Richard has taught at the University of Arizona since 1991. He teaches a variety of courses in philosophy of science, including philosophy of biology and physics. For descriptions of courses Prof. Healey regularly teaches, click the links on the left.

Philosophy 596H: Philosophy of Physical Science


Course Description.

What is the philosophical significance of the quantum revolution? What makes quantum theory such a radical break with classical physics? Here are some answers people have given: I believe these answers all miss the true philosophical significance of quantum theory and I'll try to show you why. I think the real philosophical significance of quantum theory is that it presents us with a new way of doing science. This has implications for our understanding of key concepts including theory, model, representation, law, explanation, causation, probability, objectivity, meaning and fundamentality. In the first part of the seminar we'll look at how quantum theory works, and come to grips with some of its distinctive ideas including quantum states and probabilities, superposition, entanglement, "non-locality" and measurement. After a brief interlude to assess rival interpretations of quantum theory I'll try to persuade you the philosophical importance of quantum theory is not that it tells us the world is fundamentally very different from how we thought but that even a fundamental scientific theory need not tell us what the world is like. I encourage spirited but well-defended disagreement!

Complete Course Syllabus