•  3458
    Time travel and time machines
    In Craig Callender (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time, Oxford University Press. pp. 577-630. 2009.
    This paper is an enquiry into the logical, metaphysical, and physical possibility of time travel understood in the sense of the existence of closed worldlines that can be traced out by physical objects. We argue that none of the purported paradoxes rule out time travel either on grounds of logic or metaphysics. More relevantly, modern spacetime theories such as general relativity seem to permit models that feature closed worldlines. We discuss, in the context of Gödel's infamous argument for the…Read more
  •  573
    We address the question of whether it is possible to operate a time machine by manipulating matter and energy so as to manufacture closed timelike curves. This question has received a great deal of attention in the physics literature, with attempts to prove no- go theorems based on classical general relativity and various hybrid theories serving as steps along the way towards quantum gravity. Despite the effort put into these no-go theorems, there is no widely accepted definition of a time machi…Read more
  •  376
    Einstein's Role in the Creation of Relativistic Cosmology
    In Michel Janssen & Christoph Lehner (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Einstein, Cambridge University Press. pp. 228-269. 2014.
    This volume is the first systematic presentation of the work of Albert Einstein, comprising fourteen essays by leading historians and philosophers of science that introduce readers to his work. Following an introduction that places Einstein's work in the context of his life and times, the book opens with essays on the papers of Einstein's 'miracle year', 1905, covering Brownian motion, light quanta, and special relativity, as well as his contributions to early quantum theory and the opposition t…Read more
  •  297
    The Elusive Higgs Mechanism
    Philosophy of Science 73 (5): 487-499. 2006.
    The Higgs mechanism is an essential but elusive component of the Standard Model of particle physics. Without it Yang‐Mills gauge theories would have been little more than a warm‐up exercise in the attempt to quantize gravity rather than serving as the basis for the Standard Model. This article focuses on two problems related to the Higgs mechanism clearly posed in Earman’s recent papers (Earman 2003, 2004a, 2004b): what is the gauge‐invariant content of the Higgs mechanism, and what does it mean…Read more
  •  220
    Newton's Principia
    with Eric Schliesser
    In Jed Z. Buchwald & R. Fox (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics, Oxford University Press. pp. 109-165. 2014.
    The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics brings together cutting-edge writing by more than twenty leading authorities on the history of physics from the seventeenth century to the present day. By presenting a wide diversity of studies in a single volume, it provides authoritative introductions to scholarly contributions that have tended to be dispersed in journals and books not easily accessible to the general reader. While the core thread remains the theories and experimental practices of …Read more
  •  216
    Philosophy of the Physical Sciences
    with Hoefer Carl
    In Paul Humphreys (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Science, Oxford University Press. 2015.
    The authors survey some debates about the nature and structure of physical theories and about the connections between our physical theories and naturalized metaphysics. The discussion is organized around an “ideal view” of physical theories and criticisms that can be raised against it. This view includes controversial commitments regarding the best analysis of physical modalities and intertheory relations. The authors consider the case in favor of taking laws as the primary modal notion, discuss…Read more
  •  204
    Review of Geometric Possibility (review)
    Philosophia Mathematica 21 (3): 416-421. 2013.
    Review of Geometric Possibility (2011), by Gordon Belot. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. x + 219 pp.
  •  168
    Mie's Theories of Matter and Gravitation
    In Jürgen Renn (ed.), The Genesis of General Relativity, Springer. pp. 1543-1553. 2007.
    Unifying physics by describing a variety of interactions – or even all interactions – within a common framework has long been an alluring goal for physicists. One of the most ambitious attempts at unification was made in the 1910s by Gustav Mie. Mie aimed to derive electromagnetism, gravitation, and aspects of the emerging quantum theory from a single variational principle and a well-chosen Lagrangian. Mie’s main innovation was to consider nonlinear field equations to allow for stable particle-l…Read more
  •  163
    Predictability crisis in early universe cosmology
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 46 (1): 122-133. 2014.
    Inflationary cosmology has been widely accepted due to its successful predictions: for a “generic” initial state, inflation produces a homogeneous, flat, bubble with an appropriate spectrum of density perturbations. However, the discovery that inflation is “generically eternal,” leading to a vast multiverse of inflationary bubbles with different low-energy physics, threatens to undermine this account. There is a “predictability crisis” in eternal inflation, because extracting predictions apparen…Read more
  •  122
    Time in Cosmology
    In A. Bardon & H. Dyke (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to the Philosophy of Time, Blackwell. pp. 201-219. 2013.
    This essay aims to provide a self-contained introduction to time in relativistic cosmology that clarifies both how questions about the nature of time should be posed in this setting and the extent to which they have been or can be answered empirically. The first section below recounts the loss of Newtonian absolute time with the advent of special and general relativity, and the partial recovery of absolute time in the form of cosmic time in some cosmological models. Section II considers the be…Read more
  •  115
    Let's Do Black Holes and Time Warps Again: The Future of Spacetime (review)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 34 (4): 680-683. 2003.
    Book Review of The Future of Spacetime, by Stephen Hawking et al.
  •  113
    Cotes’ Queries: Newton’s Empiricism and Conceptions of Matter
    with Zvi Biener
    In Eric Schliesser & Andrew Janiak (eds.), Interpreting Newton, Cambridge University Press. pp. 105-137. 2012.
