Symposium at BSPS 2021 – Dependence in Physics

This week the FraMEPhys team will be presenting project research in a symposium at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference, online and open to all. The symposium runs 2.30-4.00pm on Weds 7th July, with talks from Alastair Wilson, Katie Robertson, and Michael Townsen Hicks.


2.30 – 3.00 : Alastair Wilson, “Counterpossible Dependence in Physics”
Handout here

3.00 – 3.30 : Katie Robertson, “Reduction, Relicts, and Realism”
Handout here

3.30 – 4.00 : Michael Townsen Hicks, “Symmetries, Explanation, and Grounding
Handout here


The symposium explores the general notion of dependence as it applies within physics, and contrasts various different relations of dependence which appear to be needed to understand the practice and content of physics. In particular, the symposium talks focus on the dependence relations of reduction (both ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ varieties), grounding and causation. Reduction and grounding are typically conceived as (in different ways) relating multiple levels of physical reality, while causation is supposed to relate events at a single level. However, every case of reduction is highly contested, there are well-known difficulties in making sense of causation in fundamental physics, and grounding presents additional conceptual problems which have as yet received little attention. The aim of this symposium is to classify these different notions of dependence, to explore their similarities and differences, and to illustrate their application to physical contexts including the mechanics of planetary orbits, the relationship between statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, and the relationship between symmetries and conservation principles.

For full details, and to sign up for the conference, go here.

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