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Profile: Nicholas Huggett (University of Illinois, Chicago)
  1. 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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  2. Nicholas Huggett, Ch 3: Leibniz.
    Leibniz’s mechanics was, as we shall see, a theory of elastic collisions, not formulated like Huygens’ in terms of rules explicitly covering every possible combination of relative masses and velocities, but in terms of three conservation principles, including (effectively) the conservation of momentum and kinetic energy. That is, he proposed what we now call (ironically enough) ‘Newtonian’ (or ‘classical’) elastic collision theory. While such a theory is, for instance, vital to the foundations of the kinetic theory of gases, it is (...)
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  3. Nicholas Huggett, Ch 1: Motion and Relativity Before Newton.
    Where should we begin our story? Many books start with Newton, but Newton was responding to both Galileo1 and especially (for our purposes) Descartes. But Galileo and Descartes themselves were writing in the context of late Aristotelianism, and so were trained in and critical of that rich school of thought, so if we want to fully understand their work we would need to understand scholastic views on space and motion (see Grant, 1974, Murdoch and Sylla, 1978 and Ariew and Gabbey, (...)
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  4. Nick Huggett, Draft the Past Hypothesis and the Knowledge Asymmetry.
    Why is our knowledge of the past so much more ‘expansive’ (to pick a suitably vague term) than our knowledge of the future, and what is the best way to capture the difference(s) (i.e., in what sense is knowledge of the past more ‘expansive’)? One could reasonably approach these questions by giving necessary conditions for different kinds of knowledge, and showing how some were satisfied by certain propositions about the past, and not by corresponding propositions about the future. I take (...)
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  5. Nicholas Huggett (forthcoming). Zeno's Paradoxes. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (Ed.).
    Almost everything that we know about Zeno of Elea is to be found in the opening pages of Plato's Parmenides. There we learn that Zeno was nearly 40 years old when Socrates was a young man, say 20. Since Socrates was born in 469 BC we can estimate a birth date for Zeno around 490 BC. Beyond this, really all we know is that he was close to Parmenides (Plato reports the gossip that they were lovers when Zeno was young), (...)
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  6. N. Huggett & J. Norton (2014). Weak Discernibility for Quanta, the Right Way. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):39-58.
    Muller and Saunders ([2008]) purport to demonstrate that, surprisingly, bosons and fermions are discernible; this article disputes their arguments, then derives a similar conclusion in a more satisfactory fashion. After briefly explicating their proof and indicating how it escapes earlier indiscernibility results, we note that the observables which Muller and Saunders argue discern particles are (i) non-symmetric in the case of bosons and (ii) trivial multiples of the identity in the case of fermions. Both problems undermine the claim that they (...)
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  7. Nick Huggett, George E. Smith, David Marshall Miller & William Harper (2013). On Newton's Method. Metascience 22 (2):215-246.
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  8. Nick Huggett & Christian Wuthrich (2013). Emergent Spacetime and Empirical (in)Coherence. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):276-285.
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  9. Nick Huggett & Christian Wuthrich (2013). Of Modern Physics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44:276-285.
  10. 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.
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  11. 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 (since relative size is a spatiotemporal (...)
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  12. Nick Huggett (2010). Everywhere and Everywhen: Adventures in Physics and Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    Why does time pass and space does not? Are there just three dimensions? What is a quantum particle? Nick Huggett shows that philosophy -- armed with a power to analyze fundamental concepts and their relationship to the human experience -- has much to say about these profound questions about the universe. In Everywhere and Everywhen, Huggett charts a journey that peers into some of the oldest questions about the world, through some of the newest, such as: What shape is space? (...)
     
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  13. Nick Huggett (2009). Essay Review:Physical RelativityandUnderstanding Space‐Time* Harvey R. Brown , Physical Relativity: Space‐Time Structure From a Dynamical Perspective . Oxford: Oxford University Press (2005), 240 Pp., $75.00 (Cloth). Robert DiSalle , Understanding Space‐Time: The Philosophical Developments of Physics From Newton to Einstein . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2006), 188 Pp., $90.00 (Cloth). [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 76 (3):404-422.
  14. Nick Huggett (2009). Essay Review-HARVEY R. BROWN: Physical Relativity: Space-Time Structure From a Dynamical Perspective. Philosophy of Science 76 (3):404.
     
