History & Philosophy of Physics

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) is recognized as a world leader in general history and philosophy of science. The department also has excellent resources for graduate study in the philosophy and history of physics.

The department is able to offer a generous package of financial support to most successful applicants for admission and has an excellent record of placing its PhD graduates in academic positions.

Participating Faculty

Marian J.R. Gilton (HPS) History and philosophy of particle physics; classical and quantum field theory; early modern physics; fundamentality and explanation in physics.

John D. Norton (HPS) History and philosophy of modern physics: the scientific work of Albert Einstein, space, time and general relativity, thermal and statistical physics.

David Wallace (Mellon Professor of HPS and Philosophy) Quantum mechanics, especially the Everett intepretation, quantum field theory, statistical mechanics, general relativity, symmetry and gauge theory.

Robert Batterman (Philosophy) Foundations of statistical physics, dynamical systems and chaos, asymptotic reasoning, mathematical idealizations, the philosophy of applied mathematics, explanation, reduction, and emergence.

Mark Wilson (Philosophy) History and foundations of classical physics.

Emeritus Faculty

John Earman (HPS, emeritus) Philosophy of space and time, foundations of quantum field theory.

Recent Dissertation Projects

Nora Boyd, “Scientific Progress at the Boundaries of Experience”

Marina Baldissera Pacchetti, "Spatiotemporal Scales in Scientific Modeling: Identifying Target Systems”

Michael Miller, “The Structure and Interpretation of Quantum Field Theory”

Julia Bursten, “Surfaces, Scales, and Synthesis: Scientific Reasoning at the Nanoscale”

Eric Hatleback, “Chimera of the Cosmos”

Balazs Gyenis, “Well Posedness and Physical Possibility”

Bryan Hepburn, “Equilibrium and Explanation in 18th Century Mechanics”

Chris Wuethrich, “Approaching the Planck Scale from a Generally Relativistic Point of View: A Philosophical Appraisal of Loop Quantum Gravity”

Bihui Li, "Moving Beyond 'Theory T': The Case of Quantum Field Theory".

Elay Shech, "Assume a Spherical Cow: Studies on Representation and Idealizations".

Thomas Pashby,"Time and the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics".

Bryan Roberts, “Time, Symmetry and Structure: Studies in the Foundations of Quantum Theory”.

Doreen Fraser, “Haag's theorem and the interpretation of quantum field theories with interaction”.

Armond Duwell, “Foundations of Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computation Theory”.

Chris Smeenk, “Approaching the Absolute Zero of Time: Theory Development in Early Universe Cosmology”.