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 nyphilsci@gmail.com (please note that all are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered). If you have any other questions, please email eddy.chen@rutgers.edu

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The Subject as Cause and Effect of Evolution

The Subject as Cause and Effect of Evolution 

Speaker: Peter Godfrey-Smith (CUNY)

4:00 — 6:00 pm, Friday Dec 2, CUNY Graduate Center, Room 5307 (Address: 365 Fifth Ave).

Abstract: Organisms physically transform their environments in ways that affect their downstream evolution. The importance of this fact has been a topic in recent debates in and around evolutionary biology. I’ll discuss this theme in a general way and then extend it. A subset of “niche construction” phenomena work by way of the perceptual, cognitive, and agential properties of organisms. These cases have distinctive features seen on several scales. I’ll look at these in relation to both the large-scale history of life and attempts to give a materialist account of the place of mind in nature.

Update: There will be no dinner after this event; but there will be a reception in the room right after the talk. All are welcome. 


Upcoming Event:

December 9, Friday 2:30–6:30pm, 5 Washington Place, Room 101.

*Mini-Workshop in Philosophy of Physics*

(1) What Explains the Spin-Statistics Connection?

Speaker: Jonathan Bain (NYU)

(2) All Flash, No Substance?

Speaker: Elizabeth Miller (Yale)

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Some aspects of the quantum mechanical measurement problem in gravitational contexts.

Speaker: Daniel Sudarsky (ICN-UNAM)

5:00 — 7:00 pm, Thursday October 27th, NYU Silver Center Room 620 (address: 31 Washington Place, NYC)

Abstract: I will discuss  some of  the  extra difficulties one needs to face when addressing the measurement problem  (MP)  in gravitational contexts. We will see that complications appear   both at the  conceptual  as well as the more  technical levels . We will see however that  there are  great potential benefits in adopting certain approaches towards the MP , which  surprisingly   result on the   plausible resolution of   some  old  and some new  problems  facing the physics of gravitation. The  main focus will be on the so called   dynamical  collapse theories but I will also touch on various issues as seen from the perspective of other approaches.

There will be a dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please send an email with “Dinner” in the heading to nyphilsci@gmail.com as soon as possible so that I can make the reservation for the appropriate number of people (please note that all faculty and grad students are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered). If you have any other questions, please email eddy.chen@rutgers.edu

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2016 Fall Schedule

We have scheduled three talks for the fall semester. More details are coming soon. Here are the dates (revised due to scheduling conflicts):

December 2, Friday 4:00–6:00pm, CUNY Graduate Center, Room TBA, 365 5th Avenue.

Speaker: Peter Godfrey-Smith (CUNY Graduate Center)

Title: The Subject as Cause and Effect of Evolution 

December 9, Friday 2:30–6:30pm, 5 Washington Place, Room 101. 

Mini-Workshop on Philosophy of Science

(1) Speaker: Jonathan Bain (NYU)

Title: What Explains the Spin-Statistics Connection?

(2) Speaker: Elizabeth Miller (Yale)

Title: TBA.

For more questions, please contact eddy.chen@rutgers.edu

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Rutgers Mini-Conference on Multiverse, Theodicy, and Fine-Tuning

Metro Area Philosophers of Science,

 

I’m writing on behalf of Dean Zimmerman to invite you to a two-day pre-read workshop (June 10-11, 2016) at Rutgers University on the intersection of philosophy of physics and philosophy of religion. Our two topics are: (1) Everettian Multiverse and the problem of evil; (2) the use of probability in the fine-tuning arguments for design. Please see below for the abstracts.

Our main speakers and commentators include:

Jason Turner (Arizona)
Hans Halvorson (Princeton)
Christopher Weaver (UIUC)
Robin Collins (Messiah)
Barry Loewer (Rutgers)
Cian Dorr (NYU)
Valia Allori (NIU)
Timothy O’Connor (Indiana-Bloomington)
David Albert (Columbia)

 

Organizers:

Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers)
Eddy Keming Chen (Rutgers)

Thanks to the generosity of the Rutgers Center for the Philosophy of Religion and the Templeton Foundation, the Rutgers Philosophy Department will be hosting the workshop on Friday-Saturday, June 10-11, at the 5th Floor Seminar Room, 106 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, NJ. The program is forthcoming. Please feel free to forward the message to interested students and colleagues.