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  15. Nick Huggett (2009). Robert DiSalle: Understanding Space-Time: The Philosophical Developments of Physics From Newton to Einstein. Philosophy of Science 76 (3):404.
     
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  16. Nick Huggett & Tiziana Vistarini, Entanglement Exchange and Bohmian Mechanics.
    This paper analyses the phenomenon of entanglement exchange in Bohm's pilot wave interpretation of quantum mechanics. The interesting feature of the phenomenon is that systems become entangled without causal interaction; hence it is a useful situation for investigating the unique nature of interaction in Bohmian mechanics. The first two sections introduce, respectively, entanglement exchange in the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics, and the basic principles of Bohmian mechanics. The next section shows that the Bohmian interpretation makes the same experimental predictions (...)
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  17. Nick Huggett, Absolute and Relational Theories of Space and Motion. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Since antiquity, natural philosophers have struggled to comprehend the nature of three tightly interconnected concepts: space, time, and motion. A proper understanding of motion, in particular, has been seen to be crucial for deciding questions about the natures of space and time, and their interconnections. Since the time of Newton and Leibniz, philosophers’ struggles to comprehend these concepts have often appeared to take the form of a dispute between absolute conceptions of space, time and motion, and relational conceptions. This article (...)
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  18. Nick Huggett (2008). Why the Parts of Absolute Space Are Immobile. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):391-407.
    Newton's arguments for the immobility of the parts of absolute space have been claimed to licence several proposals concerning his metaphysics. This paper clarifies Newton, first distinguishing two distinct arguments. Then, it demonstrates, contrary to Nerlich ([2005]), that Newton does not appeal to the identity of indiscernibles, but rather to a view about de re representation. Additionally, DiSalle ([1994]) claims that one argument shows Newton to be an anti-substantivalist. I agree that its premises imply a denial of a kind of (...)
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  19. David Hilbert & Nick Huggett (2006). Groups in Mind. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):765-777.
    We consider the question of the manner of the internalization of the geometry and topology of physical space in the mind, both the mechanism of internalization and precisely what structures are internalized. Though we will not argue for the point here, we agree with the long tradition which holds that an understanding of this issue is crucial for addressing many metaphysical and epistemological questions concerning space.
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  20. Nick Huggett, Can Spacetime Help Settle Any Issues in Modern Philosophy?
    This paper has two goals. (i) I explore the limits of the mathematical theory of spacetime (more generally, differential geometry) as an analytical tool for interpreting early modern thought. While it dramatically clarifies some issues, it can also lead to misunderstandings of some figures, and is a very poor tool indeed for others - Leibniz in particular. (ii) I will show how to blunt a very influential argument against a relational conception of spacetime - the view that the properties and (...)
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  21. Nick Huggett (2006). The Regularity Account of Relational Spacetime. Mind 115 (457):41--73.
    A version of relationism that takes spatiotemporal structures—spatial geometry and a standard of inertia—to supervene on the history of relations between bodies is described and defended. The account is used to explain how the relationist should construe models of Newtonian mechanics in which absolute acceleration manifestly does not supervene on the relations; Ptolemaic and Copernican models for example. The account introduces a new way in which a Lewis-style ‘best system’ might capture regularities in a broadly Humean world; a defence is (...)
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  22. Nick Huggett & David R. Hilbert (2006). Groups in Mind. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):765-77.
    We consider the question of the manner of the internalization of the geometry and topology of physical space in the mind, both the mechanism of internalization and precisely what structures are internalized. Though we will not argue for the point here, we agree with the long tradition which holds that an understanding of this issue is crucial for addressing many metaphysical and epistemological questions concerning space.
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  23. Nick Huggett (2004). Cartesian Spacetime: Descartes' Physics and the Relational Theory of Space and Motion. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (1):189-193.
  24. Nick Huggett (2003). Mirror Symmetry: What is It for Relational Space to Be Orientable? In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. 281.
    As Pooley (2001) explains, the challenge of giving a relational account of orientability (and topology more generally) is not an easy one. This paper criticizes Pooley's and other proposals, raises a range of problems for the project, and then proposes a novel way for the relationist to understand not only topology, but also the geometry of space. This proposal is the `regularity account' since it claims that geometry and topology supervene on the regular ways in which relations evolve.
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  25. Nick Huggett, Quarticles and the Identity of Indiscernibles.
    A number of commentators (especially French and Redhead, 1988, and Butterfield, 1993) have investigated the status of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles (PII) for bosons and fermions. In this paper I extend that investigation to the full range of quantum particles of any allowed kind of statistics -- `quarticles', that is. I show that for any kind (except bosons and fermions) there are states in which PII is violated by every pair of particles, some pairs and not others, (...)
     
