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Profile: Christian Wüthrich (University of Geneva)
  1.  64
    Nick Huggett & Christian Wüthrich (2013). Emergent Spacetime and Empirical Coherence. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):276-285.
    Numerous approaches to a quantum theory of gravity posit fundamental ontologies that exclude spacetime, either partially or wholly. This situation raises deep questions about how such theories could relate to the empirical realm, since arguably only entities localized in spacetime can ever be observed. Are such entities even possible in a theory without fundamental spacetime? How might they be derived, formally speaking? Moreover, since by assumption the fundamental entities can't be smaller than the derived and so can't 'compose' them in (...)
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  2. Vincent Lam & Christian Wüthrich (2014). No Categorial Support for Radical Ontic Structural Realism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3):axt053.
    Radical ontic structural realism (ROSR) asserts an ontological commitment to ‘free-standing’ physical structures understood solely in terms of fundamental relations, without any recourse to relata that stand in these relations. Bain ([2013], pp.1621–35) has recently defended ROSR against the common charge of incoherence by arguing that a reformulation of fundamental physical theories in category-theoretic terms (rather than the usual set-theoretic ones) offers a coherent and precise articulation of the commitments accepted by ROSR. In this essay, we argue that category theory (...)
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  3. John Earman, Christopher Smeenk & Christian Wüthrich (2009). Do the Laws of Physics Forbid the Operation of Time Machines? Synthese 169 (1):91 - 124.
    We address the question of whether it is possible to operate a time machine by manipulating matter and energy so as to manufacture closed timelike curves. This question has received a great deal of attention in the physics literature, with attempts to prove no-go theorems based on classical general relativity and various hybrid theories serving as steps along the way towards quantum gravity. Despite the effort put into these no-go theorems, there is no widely accepted definition of a time machine. (...)
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  4.  53
    Christian Wüthrich (2009). Challenging the Spacetime Structuralist. Philosophy of Science 76 (5):1039-1051.
    Structural realist interpretations of generally relativistic spacetimes have recently come to enjoy a remarkable degree of popularity among philosophers. I present a challenge to these structuralist interpretations that arises from considering cosmological models in general relativity. As a consequence of their high degree of spacetime symmetry, these models resist a structuralist interpretation. I then evaluate the various strategies available to the structuralist to react to this challenge. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, 9500 Gilman Drive, 0119, (...)
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  5.  42
    Christian Wüthrich (2012). The Structure of Causal Sets. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (2):223-241.
    More often than not, recently popular structuralist interpretations of physical theories leave the central concept of a structure insufficiently precisified. The incipient causal sets approach to quantum gravity offers a paradigmatic case of a physical theory predestined to be interpreted in structuralist terms. It is shown how employing structuralism lends itself to a natural interpretation of the physical meaning of causal set theory. Conversely, the conceptually exceptionally clear case of causal sets is used as a foil to illustrate how a (...)
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  6. Chris Smeenk & Christian Wuthrich (2011). Time Travel and Time Machines. In Craig Callender (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time. Oxford University Press
    This paper is an enquiry into the logical, metaphysical, and physical possibility of time travel understood in the sense of the existence of closed worldlines that can be traced out by physical objects. We argue that none of the purported paradoxes rule out time travel either on grounds of logic or metaphysics. More relevantly, modern spacetime theories such as general relativity seem to permit models that feature closed worldlines. We discuss, in the context of Gödel's infamous argument for the ideality (...)
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  7.  12
    Nick Huggett, Tiziana Vistarini & Christian Wüthrich (2013). Time in Quantum Gravity. .
    Quantum gravity--the marriage of quantum physics with general relativity--is bound to contain deep and important lessons for the nature of physical time. Some of these lessons shall be canvassed here, particularly as they arise from quantum general relativity and string theory and related approaches. Of particular interest is the question of which of the intuitive aspects of time will turn out to be fundamental, and which 'emergent' in some sense.
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  8.  40
    Christian Wuthrich (2009). Challenging the Spacetime Structuralist. Philosophy of Science 76 (5):1039-1051.
