analytique contemporaine d'une part et les sciences, et en particulier la physique, d'autre part.
Lay summary
Les notions d'espace et de temps se trouvent à la fois au coeur de la recherche actuelle en physique fondamentale ainsi qu'au centre de nombreux débats importants en métaphysique analytique contemporaine. En ce sens, les notions d'espace et de temps sont à la croisée de ces deux domaines et permettent ainsi d'exemplifier les interactions entre recherche en physique fondamentale et recherche en métaphysique analytique contemporaine. Les deux directions de ces interactions seront illustrées dans les deux parties du projet. Ainsi, dans un premier temps, on utilisera le cadre métaphysique du fonctionnalisme en vue de résoudre certaines difficultés conceptuelles liées au statut de l'espace et du temps en gravité quantique. La deuxième partie du projet s'attachera à redéfinir les principales conceptions métaphysiques des lois de la nature et de la causalité à la lumière de la recherche actuelle en physique fondamentale au sujet de l'espace et du temps.

Signification

Ce travail de recherche met en oeuvre de manière concrète un dialogue entre physique fondamentale et métaphysique analytique contemporaine, en particulier à travers le réseau international de collaborations en philosophie (métaphysique) des sciences ainsi qu'en physique. Il s'adressera ainsi autant aux métaphysiciens, en proposant de nouveaux développements au sujet des lois de la nature et de la causalité, qu'aux philosophes de la physique et aux physiciens intéressés par les fondements de la physique, en résolvant d'importantes difficultés conceptuelles et interprétatives en gravité quantique.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 06.10.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
String theory, loop quantum gravity and eternalism
Le Bihan Baptiste (2020), String theory, loop quantum gravity and eternalism, in European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 10(2), 17-17.
Modalité
HirècheSalim (2020), Modalité, in L’Encyclopédie philosophique, 1.
Spacetime emergence in quantum gravity: functionalism and the hard problem
Le Bihan Baptiste (2019), Spacetime emergence in quantum gravity: functionalism and the hard problem, in Synthese.
Have we lost spacetime on the way? Narrowing the gap between general relativity and quantum gravity
Le Bihan Baptiste, Linnemann Niels (2019), Have we lost spacetime on the way? Narrowing the gap between general relativity and quantum gravity, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Phy, 65, 112-121.
Qu'est-ce que le temps ?
Le BihanBaptiste (2019), Qu'est-ce que le temps ?, Vrin, Paris.
Spacetime is as spacetime does
Lam Vincent, Wüthrich Christian (2018), Spacetime is as spacetime does, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Phy, 64, 39-51.
Counterfactuals in the Initial Value Formulation of General Relativity
Jaramillo José Luis, Lam Vincent (2018), Counterfactuals in the Initial Value Formulation of General Relativity, in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Andreas Bartels: Naturgesetze in einer kausalen WeltMentis, Münster 2015, 254 pp, €29.80 (Paperback), ISBN: 9783957430250
Lam Vincent (2018), Andreas Bartels: Naturgesetze in einer kausalen WeltMentis, Münster 2015, 254 pp, €29.80 (Paperback), ISBN: 9783957430250, in Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 49(1), 145-148.
Structuralism in the philosophy of physics
Lam Vincent (2017), Structuralism in the philosophy of physics, in Philosophy Compass, 12(6), e12421-e12421.
Particles, Cutoffs and Inequivalent RepresentationsFraser and Wallace on Quantum Field Theory
Egg Matthias, Lam Vincent, Oldofredi Andrea (2017), Particles, Cutoffs and Inequivalent RepresentationsFraser and Wallace on Quantum Field Theory, in Foundations of Physics, 47(3), 453-466.
Causal necessitarianism and the monotonicity objection
HirècheSalim, Causal necessitarianism and the monotonicity objection, in Synthese.
Spacetime functionalism from a realist perspective
LamVincent, WüthrichChristian, Spacetime functionalism from a realist perspective, in Synthese.
