Category Archives: Philosophy

Quantum Field Theory and the Limits of Knowledge

Last week I had the pleasure of giving a seminar to the philosophy department at the University of North Carolina. Ordinarily I would have talked about the only really philosophical work I’ve done recently (or arguably ever), deriving the Born … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 51 Comments

The Reality of Time

The idea that time isn’t “real” is an ancient one — if we’re allowed to refer to things as “ancient” under the supposition that time isn’t real. You will recall the humorous debate we had at our Setting Time Aright … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science, Time | 79 Comments

Life Is the Flame of a Candle

Last October I was privileged to be awarded the Emperor Has No Clothes award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The physical trophy consists of the dashing statuette here on the right, presumably the titular Emperor. It’s made by the … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Philosophy, Religion, Science | 79 Comments

Guest Post: Chip Sebens on the Many-Interacting-Worlds Approach to Quantum Mechanics

I got to know Charles “Chip” Sebens back in 2012, when he emailed to ask if he could spend the summer at Caltech. Chip is a graduate student in the philosophy department at the University of Michigan, and like many … Continue reading

Posted in Guest Post, Philosophy, Science | 55 Comments

Does Santa Exist?

There’s a claim out there — one that is about 95% true, as it turns out — that if you pick a Wikipedia article at random, then click on the first (non-trivial) link, and keep clicking on the first link … Continue reading

Posted in Humor, Philosophy, Words | 15 Comments

Ten Questions for the Philosophy of Cosmology

Last week I spent an enjoyable few days in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, for a conference on the Philosophy of Cosmology. The slides for all the talks are now online; videos aren’t up yet, but I understand they … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 64 Comments

Should Scientific Progress Affect Religious Beliefs?

Sure it should. Here’s a new video from Closer to Truth, in which I’m chatting briefly with Robert Lawrence Kuhn about the question. “New” in the sense that it was just put on YouTube, although we taped it back in … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion | 65 Comments

Quantum Sleeping Beauty and the Multiverse

Hidden in my papers with Chip Sebens on Everettian quantum mechanics is a simple solution to a fun philosophical problem with potential implications for cosmology: the quantum version of the Sleeping Beauty Problem. It’s a classic example of self-locating uncertainty: … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 245 Comments

Why Probability in Quantum Mechanics is Given by the Wave Function Squared

One of the most profound and mysterious principles in all of physics is the Born Rule, named after Max Born. In quantum mechanics, particles don’t have classical properties like “position” or “momentum”; rather, there is a wave function that assigns … Continue reading

Posted in arxiv, Philosophy, Science | 96 Comments

Why the Many-Worlds Formulation of Quantum Mechanics Is Probably Correct

I have often talked about the Many-Worlds or Everett approach to quantum mechanics — here’s an explanatory video, an excerpt from From Eternity to Here, and slides from a talk. But I don’t think I’ve ever explained as persuasively as … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 237 Comments