    We argue that a conflict between two conceptions of “quantity of matter” employed in a corollary to proposition 6 of Book III of the Principia illustrates a deeper conflict between Newton’s view of the nature of extended bodies and the concept of mass appropriate for the theoretical framework of the Principia. We trace Newton’s failure to recognize the conflict to the fact that he allowed for the justification of natural philosophical claims by two types of a posteriori, empiricist methodologies…Read more
  •  103
    Review of Reading Natural Philosophy: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science and Mathematics (review)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (1): 194-199. 2005.
    Book Review for Reading Natural Philosophy: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science and Mathematics, La Salle, IL: Open Court, 2002. Edited by David Malament. This volume includes thirteen original essays by Howard Stein, spanning a range of topics that Stein has written about with characteristic passion and insight. This review focuses on the essays devoted to history and philosophy of physics.
  •  94
    Tools without Theories (review)
    Metascience 15 (2): 333-337. 2006.
    Review of Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics, by David Kaiser. University of Chicago Press. 2005
  •  89
    Philosophical Geometers and Geometrical Philosophers
    In B. Hill, G. Gorham, E. Slowik & C. Kenneth Waters (eds.), The Language of Nature: Reassessing the Mathematization of Natural Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century, University of Minnesota Press. pp. 308-338. 2016.
    Galileo’s dictum that the book of nature “is written in the language of mathematics” is emblematic of the accepted view that the scientific revolution hinged on the conceptual and methodological integration of mathematics and natural philosophy. Although the mathematization of nature is a distinctive and crucial feature of the emergence of modern science in the seventeenth century, this volume shows that it was a far more complex, contested, and context-dependent phenomenon than the received his…Read more
  •  82
    Teaching Newtonian physics involves the replacement of students’ ideas about physical situations with precise concepts appropriate for mathematical applications. This paper focuses on the concepts of ‘matter’ and ‘mass’. We suggest that students, like some pre-Newtonian scientists we examine, use these terms in a way that conflicts with their Newtonian meaning. Specifically, ‘matter’ and ‘mass’ indicate to them the sorts of things that are tangible, bulky, and take up space. In Newtonian…Read more
  •  81
    Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold. Newton and the Origin of Civilization. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013. Pp. 544, index. $49.50 (review)
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 4 (2): 383-387. 2014.
    Review of Newton and the Origin of Civilization, by Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold.Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013. Pp. 544, index. $49.50
  •  72
    Gauge Pressure (review)
    with Dean Rickles, Holger Lyre, and Richard Healey
    Metascience 18 (1): 5-41. 2009.
    Symposium review of Richard Healey, Gauging What’s Real: The Conceptual Foundations of Contemporary Gauge Theories. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. 297. $99.00 HB.
  •  59
    Introduction: philosophy of quantum field theory
    with W. C. Myrvold
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (2): 77-80. 2011.
    The University of Western Ontario hosted a lively and stimulating workshop in the spring of 2009 that brought together many of the philosophers actively working on QFT. This issue collects some of the papers presented at the workshop, along with one (Earman's) that was intended for the workshop but not presented there. These papers approach the foundational problems of QFT from a variety of different technical and philosophical perspectives.
  •  39
    Traditional debates, such as those regarding whether the universe is finite in spatial or temporal extent, exemplified, according to Kant, the inherent tendency of pure reason to lead us astray. Although various aspects of Kant’s arguments fail to find a footing in modern cosmology, Kant’s objections to the search for a complete objective description of the cosmos are related to three intertwined issues that are still of central importance: the applicability of universal laws, the status of dist…Read more
  •  16
  •  16
    Q.E.D., QED
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. forthcoming.
  •  12
    Do the laws of physics forbid the operation of time machines?
    with John Earman and Christian Wuthrich
    Synthese 169 (1): 91-124. 2009.
    We address the question of whether it is possible to operate a time machine by manipulating matter and energy so as to manufacture closed timelike curves. This question has received a great deal of attention in the physics literature, with attempts to prove no- go theorems based on classical general relativity and various hybrid theories serving as steps along the way towards quantum gravity. Despite the effort put into these no-go theorems, there is no widely accepted definition of a time machi…Read more
  •  12
    We discuss the possibility to build and operate a time machine, a device that produces closed timelike curves. We specify the spacetime structure needed to implement a time machine and assess attempted no-go results against time machines in classical general relativity, semi-classical quantum gravity, quantum field theory on curved spacetime, and in Euclidean quantum gravity. Such no-go theorems for time machines would show that, under physically reasonable conditions, CTCs cannot develop in spa…Read more
  •  7
    Some reflections on the structure of cosmological knowledge
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. forthcoming.
  •  6
    Reading natural philosophy: Essays in the history and philosophy of science and mathematics (review)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (1): 194-199. 2005.
    This volume is a fitting tribute to Howard Stein. It includes 13 original essays of remarkably high quality overall, most of which were presented at Steinfest, a celebration of Stein's 70th birthday held at the University of Chicago in 1999. The essays span a range of topics that Stein has written about with characteristic passion and insight, and they illustrate the influence of Stein's body of work, both in terms of their subject matter and their methodology.
  •  5
    Preface
    Philosophy of Science 82 (5): 735-736. 2015.
    Preface to Philosophy of Science 82 (5). This volume contains a selection of contributed papers presented at the Philosophy of Science Association Meeting held in Chicago on November 6–9, 2014.