    Structural realist interpretations of generally relativistic spacetimes have recently come to enjoy a remarkable degree of popularity among philosophers. I present a challenge to these structuralist interpretations that arises from considering cosmological models in general relativity. As a consequence of their high degree of spacetime symmetry, these models resist a structuralist interpretation. I then evaluate the various strategies available to the structuralist to react to this challenge.
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  9.  6
    Vincent Lam & Christian Wüthrich (2015). No Categorial Support for Radical Ontic Structural Realism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3):605-634.
    Radical ontic structural realism asserts an ontological commitment to ‘free-standing’ physical structures understood solely in terms of fundamental relations, without any recourse to relata that stand in these relations. Bain has recently defended ROSR against the common charge of incoherence by arguing that a reformulation of fundamental physical theories in category-theoretic terms offers a coherent and precise articulation of the commitments accepted by ROSR. In this essay, we argue that category theory does not offer a more hospitable environment to ROSR (...)
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  10. Christian Wuthrich (2012). Demarcating Presentism. In Henk de Regt, Samir Okasha & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), EPSA Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009. Springer 441--450.
    This paper argues that recent arguments to the effect that the debate between presentism and eternalism lacks any metaphysical substance ultimately fail, although important lessons can be gleaned from them in how to formulate a non-vacuous version of presentism. It suggests that presentism can best be characterized in the context of spacetime theories. The resulting position is an ersatzist version of presentism that admits merely non-present entities as abstracta deprived of physical existence. Ersatzist presentism both escapes the charges of triviality (...)
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  11.  47
    Christian Wuthrich (2005). To Quantize or Not to Quantize: Fact and Folklore in Quantum Gravity. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):777-788.
    Does the need to find a quantum theory of gravity imply that the gravitational field must be quantized? Physicists working in quantum gravity routinely assume an affirmative answer, often without being aware of the metaphysical commitments that tend to underlie this assumption. The ambition of this article is to probe these commitments and to analyze some recently adduced arguments pertinent to the issue of quantization. While there exist good reasons to quantize gravity, as this analysis will show, alternative approaches to (...)
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  12.  86
    Christian Wuthrich (forthcoming). The Fate of Presentism in Modern Physics. In Roberto Ciuni, Kristie Miller & Giuliano Torrengo (eds.), New Papers on the Present--Focus on Presentism. Philosophia Verlag
    Defining ‘presentism’ in a way that saves it from being trivially false yet metaphysically substantively distinct from eternalism is no mean feat, as the first part of this collection testifies. In Wuthrich (forthcoming), I have offered an attempt to achieve just this, arguing that this is best done in the context of modern spacetime theories. Here, I shall refrain from going through all the motions again and simply state the characterization of an ersatzist version of presentism as it has emerged (...)
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  13.  64
    Christian Wuthrich (2010). No Presentism in Quantum Gravity. In Vesselin Petkov (ed.), Space, Time, and Spacetime: Physical and Philosophical Implications of Minkowski's Unification of Space and Time. Springer
    This essay offers a reaction to the recent resurgence of presentism in the philosophy of time. What is of particular interest in this renaissance is that a number of recent arguments supporting presentism are crafted in an untypically naturalistic vein, breathing new life into a metaphysics of time with a bad track record of co-habitation with modern physics. Against this trend, the present essay argues that the pressure on presentism exerted by special relativity and its core lesson of Lorentz symmetry (...)
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  14.  82
    Christian Wüthrich (2009). Do the Laws of Physics Forbid the Operation of Time Machines? Synthese 169 (1):91 - 124.
    We address the question of whether it is possible to operate a time machine by manipulating matter and energy so as to manufacture closed timelike curves. This question has received a great deal of attention in the physics literature, with attempts to prove no- go theorems based on classical general relativity and various hybrid theories serving as steps along the way towards quantum gravity. Despite the effort put into these no-go theorems, there is no widely accepted definition of a time (...)
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  15.  67
    John Earman, Christopher Smeenk & Christian Wuthrich, Take a Ride on a Time Machine.
