Logical methods in the philosophy of physics

The aim of this project is to apply logical methods to problems in the foundations of physics. We propose to classify several already existing axiomatizations of the special theory of relativity, using classical and recently developed notions of theoretical equivalence, such as Quine-Glymour equivalence, the more general notion of Morita equivalence, and the even more general notion of categorical equivalence. In a second step, we will attempt to construct first-order theories that capture some of the interesting structure of the general theory of relativity and analyze them in the same way. The goal would be gaining more clarity about questions in the general philosophy of science and in metaphysics, such as “How are special and general relativity related to each other?”. Another concerns the geometrical or physical nature of the gravitational field. A third is whether special and general relativity are supersubstantivalist: whether their ontology consists only of spatiotemporal entities. Do these metaphysical options disappear when one translates from an equivalent formulation of the theory to another? We plan to lay the foundations for future collaboration with a summer school on logical methods in Geneva. We hope to train graduate students in logical methods appropriate to the philosophy of science, whose main experts are in Princeton, and to open a new field of application, spacetime theories, a focus of the philosophy of physics group in Geneva.

 

Participants 

Professor Christian Wüthrich Ph.D.
Université de Genève, Département de philosophie / Faculté des Lettres

Professor Fabrice Correia Ph.D.
Université de Genève, Département de philosophie / Faculté des lettres

Professor Hans Halvorson Ph.D.
Princeton University, Department of philosophy

Joshua Babic M.A.
Université de Genève
Département de philosophie / Faculté des Lettres

Eliyah Cohen
Princeton University, Department of philosophy

Xueyin (Snow) Zhang
Princeton University, Department of philosophy