The bidimensionality of modal variety
HirècheSalim, The bidimensionality of modal variety, in Inquiry -- an Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. James Read Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Claus Beisbart, Institut für Philosophie, Universität Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Kerry McKenzie, Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Alyssa Ney, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Davis United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Eleanor Knox, Department of Philosophy, King's College London Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr Andrea Oldofredi Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Michael Esfeld, Département de philosophie, Université de Lausanne Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Nick Huggett, Department of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Dr Matthias Egg Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. José Luis Jaramillo France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Ms Lisa Vogt Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr Daniele Oriti Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Fabrice Correia, Département de philosophie, Université de Neuchâtel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Dr Niels Linnemann Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Carlo Rovelli, Centre de Physique Théorique de Luminy, Marseille France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr Robert Michels Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Conference of the European Society for Analytic Philosophy (ECAP) (online due to COVID) Talk given at a conference The modal status of the laws of nature: Tahko's hybrid view and the kinematical/dynamical distinction 17.08.2020 Online video conference, Switzerland Hirèche Salim;
Philosophy of Physics Research Seminar, University of Bonn (online talk due to COVID) Individual talk Laws beyond spacetime 09.06.2020 Bonn, Germany Wüthrich Christian;
University of Connecticut Graduate Philosophy Conference on Identity (postponed due to COVID) Talk given at a conference Relativized essentialism 25.04.2020 Storrs, CT, United States of America Hirèche Salim;
Geneva Symmetry Group Seminar Individual talk Nomic necessity and the existence of physical entities 23.04.2020 Geneva, Switzerland Hirèche Salim;
Eidos seminar Individual talk Relativized essentialism about modality 09.04.2020 Geneva, Switzerland Hirèche Salim;
Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft Spring Conference (cancelled due to COVID) Talk given at a conference The modal status of the laws of nature: Tahko's hybrid views and the kinematical/dynamical distinction 01.04.2020 Bonn, Germany Hirèche Salim;
Eidos seminar Individual talk The strong arm of the law 19.03.2020 Geneva, Switzerland Hirèche Salim;
Eidos seminar Individual talk Grounding, necessitation, and blockers 12.12.2019 Geneva, Switzerland Hirèche Salim;
CUSO Workshop `Structure, Time, and Laws' Talk given at a conference Laws beyond spacetime 09.11.2019 Lausanne, Switzerland Wüthrich Christian;
British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Spacetime Emergence and Functional Realization 17.07.2019 Durham, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Le Bihan Baptiste;
Faculty of Philosophy Research Seminar, University of Lisbon Individual talk Does spacetime functionalism have to be universal? 07.06.2019 Lisbon, Portugal Wüthrich Christian;
Faculty of Science Research Seminar, University of Lisbon Individual talk Spacetime is as spacetime does 06.06.2019 Lisbon, Portugal Wüthrich Christian;
Workshop on Fundamentality in Metaphysics and in Science Talk given at a conference Fundamentality Beyond Spacetime 06.06.2019 Bristol, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Le Bihan Baptiste;
Philosophy of Science Research Seminar Individual talk From Quantum Gravity to Eternalism 13.05.2019 Bonn, Germany Le Bihan Baptiste;
Séminaire interdisciplinaire des Archives Jean Piaget Individual talk The Lost Time 16.04.2019 Geneva, Switzerland Le Bihan Baptiste;
Modes d’être, degrés d’être Talk given at a conference Contre la fragmentation de l’existence 10.04.2019 Aix-en-Provence, France Le Bihan Baptiste;
Mind and Matter: Exploring Alternatives to Physicalism and Dualism Talk given at a conference From Quantum Gravity to Neutral Monism 14.03.2019 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Le Bihan Baptiste;
Bern-Geneva-Lausanne Workshop in Philosophy of Science Talk given at a conference Eternalism Without Time 05.03.2019 Bern, Switzerland Le Bihan Baptiste;
Research Seminar in Philosophy of Physics Individual talk Spacetime is as spacetime does 01.02.2019 Utrecht, Netherlands Wüthrich Christian;
Journée d’étude sur le temps Talk given at a conference L’éternalisme: arguments physiques et philosophiques 09.01.2019 Toulouse, France Le Bihan Baptiste;
Les principes métaphysiques Individual talk Vers une métaphysique de la gravité quantique ? 02.10.2018 Paris, France Le Bihan Baptiste;
Space and Time: An Interdisciplinary Approach Talk given at a conference Have we Lost Spacetime on the Way? Narrowing the Gap between General Relativity and Quantum Gravity 28.09.2018 Vilnius, Lithuania Le Bihan Baptiste;
ENFA 7 Seventh National Meeting In Analytic Philosophy Talk given at a conference Have we Lost Spacetime on the Way? Narrowing the Gap between General Relativity and Quantum Gravity 13.09.2018 Lisbon, Portugal Le Bihan Baptiste;
The 19th UK and European Conference on Foundations of Physics Talk given at a conference Laws beyond spacetime 12.07.2018 Utrecht, Netherlands Wüthrich Christian;
Septième congrès de la Société de philosophie des sciences Talk given at a conference Composing the World Out of Nowhere 04.07.2018 Nantes, France Le Bihan Baptiste;
