PHIL 146: Philosophy of Physics
511193 
LE 
A00 
TuTh 
2:00p  3:20p 
SOLIS 
109 

Instructor: Craig Callender 
Office: HSS 8077 
Email: ccallender@ucsd.edu 
Office hrs: Tues 12 
Phone 8224911 



Description.
This course will be an elementary introduction to some foundational problems in
classical and quantum mechanics.
We will focus on the socalled 'measurement problem' (aka Schrödinger's cat
paradox), which has plagued quantum mechanics since the theory took its modern
form in 1925. The problem is more or less that of specifying the right
metaphysics (broadly conceived) of the quantum world. The last twenty
years have witnessed the rise and development of several competing ways of
solving this problem. We'll spend some time studying and assessing these
different solutions, e.g., Bohmian mechanics, spontaneous localization, modern
Everettian views. Each of these solutions describes a strikingly
different quantum world. Though distinct measured along almost any
dimension, these different quantum worlds do have one feature in common: they
are all startlingly weird, if not preposterous. We'll spend time studying
the curiosities associated with each theory.
Along the way, we will meet what physicists recently voted the most beautiful
experiment of all time and also what is perhaps the most surprising feature of
quantum mechanics: the experimental vindication of its prediction of
actionatadistance or nonlocality. We will also begin with some discussions
of determinism and indeterminism.
Assuming there is time, we may also discuss less orthodox questions such
as 'how many spatial dimensions does quantum mechanics say we live in?', 'what
is quantum teleportation?'. Many topics
in general philosophy of science will also arise (e.g., realism,
underdetermination.).
Accessibility. I intend the course
to be selfcontained. In the beginning
weeks we will go through much of the technicalities necessary to understand
foundational questions in quantum mechanics. In particular, I will assume you can follow
the formalism developed in chapter 2 of David Albert's Quantum Mechanics and
Experience, plus whatever little extra I do in lecture. What that
means is that you'll need to understand the very basic linear algebra
introduced by Albert (most of which is selfevident and which you learned
tacitly as a fetus). That said, some of the articles we will read use
calculus, algebra, and probability theory.
So if papers with the occasional derivative, integral and velocity in it
cause you panic, then perhaps this course is not for you.
Grading. The grade will be calculated through midterm and final examinations, as well as frequent homeworks (and possibily quizzes). The midterm, final and homeworks will each determine one third of the grade. The homeworks/quizzes will be set so as to maximize damage to one’s grade if one’s attendance is anything but regular.
Schedule.
1. Classical Mechanics and Determinism
Earman, John. 1985. “Defining Determinism”, chapter 2 of A Primer on Determinism, D. Reidel, pp. 422.
Pérez Laraudogoitia, J., 1996, ‘A Beautiful
Supertask’, Mind, 105, pp. 8183
Hoefer, C. “Causal Determinism”
Stanford Online Encyclopedia of
Philosophy
2. Some Startling Experiments and the Formalism Needed to Describe Them
Albert, chapters 1 and 2
3. The Measurement Problem: Schrödinger's Cat, Wigner's Friend, Decoherence
Albert, chapter 4
Barrett, J. The Quantum Mechanics of Minds and Worlds, section 8.3, pp. 227232.
4. Collapse Theories
Albert, chapter 5
5. The Dynamics By Itself
Albert, chapter 6
6. Bohm’s Theory
11/9 Albert, chapter 7
11/11 Veteran’s Day
7. NonLocality and
11/16 Lange, M. “Locality and Scientific Explanation” An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics, ch. 4, pp. 94110
Fine, A. “Einstein’s Critique of Quantum Theory”, ch. 3 of The Shaky Game, pp. 2639
11/18 Class cancelled, due to Philosophy of Science Association Mtg
11/23 Maudlin, T. Quantum Nonlocality and Relativity, ch. 1
Bell, J.S. "Bertlmann's Socks and the nature of Reality" in Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics, Cambridge, pp. 139158.
8. Quantum Computing
12/2 Ghirardi, G. “Quantum Computers” ch. 13 of Sneaking a Look at God's Cards, 2004, 313330.