MAPS Mini-Workshop in Philosophy of Physics

December 9, Friday 2:30–6:30pm, 5 Washington Place, Room 101 (NYU Philosophy Dept Auditorium). (The security staff may need to see your university/personal ID.)

Mini-Workshop in Philosophy of Physics

2:30–4:15. Jonathan Bain (NYU): What Explains the Spin-Statistics Connection?

Abstract: The spin–statistics connection plays an essential role in explanations of non-relativistic phenomena associated with both field-theoretic and non-field-theoretic systems (for instance, it explains the electronic structure of solids and the behavior of Einstein-Bose condensates and superconductors). However, it is only derivable within the context of relativistic quantum field theory (RQFT) in the form of the Spin-Statistics Theorem; and moreover, there are multiple, mutually incompatible ways of deriving it. This essay attempts to determine the sense in which the spin-statistics connection can be said to be an essential property in RQFT, and how it is that an essential property of one type of theory can figure into fundamental explanations offered by other, inherently distinct theories.

4:15–4:45. Coffee break. 

4:45–6:30. Elizabeth Miller (Yale): All Flash, No Substance?

Abstract: Primitivists agree modifying the dynamics of textbook quantum mechanics is not enough: to make adequate contact with the empirical data, our fundamental theory also needs a primitive ontology. But there remains room for disagreement as to what exactly adequacy demands of that ontology. Some of that disagreement shows up in competition between two proposed primitive ontologies for the GRW dynamics. Maudlin claims one candidate, GRWm, fails to make adequate contact with our data, falling short of conditions for empirical adequacy met by rival GRWf. Albert agrees GRWm falls short of Maudlin’s conditions but takes issue with the conditions instead. I join Albert in questioning GRWm’s alleged inadequacy, but I do so for a different reason: GRWm and GRWf are on a par with respect to Maudlin’s conditions. That is, if GRWf qualifies as empirically adequate by Maudlin’s lights, then, by those lights, GRWm should as well. Even so, the internecine dispute raises some more general questions about the demands of empirical adequacy. 

 All are welcome! 

There will be a dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please send an email with “Dinner” in the heading to (please note that all are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered). If you have any other questions, please email

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