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:
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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.
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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.
——————————————–
 
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.”
——————————————–

Best Wishes,

Eddy Chen

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

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Lessons for Quantum Foundations from the Minimal Modal Interpretation

Speaker: Jacob Barandes, Department of Physics, Harvard University
Collaborator: David Kagan, Department of Physics, UMass-Dartmouth
Date: Tuesday, February 23
Time: 4:10-6:00 pm
Location: Room 716, Department of Philosophy, Columbia University
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Abstract: The language of random variables makes possible a formal analogy between classical probability theory and quantum theory that better highlights their key similarities and differences. I’ll use this formulation to clarify the underlying problems that have long obstructed the development of a satisfactory interpretation of quantum theory, suggest changes in how we introduce students to quantum theory, discuss important new requirements for future work on quantum foundations, provide a helpful classification scheme for the various prominent interpretations, and motivate a novel “minimal” modal interpretation. This new interpretation is minimal in the sense that its fundamental ingredients are only those that either have clear counterparts in classical physics or are familiar from the traditional formulation of quantum theory. I’ll explain how the minimal modal interpretation provides every quantum system with both a definite ontology as well as approximate ontological dynamics ensuring the stability of that ontology through time, whether the system is closed or open and whether the system is in a pure state or in a highly entangled improper mixture. The rules governing the ontological dynamics are based on a class of newly discovered quantum conditional probabilities whose detailed properties I will discuss in depth. I’ll conclude with a summary of open questions and implications for issues of importance to the philosophy of physics.

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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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Upcoming talks at Metro Area Philosophy of Science:

  • (TBA). 4:30-6:30pm @ NYU. Laura Franklin-Hall (NYU). Topic: TBA.
  • Apr 26. 4:30-6:30pm @ NYU. Lev Vaidman (Tel Aviv). Topic: Many-Worlds QM.
  • May 3. 4:10-6:00pm @ Columbia. Collin Rice (Lycoming). Topic: TBA.
  • May 12. 3:00-6:30pm @ NYU. Mini Workshop on Philosophy of Physics: (1) Elizabeth Miller (Yale) & Ned Hall (Harvard), and (2) Angelo Bassi (Trieste). Topics: TBA.
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Shamik Dasgupta: “How to be a Relationalist”

Hi Everyone,
Shamik Dasgupta (Princeton University) will be giving the first talk of the semester on Tuesday November 3. More info below:
—————–
Speaker: Shamik Dasgupta (Princeton University).
Time: Tuesday, November 3, 5pm-7pm. [*note time change]
Location: NYU Silver Center for Arts and Science (SILVR) Room 520
100 Washington Square E, New York, NY 10003, USA
Title: How to be a Relationalist
Abstract:
 
Philosophers and physicists have entertained “relationalist” views about a number of domains. Examples include the view that motion is fundamentally relative (not absolute), that quantities like mass are fundamentally relational (not intrinsic), and others besides. These relationalist views all entail a restricted possibility space: that there is no distinction between worlds agreeing on relative motions, that there is no distinction between worlds agreeing on all mass relations, and so on. This restricted possibility space is often considered a virtue, but some have argued that it is a vice. In particular, it has been argued that an adequate physical theory of observed phenomena requires drawing distinctions between possibilities that the relationalist cannot recognize (Newtons bucket argument is just one example of this kind of argument). In response, I suggest that the relationalist distinguish between different senses of possibility. Relationalist views do indeed imply a restricted possibility space, but not in the same sense of “possibility” in which the relationalist should couch her physical theorizing. If that is right, then relationalist views can offer adequate physical theories after all. The challenge is to clearly articulate these different senses of “possibility”, and I will make a start at doing so.
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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More Talks from Metro Area Philosophers of Science Group, 2015 Fall:
Nov 17, Tuesday 5:00-7:00pm @ NYU (SILVR) Room 401 [*note time change]
Topic: “The Mathematical Route to Causal Understanding”
Dec 4, Friday 4:30-6:30pm @ NYU
Kathryn Tabb (Columbia University)
Topic: “Random Walks and Torturous Paths: Moving from the Descriptive to the Etiological in Psychiatry”
Another relevant talk in the Metro Area: 
Nov 19, Thursday 4:10 pm – 6:00 pm, Philosophy Hall 716, Columbia University
Mark Wilson (Pittsburgh University) is giving a departmental colloquium. Title: TBA
 –
More details to follow.
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Dan Kabat: “Black Holes and Information”

Dan Kabat (Lehman College) will be giving a talk on the Black Hole Information Loss Paradox on Wednesday, May 6th. The talk will be held from 4:00-6:00pm in Room 716, Philosophy Hall (Columbia). Hope to see you all there!

Title TBA
Dan Kabat, Lehman College

Abstract TBA

There will be a dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please email 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 nyphilsci@gmail.com.

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Michael Esfeld: “The Natural Philosophy of Classical and Quantum Physics: A proposal for a fundamental ontology”

Michael Esfeld (University of Lausanne) will be giving a talk entitled “The Natural Philosophy of Classical and Quantum Physics: A proposal for a fundamental ontology” on Wednesday, April 22nd. The talk will be held from 4:00-6:00pm in Room 518, 1 Washington Sq North (Silver School of Social Work, NYU). The abstract for his talk is below. Hope to see you all there!

“The Natural Philosophy of Classical and Quantum Physics: A proposal for a fundamental ontology”
Michael Esfeld, University of Lausanne

In this talk, I sketch out a fundamental ontology of matter points that are individuated by the spatial relations in which they stand (spatial structure); the change in these relations is determined by dynamical relations (dynamical structure). That is all. In particular, there is no need for properties in the ontology of physics. Relations (structures) do all the work. This proposal is compatible with both Humeanism and modal realism (e.g. dispositionalism about laws of nature). I explain how this proposal applies to both classical and quantum physics, constituting an alternative to wave function realism as well as a dualism of wave function and particle ontology.

There will be a dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please email 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 nyphilsci@gmail.com.

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