11 Feb: Emily Adlam, “A Tale of Two Anachronisms”

This term sees the start of the FraMEPhys visiting speaker series, and our first speaker was Dr Emily Adlam (BRCP, Leipzig) who spoke on Monday 11th Feb.

Emily’s title was ‘A Tale of Two Anachronisms’, and her abstract was:

“Scientific reasoning is constrained not only by the outcomes of experiments, but also by the history of human thought and our own place in it. As a result, even our best theoretical models often incorporate features which are present more as the result of historical accident than as the endpoint of a process of evidence-based deliberation, and it is sometimes possible to make considerable progress by identifying and eliminating such features. In this talk, I will identify two features of current thought about quantum physics which may be anachronisms of this kind. I will briefly discuss their history and then raise some arguments against them. Both of these features have previously been recognized as problematic by parts of the physics community, but I argue that this recognition is not sufficiently widespread and that both features are actively limiting progress in the field of quantum foundations.”

For those wondering, the anachronisms were: reliance on objective chance, and the avoidance of action that is non-local in time.

The remaining dates in the series are:

25 Feb: Antonio Vassallo (Barcelona)
11 Mar: Laura Felline (Roma Tre)
6 May: Matt Farr (Cambridge)
20 May: Patricia Palacios (Salzburg)
3 June: Mark Pexton (Durham)

— Alastair Wilson

Metaphysics of Entanglement in Urbino

A metaphysician finding inspiration in a metaphysical poet.

On January 22 2019, Al Wilson was in Urbino, Italy to speak at a workshop on the metaphysics of entanglement – the 2021 case study for FraMEPhys. The workshop focused on a new paper by Claudio Calosi and Matteo Morganti, arguing that entangled quantum systems are mutually metaphysically dependent in Kit Fine’s sense of essential dependence. In short, they were arguing that part of what it is to be a particular entangled particle is to be entangled with its partner – and vice versa.

Al’s comments focused on the notion of dependence at work – making use of essential dependence brings some apparently problematic consequences, such as no system being able to survive becoming entangled with (or disentangled from) any other system. He also argued that an underlying monist interpretation of the quantum state continues to offer a more elegant overall explanation of entanglement than the coherentist view. See the slides for more details:

Apparently quantum entanglement is a topic of vital local interest, because a TV crew was present to record proceedings. You can watch a short report on the workshop on RAI TV, starting around minute 16.00.

— Alastair Wilson