Most of my work is in the philosophy of science and metaphysics, though I have recently developed an interest in contemporary pragmatism. One aim of my earlier research in the philosophy of physics was to shed light on metaphysical topics such as holism, realism and causation. In The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, I developed an approach toward the understanding of quantum theory according to which the theory portrays a nonseparable world, but my view of quantum theory has evolved since writing this book. My book, Gauging What’s Real, locates a different kind of nonseparability in contemporary gauge theories. I accepted the Lakatos Award for this book on May 14th, 2009. Since writing this book I have been exploring the relations between science and metaphysics from a broadly pragmatist perspective, and working on a book assessing the philosophical significance of the quantum revolution.
I worked on a project "Physics without Building Blocks" for which I received NSF support. One product of this research has been a paper published in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics "Physical Composition". Following on from this research, I am now developing a pragmatist interpretation of quantum theory---a project supported in 2011-12 by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Some of this research has been conducted as an occasional visitor to Anton Zeilinger's laboratory in Vienna. My first publication on this topic "Quantum theory: a Pragmatist Approach" appeared recently in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. Another paper appeared in Foundations of Physics Dispelling Feynman's mystery, and a third in Philosophy of Science Observation and Quantum Objectivity. Here are two more forthcoming papers: How Quantum Theory Helps us Explain, Quantum Meaning.
In Fall 2009 I visited the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics where I gave two talks Reduction and Emergence in Bose-Einstein Condensates and What's Wrong with 'Measurement'?. You can see a more recent talk I gave there here. Together with Jos Uffink and Philip Stamp, I organized an interdisciplinary workshop on Part and Whole in Physics. This was sponsored by the Lorentz Center, and took place in Leiden, the Netherlands from March 22nd-26th, 2010.
I visited the University of Sydney in February and March, 2010, where I gave six talks on "Physics without Building Blocks"
Here's a paper I wrote in 2009, stimulated by a
visit to Vienna: Reduction
and Emergence in Bose-Einstein Condensates
I contributed this essay to a review symposium on Bas van Fraassen's Scientific Representation:
and another essay to Spinoza on Monism edited by Philip Goff.
In this paper, I contrast two cases where apparently analogous arguments connect a theoretical to an empirical symmetry
"Gauge Symmetries and the Theta-Vacuum"
Here, I apply the analysis of “Perfect Symmetries” to a third symmetry.
- "Perfect Symmetries" British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2009): 697-720.
- Gauging What’s Real (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 2007.
- “Symmetry and the Scope of Scientific Realism”, in Demopoulos, W. and Pitowsky, I. eds. Physical Theory and its Interpretation (Dordrecht: Kluwer), 2006.
- “Gauge Theories and Holisms”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies In History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (2004): 643-666.
- “Change Without Change and How to Observe it in General Relativity”, Synthese 141 (2004): 1-35.
- “Can Physics Coherently Deny the Reality of Time?”, Craig Callender, ed. Time, Reality and Experience, (Cambridge: University Press, 2002), 293-316.