 

Due to limited space in the seminar room, if you’d like to attend the conference, please RSVP by June 1. You will receive the pre-read papers by Jason Turner and by Hans Halvorson. Please send an email titled “RSVP Multiverse” to my email address at: eddy.chen@rutgers.edu

===========ABSTRACTS================

Title: Everettian Quantum Mechanics and Evil
Author: Jason Turner

Abstract: The problem of evil has been around for a long time: How can an all-powerful and all-good God allow evil of the sorts we see in the world? If the Everettian interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct, though, then there is a lot more evil in the world than what we see. This suggest a second problem of evil: If Everettianism is true, how can an all-powerful and all-good God allow evil of the sort we don’t see? If the original problem of evil already pushed you into atheism, worries about Everettianism aren’t likely to make much difference. On the other hand, even if you have reconciled the evils we know about with theism to your satisfaction, you may be troubled by the extra Everettian evils. These evils, I will argue, pose an extra challenge for theism. I do not say the challenge cannot be met; some extant responses to the old problem of evil, if successful, may work against the new problem, too. But some won’t. As a result, the challenge is strictly harder: every solution to it is also a solution to the old problem of evil, but not every solution to the old problem of evil is a solution to it.

Title: A Probability Problem in the Fine-Tuning Argument
Author: Hans Halvorson
Abstract: According to the fine-tuning argument: (i) the probability of a life-permitting universe, conditional on the non-existence of God, is low; and (ii) the probability of a life-permitting universe, conditional on the existence of God, is high. I demonstrate that these two claims cannot be simultaneously justified. In particular, if there are good reasons for a non-theist to think that the probability of a life-permitting universe is low, then these are also good reasons for a theist.
Conference Schedule
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2016 May Events

Here is the announcement for two final events of this semester, one sponsored by NYU Philosophy Dept, and the other by MAPS. We hope to see you there!

 

Title: Quantum Field Theory and the Limits of Knowledge

Speaker: Sean Carroll (Caltech)
Time: Tuesday 2pm, May 10th.
Location: NYU Philosophy Department, Auditorium, 5 Washington Place, NYC. 

Abstract: Quantum Field Theory (QFT) is the successful paradigm underlying modern theoretical physics, including the “Core Theory” of the Standard Model of particle physics plus Einstein’s general relativity. I will argue that QFT, and in particular the notion of an “effective field theory,” grants us a unique insight: each QFT model comes with a built-in specification of its domain of applicability. Hence, once a model is tested within some domain (of energies and interaction strengths), we can be confident that it will continue to be accurate within that domain. Currently, the Core Theory has been tested in regimes that include all of the energy scales relevant to the physics of everyday life (biology, chemistry, etc.). Therefore, we have reason to be confident that the laws of physics underlying the phenomena of everyday life are completely known.

 

MAPS Mini Workshop on the Foundational Issues in GRW Theories (Miller and Hall’s talk was cancelled and may be rescheduled)

Title: Models of spontaneous wave function collapse: current status and future perspectives

Speaker: Angelo Bassi (Trieste). 
Time: Thursday May 12. 4:30-6:30pm (updated!)
Location: NYU Waverly Building, Room 366, 28 Waverly Place, NYC.

 

ABSTRACT: 
To solve the quantum measurement problem, models of spontaneous wave function collapse (collapse models) propose to modify the Schrödinger equation by including nonlinear and stochastic terms, which describe the collapse of the wave function in space. These spontaneous collapses are “rare” for microscopic systems, hence their quantum properties are left almost unaltered. At the same time, their effect adds coherently in composite systems, to the point that macroscopic spatial superpositions of macro-objects are rapidly suppressed. Their dynamics differs from the standard quantum one. I will present an update of the most promising ways of testing collapse models in interferometric and non-interferometric experiments, showing the current lower and upper bounds on their parameters. I will discuss the possible connection between collapse and gravity. I will remark on the role of the wave function, in connection to the existence of an underlying theory, out of which these models emerge as phenomenological models. 

There will be a dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please send an email with “Dinner” in the heading to nyphilsci@gmail.com as soon as possible so that I can make the reservation for the appropriate number of people (please note that all faculty and grad students are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered). If you have any other questions, please email eddy.chen@rutgers.edu
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Cosmological Probabilities: General Relativity and Statistical Mechanics Writ Large

Dear All,
I hope your semester is going well! Just a reminder that Casey McCoy (UCSD) will give a talk next Tuesday. Please see below for more details about McCoy’s talk and some updates about the other upcoming events. (Sorry for the length.)
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Title: Cosmological Probabilities: General Relativity and Statistical Mechanics Writ Large


Speaker: Casey McCoy, Department of Philosophy, UCSD
Date: Tuesday, April 5
Time: 4:10-6:00 pm

Location: Room 716, Department of Philosophy, Columbia University
 
Physicists and philosophers have occasionally advanced arguments concerning the probabilities of possible universes. Although it may seem dubious to treat the entire universe as a random event, an appealing approach to justifying and interpreting cosmological probabilities is to extrapolate successful applications of probability in physics, such as statistical mechanics, to the universe. I argue, however, that adapting successful strategies in statistical mechanics to cosmology runs aground on several serious problems. I examine in particular two cases: adding probabilities to general relativity and treating the universe as a statistical mechanical system.
 