    We discuss the possibility to build and operate a time machine, a device that produces closed timelike curves (CTCs). We specify the spacetime structure needed to implement a time machine and assess attempted no-go results against time machines in classical general relativity, semi-classical quantum gravity, quantum field theory on curved spacetime, and in Euclidean quantum gravity. Such no-go theorems for time machines would show that, under physically reasonable conditions, CTCs cannot develop in spacetimes initially free of these pathologies. Our review (...)
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  16.  5
    Christian Wuthrich, Raiders of the Lost Spacetime.
    Spacetime as we know and love it is lost in most approaches to quantum gravity. For many of these approaches, as inchoate and incomplete as they may be, one of the main challenges is to relate what they take to be the fundamental non-spatiotemporal structure of the world back to the classical spacetime of GR. The present essay investigates how spacetime is lost and how it may be regained in one major approach to quantum gravity, loop quantum gravity.
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  17.  47
    Christian Wüthrich & Craig Callender (forthcoming). What Becomes of a Causal Set? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv040.
    Unlike the relativity theory it seeks to replace, causal set theory has been interpreted to leave space for a substantive, though perhaps ‘localized’, form of ‘becoming’. The possibility of fundamental becoming is nourished by the fact that the analogue of Stein’s theorem from special relativity does not hold in CST. Despite this, we find that in many ways, the debate concerning becoming parallels the well-rehearsed lines it follows in the domain of relativity. We present, however, some new twists and challenges. (...)
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  18.  83
    Christian Wuthrich & Nick Huggett, Is Science Without Spacetime Possible?
    A central concern of philosophy of science is understanding how the theoretical connects to the empirical. This is not the place to propose another theory describing, or prescribing, this connection; let alone to consider how such a theory might, in turn, relate to how science actually works. At a high level of generality, however, presumably the link is established by observing (in some sense) a material ‘something’, in some determinate state or other, at some spatial location at some moment in (...)
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  19.  37
    Nick Huggett & Christian Wüthrich (2013). The Emergence of Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):273-275.
    This is the introduction to the special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics on the emergence of spacetime in quantum theories of spacetime.
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  20.  57
    Christian Wüthrich (2005). To Quantize or Not to Quantize: Fact and Folklore in Quantum Gravity. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):777-788.
    Does the need to find a quantum theory of gravity imply that the gravitational field must be quantized? Physicists working in quantum gravity routinely assume an affirmative answer, often without being aware of the metaphysical commitments that tend to underlie this assumption. The ambition of this article is to probe these commitments and to analyze some recently adduced physical—as opposed to metaphysical—arguments pertinent to the issue of quantization. While there exist good reasons to quantize gravity, as this analysis will show, (...)
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  21.  10
    Christian Wüthrich (2011). Can the World Be Shown to Be Indeterministic After All? In Claus Beisbart & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), Probabilities in Physics. Oxford University Press 365--389.
    This essay considers and evaluates recent results and arguments from classical chaotic systems theory and non-relativistic quantum mechanics that pertain to the question of whether our world is deterministic or indeterministic. While the classical results are inconclusive, quantum mechanics is often assumed to establish indeterminism insofar as the measurement process involves an ineliminable stochastic element, even though the dynamics between two measurements is considered fully deterministic. While this latter claim concerning the Schrödinger evolution must be qualified, the former fully depends (...)
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  22.  45
    Nick Huggett & Christian Wuthrich, Is Science Without Spacetime Possible?
    Numerous approaches to a quantum theory of gravity posit fundamental ontologies that exclude spacetime, either partially or wholly. This situation raises deep questions about how such theories could relate to the empirical realm, since arguably only entities localized in spacetime can ever be observed. Are such entities even possible in a theory without fundamental spacetime? How might they be derived, formally speaking? Moreover, since the fundamental entities can't be smaller than the derived by assumption and so can't 'compose' them in (...)
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  23.  58
    Christian Wüthrich (2012). A Journey Surveying the Land of Space, Time and Motion. Metascience 21 (2):485-488.