Congrès international triennal 2018 de la Société de philosophie analytique Talk given at a conference Composing the World Out of Nowhere 02.07.2018 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium Le Bihan Baptiste;
Florence-Pisa Doctoral School in Philosophy Conference `Philosophy, Knowledge, and the Sciences' Talk given at a conference Spacetime is as spacetime does 04.06.2018 Pistoia, Italy Wüthrich Christian;
Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft Spring Conference Talk given at a conference Spacetime is as spacetime does 16.03.2018 Berlin, Germany Wüthrich Christian;
International workshop ‘Properties and Laws in the Light of Inductive Metaphysics’, Heinrich Heine University Talk given at a conference Metaphysics of laws in dynamical spacetime and beyond 05.03.2018 Düsseldorf, Germany Lam Vincent;
CUSO workshop ‘Spacetime Functionalism’ Talk given at a conference Ontological and epistemological aspects of spacetime functionalism in quantum gravity 01.03.2018 Geneva, Switzerland Lam Vincent;
Beyond Spacetime Seminar Individual talk Perspectives from general relativity and quantum gravity on laws of nature and causation 01.12.2017 Geneva, Switzerland Lam Vincent;
Workshop `Spacetime: Fundamental or Emergent?' Talk given at a conference Spacetime is as spacetime does 27.10.2017 Bonn, Germany Wüthrich Christian;
The Sixth Biennial Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association Talk given at a conference Metaphysics of laws and causation in dynamical spacetime 01.09.2017 Exeter, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Lam Vincent;
XXth International Summer School in Philosophy of Physics Talk given at a conference Spacetime is as spacetime does 12.07.2017 Urbino, Italy Wüthrich Christian;
Conference ‘Probing the spacetime fabric: from concepts to phenomenology’, International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) Talk given at a conference Functionalist perspective on quantum gravity 03.07.2017 Trieste, Italy Lam Vincent;
3rd International Conference on the Philosophy of Quantum Gravity Talk given at a conference Comment on Healey’s talk ‘The Measurement Problem for Emergent Spacetime in Loop Quantum Gravity’ 05.06.2017 Château de Bossey (Geneva), Switzerland Lam Vincent;
Triennial International Conference of the Italian Society for Logic and Philosophy of Science Talk given at a conference Global and relational aspects of black holes 01.06.2017 Bologna, Italy Lam Vincent;
Geneva Symmetry Group seminar Individual talk Some suggestions from functionalism in philosophy of science 06.04.2017 Geneva, Switzerland Lam Vincent;
Microscopic Quantum Structure & Dynamics of Spacetime Group Meeting, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) Talk given at a conference On the ‘usefulness’ of philosophy of science/physics 01.03.2017 Golm (Berlin), Germany Lam Vincent;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Nuit de la philosophie, UNESCO Talk 17.11.2018 Paris, France Le Bihan Baptiste;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Nuit de la philosophie, UNESCO International 2018

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
165702 New Avenues Beyond Space and Time 01.09.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Scientific metaphysics is a recently much discussed approach in metaphysics that aims to bridge the artificial gap between contemporary analytical metaphysics and science by promoting a strong interrelationship between the two fields. In this context, the project explicitly considers the two directions of the relationship between contemporary analytical metaphysics and current fundamental physics, taking space and time as an exemplar for the interaction between the two. Consequently, the two interrelated parts of the project aim to travel the road between scientific metaphysics and the frontiers of physics in the two directions. In the first part 'From metaphysics to physics', the project aims to show how the tools of functionalism as developed in the philosophy of mind and metaphysics can help to resolve the conceptual problems related to the absence of standard space and time at the quantum gravity level, in particular regarding a threat of empirical incoherence. In this context, the project aims to develop a new model of functional emergence of the empirically relevant spatio-temporal features from a non-spatio-temporal ontology suggested by the current main research programs in quantum gravity. Thus, tools from metaphysics are employed to enable a successful interpretation of fundamental physical theories. Traveling in the other direction, 'From physics to metaphysics', the second part of the project aims to redefine central metaphysical conceptions concerning laws of nature and causation in the light of current research on space and time at the frontiers of physics; the goal is to update and to enrich these traditional metaphysical debates with novel inputs from contemporary fundamental physics. We aim to generalize the two main families of conceptions--namely reductive and non-reductive ones--regarding laws of nature and causation to the non-spatio-temporal setting suggested by quantum gravity. The project implements what is argued to be a fruitful--indeed ultimately inevitable--dialogue between contemporary analytical metaphysics and current fundamental physics, providing concrete examples of a two-way avenue to and fro metaphysics and physics. The project will be of relevance to a large audience of philosophers, and will bring together metaphysicians, philosophers of science, and physicists through its network of national and international partners.
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