SydFoP Seminars @ Sydney

A new seminar series [SydFoP: Sydney Foundations of Physics] will be organised by members of the New Agendas project at the University of Sydney, primarily focusing on foundations of physics, but occasionally venturing into other areas. Seminars usually run fortnightly, on Thursdays from 11:30-1:00 in the Muniment Room – Main Quad, Room S401. If you wish to give a talk, or have other questions connected with this series, please contact Matt Farr.


  • TBA.

Previous Seminars.

  • Apr 17, 2013. Huw Price (Cambridge). Retrocausality: What Would It Take?
  • May 2, 2013. Dean Rickles (Sydney). Duality and Physical Content.
  • May 16, 2013. Maria Kon (Sydney). Two Routes to a ‘Timeless’ Barbourian Quantum Gravity.
  • May 23, 2013. Amelia Groom (Sydney). Instants vs Duration in Photography.
  • May 30, 2013. Yemima Ben Menahem (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Symmetry and Causation.
  • June 13, 2013. Matt Farr (Sydney). Initial Conditions and the Direction of Time.
  • June 20, 2013. Gregory Murray (Swinburne University of Technology). Biological Timing.
  • August 1, 2013. Craig Callender (UC San Diego). Lost in (Hilbert) Space.
  • August 29-30, 2013. Time Symmetry conference.
  • September 5, 2013. Eric Cavalcanti (Sydney). No epistemic model can explain the indistinguishability of quantum states.
  • October 15, 2013. Kelvin McQueen (Sydney/ANU). Three tails problems for dynamical collapse theories.
  • December 12, 2013. Philip Goyal (Albany). Informational Approach to Identical Particles in Quantum Theory.
  • March 6, 2014. Feraz Azhar (Sydney). Prediction and typicality in multiverse cosmology.
  • March 13, 2014. Karim Thébault (LMU, Munich). Observables and Succession In Quantum Gravity.
  • March 27, 2014. Jakob Sprickerhof (Leeds). How Quantum Field Theory realizes platitudes about causation


Jakob Sprickerhof (Leeds). How Quantum Field Theory realizes platitudes about causation.

Ever since Bertrand Russell has argued in 1913 that modern physics is incompatible with causation, the truth of this claim has been a controversial issue in philosophy. Opponents of Russell have argued in favor of several versions of process or transference theories, in which causation is nothing but the transfer of some physical property from cause to effect (e.g. Dowe 2000). It is, however, obvious that none of these theories can hold up to the challenge of Quantum Field Theory. On the face of it, they orientate themselves merely on classical physics. In my talk, I will take steps to update current transference theories, in order to make them suitable for Quantum Field Theory. The method I will follow is known as the Canberra Plan or Empirical Analysis (cf. Jackson 1998, Kutach 2010). It consists in first analyzing the concept `causation’ into a list of platitudes, and then assessing whether these platitudes are realized in natural science. Accordingly, I will argue that a substantial conjunction of platitudes about causation is realized by Quantum Field Theory.

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