There will be a dinner after the talk. If you are interested and haven’t RSVP’ed, please send an email with “Dinner” in the heading to nyphilsci@gmail.com as soon as possible so that I can make the reservation for the appropriate number of people (please note that all faculty and grad students are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered). If you have any other questions, please email eddy.chen@rutgers.edu
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Upcoming talks at Metro Area Philosophy of Science:
=================================================================
Apr 12. 4:30-6:30pm @ NYU Silver 621.  Laura Franklin-Hall (NYU). 
TITLE: Why are some kinds historical and others not?

ABSTRACT: This paper explores why scientists sometimes classify entities in terms of their histories, and other times based exclusively on their non-historical or ‘synchronic’ properties. After reviewing examples of these two approaches, I formulate a principle designed to both describe and explain this aspect of our scientific classificatory practice. According to this proposal, a domain is apt for historical classifications just when the probability of the independent emergence of similar entities (PIES) in that domain is very low. In addition to rationalizing this principle and showing its ability to correctly account for classification practices across the natural and social sciences, I consider whether the kinds so circumscribed will be objective or real.
=================================================================
Apr 26. 4:30-6:30pm @ NYU Silver 621.  Lev Vaidman (Tel Aviv). 
TITLE: In favor of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics
ABSTRACT: I will describe my understanding of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (MWI) and will argue that today it is the only reasonable candidate for  explaining Nature. First I will discuss what is a good explanation and will emphasise the high value of determinism and locality. I will argue that classical physics provides a good explanation of Nature, but unfortunately it is a wrong explanation, as it contradicts experimental observations.  Textbook quantum mechanics  is a correct theory in the sense that it fits all experimental results, but it is not a good  theory, since it is not precisely defined,  has randomness and action at a distance. For a physicist it is very difficult to believe that a final theory of Nature has such features. The MWI, by fiat, has (almost) the same experimental predictions, but is free from physics difficulties. The fundamental ontology of the MWI is the universal wave function evolving according to well accepted deterministic physical laws. The connection to the world we experience, with its illusion of randomness and apparent action at a distance, will be explained. A  more refined description of a world in the framework of the MWI which includes microscopic systems taking part in experiments will be provided. It includes, in addition to the forward evolving wave function, the second wave function evolving backward in time from measurements in the future.
It is not necessary, but might be helpful to look at relevant publications:

 Quantum Theory and Determinism  PDF
  L. Vaidman, 
Quantum Stud.: Math. Found. 1, 5-38 (2014)

 The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics      
L. Vaidman,
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
 (Winter 2014 Edition), E. N. Zalta (ed.)

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May 12. 3:00-6:30pm @ NYU location TBA.  Mini Workshop on the Foundational Issues of GRW Theories.
  • Elizabeth Miller (Yale) & Ned Hall (Harvard). Title: TBA. 
  • Angelo Bassi (Trieste). TITLE: Models of spontaneous wave function collapse: current status and future perspectives

ABSTRACT: 
To solve the quantum measurement problem, models of spontaneous wave function collapse (collapse models) propose to modify the Schrödinger equation by including nonlinear and stochastic terms, which describe the collapse of the wave function in space. These spontaneous collapses are “rare” for microscopic systems, hence their quantum properties are left almost unaltered. At the same time, their effect adds coherently in composite systems, to the point that macroscopic spatial superpositions of macro-objects are rapidly suppressed. Their dynamics differs from the standard quantum one. I will present an update of the most promising ways of testing collapse models in interferometric and non-interferometric experiments, showing the current lower and upper bounds on their parameters. I will discuss the possible connection between collapse and gravity. I will remark on the role of the wave function, in connection to the existence of an underlying theory, out of which these models emerge as phenomenological models. 
=================================================================
I’ll also post updates and info on this website; Massimo Pigliucci (CUNY) has been managing the MAPS Facebook page.
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Here is another lectures series that members of this group will find interesting. It features several members from MAPS: David Chalmers, Tim Maudlin, and David Albert.
 
“The New York Academy of Sciences is excited to announce a new six-part lecture series, The Physics of Everything, the first of which will take place on April 5 and the last of which will be on June 29.”
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Best Wishes,

Eddy Chen

Eddy Keming Chen
陈科名
Doctoral Student
Department of Philosophy
Rutgers University, New Brunswick

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