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Unit information: Philosophy of Physics in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Philosophy of Physics
Unit code PHILM0005
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Ladyman
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

This unit covers philosophical issues related to basic physical theories, discussing issues such as the causal structure of space-time, conceptual questions in the foundations of quantum mechanics, and the role of probability in physics.

The aim of this course is to explore metaphysical, methodological, epistemological and conceptual issues that arise in modern physics. We cover topics such as: space and time in Aristotle’s, Newton’s, and Einstein’s physics; the notion of simultaneity in Einstein’s theory of relativity; geometry and the causal structure of relativity physics; the conceptual structure of quantum mechanics, the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment; the measurement problem and Schrödinger’s cat paradox of; locality and action-at-a-distance; and causation and chance in atomic physics.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  1. Have knowledge and understanding of core issues in philosophy of physics.
  2. Be able to conduct independent research into a new topic, using online and library resources, analyze and understand difficult philosophical texts, and write clear academic prose.

Teaching details

2 x 1-hour lecture + 1-hour seminar each week + essay tutorials

Assessment Details

One essay of 5,000-6,000 words (excluding notes and bibliography)

Reading and References

  • Cushing, J., Philosophical Concepts in Physics.
  • David Albert, D., Quantum Mechanics and Experience.
  • Sklar, L. Philosophy of Physics.
  • Kosso, P., Appearance and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics.
  • Sklar, L., Space, Time and Spacetime.

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