Scientific Realism and the Quantum Events

Scientific Realism and the Quantum: Final Conference

Date: September 12th, 2017 — September 13th, 2017

Keynote Speakers:

  • Doreen Fraser (Waterloo)
  • Carl Hoefer (Barcelona)
  • George Musser
  • Adrian Kent (Cambridge)
  • Alyssa Ney (UC Davis)
  • David Wallace (USC)

Download the programme HERE as PDF, including abstracts


The conference will be in the Law School (no. 16 on the map here – just behind the Business School, off Clarendon Rd), in The Moot Court in the first floor.


12. September 2017

Workshop for Science Communicators

10am  Launch

10:05 – 11:00  George Musser: Keynote

11:00 – 11:15  Coffee

11:15 – 12:00  Mini-talks

  • Juha Saatsi (Leeds)
  • Alyssa Ney (UC Davis)
  • Doreen Fraser (Waterloo)
  • David Wallace (USC)

12:15 – 13:00  Q&A and panel discussion

Conference Starts

13:00 – 14:00  Lunch

14:00 – 15:15  Alyssa Ney (UC Davis): The Fundamentality of Quantum Theories

15:15 – 15:30  Coffee

15:30 – 16:45  David Wallace (USC):  Quantum Mechanics as a Theory Framework

16:45 – 17:00 Tea

17:00 – 18:15  Adrian Kent (Cambridge): Testing the Bell Nonlocality of the Gravitational Field

19:00 –           Drinks and Dinner

13. September 2017

09:30 – 10:45  Carl Hoefer (Barcelona): Quantum natural kinds: like atoms, or phlogiston?

10:45 – 11:00  Coffee

11:00 – 11:45  Raffael Krismer (Vienna): Pragmatism, Realism, and Quantum Mechanics

11:45 – 12:30  Mauro Dorato (Roma Tre): Is Healey’s pragmatist approach compatible with physicalism?

12:30 – 13:30  Lunch

13:30 – 14:15  Matthias Egg (Bern): Metaphysical Underdetermination in QM and QFT

14:20 – 15:05  Joshua Rosaler (RWTH Aachen): Branching, Scientific Realism, and the Set Selection Problem

15:10 – 15:55  Diego Romero Maltrana and Pablo Acuna (PUCV): Quantum Mechanics as a Framework Theory

15:55 – 16:15  Tea

16:15 – 17:30  Doreen Fraser (Waterloo): The non-miraculous success of formal analogies in quantum theories

17:30 – 17:45  George Musser: Concluding thoughts

18:00 –           Close. Drinks.

Conference Description:

This conference brings together philosophy of quantum physics and the scientific realism debate in general philosophy of science. The focus is on epistemological issues of scientific (anti-)realism regarding the nature and limits of our knowledge and understanding of quantum physics and phenomena. This exemplifies a growing trend in the realism debate to study such epistemological issues more ‘locally’ in relation to the details of particular scientific theories. The leading questions are:

  • What support is there for or against realism about quantum physics?
  • How do we square the metaphysical and interpretational ambiguities alive in quantum physics with the epistemic optimism characteristic of scientific realism?
  • Would it be better to adopt a pragmatist or non-realist attitude towards quantum physics (as has been recently argued in various quarters)?

The conference aims to bring together current research on these inter-sub-disciplinary issues, exploring different perspectives on various issues involved in the scientific realism debate in the detailed context of quantum physics. Specific issues of interest include the following:

  • The impact of quantum mechanics on standard forms of scientific realism.
  • The viability of pragmatic approaches to quantum physics.
  • The possibility of adopting a realist stance towards the quantum state.
  • The status of the wave-function in the realist context.
  • The adoption of agnostic attitudes in the context of underdetermination with regard to the interpretations of quantum mechanics.
  • The role of analogies in quantum physics and their impact on realism.
  • The challenges facing naturalistic approaches in quantum physics in general.
  • The impact of the development of renormalization group approaches to quantum field theory on scientific realism.

Local Organisers:

  • Douglas Earl
  • Steven French
  • Simon Newey
  • Juha Saatsi

Program Committee

  • Valia Allori (Northern Illinois University)
  • Soazig LeBihan (University of Montana)
  • Dennis Dieks (Utrecht University)
  • Matthias Egg (University of Bern)
  • Steven French (University of Leeds)
  • Richard Healey (University of Arizona)
  • Lina Jansson (University of Nottingham)
  • Peter Lewis (Dartmouth College)
  • Wayne Myrvold (Western University)
  • Laura Ruetche (University of Michigan)
  • Chris Timpson (Oxford)
  • David Wallace (University of Southern California)