Boundaries and Reality: 2020 Annual Philosophy of Physics Conference
22 June 2020 - 24 June 2020
Boundaries between spacetime regions, boundaries between interacting physical systems, and relations across boundaries, play an important role in contemporary physics. Boundary degrees of freedom, in particular, have recently raised much interest in the literature on general relativity, gauge field theories and black holes. The appearance of these degrees of freedom, required to preserve gauge invariance, raises important conceptual questions. What is the metaphysical status of the corresponding observables? Should they be considered an artificial redundancy, or genuine real physical variables? What do they tell us about the nature of gauge invariance?
A boundary determines a partition of a system. In quantum physics, the partition between the system and the observing apparatus can be taken as a basic element of the theory. This is particularly evident in information-based interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as relational quantum mechanics or the more recent q-bism, but can also be found for instance in Everett’s relative states. In all these cases, physical observables are always associated with boundaries.
This conference will bring together experts from different directions of investigation, to reflect on the common relational aspect underlying observables defined by boundaries and partitions. The discussion will focus on the philosophical and foundational consequences of different positions on the nature of these observables, and, more generally, on the nature of gauge itself. We would like to discuss how to think about a metaphysics based on relations in light of this recent progress within physics and different philosophical frameworks, in particular structural realism.
The conference will be followed by the 20th annual graduate student conference on the Philosophy of Logic, Mathematics, and Physics. This event provides a unique opportunity for Canadian and international graduate students to present their work. The participants of the conference are encouraged to stay for this event and contribute to the discussions, providing feedback and mentoring for the participating students.
Giovanni Bonocore, University of Florence
Flaminia Giacomini, Perimeter Institute
Marie Gueguen, University of Pittsburgh
James Ladyman, University of Bristol
Aldo Riello, Perimeter Institute
Carlo Rovelli, Aix-Marseille Université
David Schroeren, Princeton University
David Wallace, University of Pittsburgh
James Weatherall, University of California, Irvine (to deliver keynote at LMP graduate conference)
Conference registration will be opened on March 6, 2020.
For individuals traveling to London for the conference, we offer the following suggestions & general information:
Hotels close to campus include:
- Windermere Manor
- StationPark All Suite Hotel
- Holiday Inn Express: London Downtown
- Hilton London Ontario
- Residence Inn London Downtown
Our local airport code is YXU (London, Ontario, Canada). It can sometimes be less expensive to fly into either Toronto or Detroit, then take an airport shuttle van (Robert Q) or bus (Greyhound) into London.
The London Transit Commission has several bus routes (2, 6, 10, 13, 27, 31, 33 and 34) that drop off somewhere on or near the university. Buses tend to run every 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the line, and day of the week). Visit the London Transit Commission website for bus routes and estimated bus arrival times.
Conference Location & Parking
The conference will take place at Western University in the Western Interdisciplinary Research Building (WIRB), Room 3000. The WIRB is located on Perth Drive, near the Labatt Visual Arts Building. A campus map (depicting visitor parking in blue) is available here. For those of you who will be driving to campus, the closest visitor parking spaces are the pay & display meters located between the Visual Arts Building & the North Campus Building. Information on parking rates can be found here.
Image Credit: Planet Science Fiction