    A journey surveying the land of space, time and motion Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9575-8 Authors Christian Wüthrich, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0119, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
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  24.  28
    Nick Huggett & Christian Wuthrich (2013). Of Modern Physics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44:276-285.
  25.  8
    Christian Wuthrich, In Search of Lost Spacetime: Philosophical Issues Arising in Quantum Gravity.
    This paper issues a call to arms and seeks to entice the reader with some of the most captivating philosophical puzzles arising in quantum gravity. The analysis will be prefaced, in Section 1, by general considerations concerning the need for finding a quantum theory of gravity and the methods used in the pursuit of this goal. After mapping the field in Section 2, loop quantum gravity is introduced as an important competitor and particularly rich source of philosophical trouble in Section (...)
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  26.  58
    Christian Wüthrich, Hajnal Andréka & István Németi, A Twist in the Geometry of Rotating Black Holes: Seeking the Cause of Acausality.
    We investigate Kerr–Newman black holes in which a rotating charged ring-shaped singularity induces a region which contains closed timelike curves (CTCs). Contrary to popular belief, it turns out that the time orientation of the CTC is oppo- site to the direction in which the singularity or the ergosphere rotates. In this sense, CTCs “counter-rotate” against the rotating black hole. We have similar results for all spacetimes sufficiently familiar to us in which rotation induces CTCs. This motivates our conjecture that perhaps (...)
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  27.  5
    Christian Wuthrich, Putnam Looks at Quantum Mechanics.
    Hilary Putnam has argued that from a realist perspective, quantum mechanics stands in need of an interpretation. Ironically, this hypothesis may appear vulnerable against arguments drawing on Putnam's own work. Nancy Cartwright has urged that his 1962 essay on the meaning of theoretical terms suggests that quantum mechanics needs no interpretation and thus stands in tension with his claim of three years later. She furthermore contends that this conflict should be resolved in favour of the earlier work, as quantum mechanics, (...)
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  28.  5
    Christian Wüthrich (2015). A Quantum-Information-Theoretic Complement to a General-Relativistic Implementation of a Beyond-Turing Computer. Synthese 192 (7):1989-2008.
    There exists a growing literature on the so-called physical Church-Turing thesis in a relativistic spacetime setting. The physical Church-Turing thesis is the conjecture that no computing device that is physically realizable can exceed the computational barriers of a Turing machine. By suggesting a concrete implementation of a beyond-Turing computer in a spacetime setting, Istvan Nemeti and Gyula David have shown how an appreciation of the physical Church-Turing thesis necessitates the confluence of mathematical, computational, physical, and indeed cosmological ideas. In this (...)
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  29.  28
    Christian Wüthrich (2004). Helena Eilstein (Ed.), A Collection of Polish Works on Philosophical Problems of Time and Spacetime. Erkenntnis 60 (2):265-270.
  30.  21
    Christian Wüthrich, Rob Clifton & Brian Hepburn (2002). Generic Incomparability of Infinite-Dimensional Entangled States. Physics Letters A 303:121-124.
    In support of a recent conjecture by Nielsen (1999), we prove that the phenomena of ‘incomparable entanglement’— whereby, neither member of a pair of pure entangled states can be transformed into the other via local operations and classical communication (LOCC)—is a generic feature when the states at issue live in an infinite-dimensional Hilbert space.  2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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  31.  1
    Nick Bostrom & Christian Wuthrich (2004). Book Reviews-Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy. Philosophy of Science 71 (2):230-231.
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  32. Christian Wüthrich (2002). A Collection of Polish Works on Philosophical Problems of Time and Spacetime. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  33. Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wüthrich (eds.) (2015). Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Brill | Rodopi.
    The book _Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics_ offers various perspectives on the relation and mutual influence between modern physical theories and analytic metaphysics.
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  34. Christian Wüthrich (2014). Tian Yu Cao.From Current Algebra to Quantum Chromodynamics: A Case for Structural Realism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. X+308. $85.00. [REVIEW] Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 4 (2):368-371.
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