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Becker seems fond of the de Broglie-Bohm pilot wave approach, which Bell also liked, and there are some unusually positive mentions of "spontaneous collapse" theories, but both of those have some serious issues. Many-worlds gets discussed, but to me it seems to be given short shrift for the usual collection of reasons that are presented as if they're philosophically profound but strike me as little more than aesthetic preferences.

And the whole category of epistemic and information-based interpretations is brushed off as obviously ridiculous. As is often the case with works that touch of philosophy of physics, there's also a fair bit of space devoted to demarcation problem stuff about what is and isn't science. A lot of this seems to ultimately trace back to the fundamentally unresolvable question of what Eugene Wigner called "the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics," the observation that there's no obvious reason why the universe ought to obey simple and comprehensible mathematical laws in the first place.

And, yes, it's true that basically every approach to science has that as a shared, often unstated assumption, but I don't see how lifting that can lead anywhere. And the fundamental problem with a lot of calls for philosophizing is that it's, well, really hard. Simply being willing to think about deep philosophical topics isn't any guarantee that it will be productive, a problem that's illustrated a bit by the second book on my list, Paul Halpern's The Quantum Labyrinth. The book is a sort of joint biography of Richard Feynman and his Ph.

The two were closer in age than their roles might suggest-- Wheeler was very young when he started at Princeton, and Feynman was his first student-- and had very compatible approaches to physics. They had very different ideas about philosophy, though-- Feynman was in famously dismissive of anything that strayed too far from the practical and measurable, while Wheeler was celebrated for a kind of philosophical playfulness, his dedication to thinking about big and deep problems at all times.

There's a bit of awkwardness to the book's joint-biography structure, in that Feynman and Wheeler didn't really do significant work together after WWII, though they remained friends, and Wheeler continued to invite Feynman to things. Their pre-war work together was genuinely revolutionary, though, leading directly to Feynman's path-integral formulation of quantum mechanics, which in turn formed the basis of Feynman's approach to QED, which in turn forms the conceptual basis of a lot of modern thinking about the subject.

This is interesting as a case study of the interplay between Wheeler's more philosophical approach and Feynman's more grounded one, though it's not necessarily flattering for Wheeler. Wheeler's big thinking did serve as an inspiration for Feynman's ultimate triumph, in that the idea of "doing away with fields" led to considering signals passing backwards in time, and that in turn led to the idea of positrons as electrons traveling backward in time.


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Those big-picture ideas were comprehensively transformed by Feynman's approach, though, as he forced the wackier ideas to conform to measurable reality. In the end, Feynman's QED has about the same relationship to Wheeler's original speculations as modern quantum chemistry has to the atomist philosophy of Democritus. And while Wheeler was unquestionably great at identifying and inspiring talented young physicists, not to mention turning a phrase to describe a big idea, it's hard not to notice the same pattern with most of his ideas.

He would hit upon some big idea-- removing fields from quantum physics, or "geons" in General Relativity, or his later "It from Bit" focus on information-- and get people fired up to explore it, but most of them didn't really go anywhere. When some sort of progress did emerge from one of these projects, only inspirational traces of Wheeler's original notion remained by the time something practical was made of it.

Physics Needs Philosophy / Philosophy Needs Physics

My copy of Sabine Hossenfelder's forthcoming book. The book is a critique of the current state of fundamental particle physics, particularly its use of vague notions about mathematical elegance as a criterion for evaluating theories in the absence of actual experimental measurements. Out of the three, I think this is the most useful from the standpoint of both philosophy and physics because it has a very definite focus. In the best tradition of philosophy, Hossenfelder has identified an unquestioned and unjustified assumption, and in the best tradition of physics, her objection is a very specific and concrete one: that the assumption of "naturalness" is founded in aesthetics and not rigorously definable in terms of physics.

On the other hand, you should obviously know some physics if you want to philosophize about it. Good technical i. Maybe you are talented enough to learn all the physics and mathematics you need in self-study, but taking some good classes in university is usually worthwhile if you have the chance. If your education so far has focussed on more traditional areas of philosophy — logic, epistemology, metaphysics, even ancient Greek philosophy — you can put this to good use in the philosophy of physics. I also appreciate the fact that I can take a broader view on physics and engage with different subjects, rather than specializing in a particular technique to squeeze as much out of it as possible.

I have not regretted changing into philosophy, so far.

What is Philosophy of Physics?

Making a career in academia is always hard, and there is usually more money meaning more positions in fields that are closer to practical applications. And outside of academia, a degree in physics or mathematics is generally worth more on the job market than a philosophy degre e. Bad philosophy is easy, good philosophy is hard. Philosophy of physics is not a hobby but a serious field of research with professional standards.

In particular, doing good work in foundations of physics requires just as much specialized skill and expertise as any other discipline in physics. Some universities offer graduate programs that specialize in philosophy of science or even philosophy of physics. This is by no means the only path into the field, but certainly a good one. If you want to do a Ph. The newly-founded John Bell Institute for the Foundations of Physics is dedicated to creating an international research community for the foundations of physics.

Check the website to find leading experts in the field. Here is a selection of universities with a specialized program or research focus in philosophy of physics. The list is certainly incomplete, not being included does not indicate a negative opinion. The following is not a complete reading list for future students, but a very short and subjective selection of my favorite books on foundations of physics that should be accessible to non-experts and give a taste of the discipline at its best.

Links to amazon. Hi Safaa, glad you found the post helpful. I think lab work is pretty far away from philosophy of physics. You could, however, look for a physics program where you can minor in philosophy. There is even such a thing as experimental philosophy and computational philosophy.

Courses and Programs

I am no expert in that, but with your background, it might be worth looking into it. Ok that was helpful.


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So my question for you, from your academic experience, is there any online on- distance program where one can enroll? Also is it possible to get a master degree in philosophy directly without having a BA!? What is Philosophy of Physics? What to study Most people working in philosophy of physics today have an education in philosophy, but there is an increasing number of researchers who have transitioned from physics or mathematics or hold a double-degree.

Where to study Some universities offer graduate programs that specialize in philosophy of science or even philosophy of physics. Research groups and graduate programs Here is a selection of universities with a specialized program or research focus in philosophy of physics. Switzerland University of Lausanne Prof. R esearch project on the philosophy of spacetime and quantum gravity.

UK Oxford. Offers a graduate course on Philosophy of Physics.

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Physics and Philosophy Specialist (Science Program) - ASSPE | Academic Calendar

Has a department of History and Philosophy of Science. University of Bristol. University of Pittsburgh. Has one of the top-rated philosophy faculties in the world and a department dedicated to the History and Philosophy of Science. UC San Diego. Has a Science Studies program and a strong research focus on philosophy of science and philosophy of physics.