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  26. Nick Huggett (2002). Review of David Z. Albert, Time and Chance. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2002 (2).
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  27. Craig Callender & Nicholas Huggett, Physics Meets Philosophy at the Planck Scale.
    This is the table of contents and first chapter of Physics Meets Philosophy at the Planck Scale (Cambridge University Press, 2001), edited by Craig Callender and Nick Huggett. The chapter discusses the question of why there should be a theory of quantum gravity. We tackle arguments that purport to show that the gravitational field *must* be quantized. We then introduce various programs in quantum gravity and discuss areas where quantum gravity and philosophy seem to have something to say to each (...)
     
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  28. Craig Callender & Nick Huggett (2001). Introduction. In Craig Callender & Nick Huggett (eds.), Physics Meets Philosophy at the Panck Scale. Cambridge University Press.
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  29. Nick Huggett & Craig Callender (2001). Why Quantize Gravity (or Any Other Field for That Matter)? Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S382-.
    The quantum gravity program seeks a theory that handles quantum matter fields and gravity consistently. But is such a theory really required and must it involve quantizing the gravitational field? We give reasons for a positive answer to the first question, but dispute a widespread contention that it is inconsistent for the gravitational field to be classical while matter is quantum. In particular, we show how a popular argument (Eppley and Hannah 1997) falls short of a no-go theorem, and discuss (...)
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  30. N. Huggett (2000). Philosophical Foundations of Quantum Field Theory. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (4):617-637.
    Much attention has been directed to the philosophical implications of quantum field theory (QFT) in recent years; this paper attempts a survey in low-technical terms. First the relations of QFT to other kinds of theory, classical and quantum, particle and field, are discussed. Then various formulations of QFT are introduced, along with related interpretations. Finally a review is made of some of the most interesting foundational problems.
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  31. Nick Huggett (2000). Local Philosophies of Science. Philosophy of Science 67 (3):137.
    Since the collapse of the 'received view' consensus in the late 1960s, the question of scientific realism has been a major preoccupation of philosophers of science. This paper sketches the history of this debate, which grew from developments in the philosophy of language, but eventually took on an autonomous existence. More recently, the debate has tended towards more 'local' considerations of particular scientific episodes as a way of getting purchase on the issues. The paper reviews two such approaches, Fine's and (...)
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  32. Nick Huggett (2000). Reflections on Parity Nonconservation. Philosophy of Science 67 (2):219-241.
    This paper considers the implications for the relational-substantival debate of observations of parity nonconservation in weak interactions, a much neglected topic. It is argued that 'geometric proofs' of absolute space, first proposed by Kant (1768), fail, but that parity violating laws allow 'mechanical proofs', like Newton's laws. Parity violating laws are explained and arguments analogous to those of Newton's Scholium are constructed to show that they require absolute spacetime structure--namely, an orientation--as Newtonian mechanics requires affine structure. Finally, it is considered (...)
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  33. Nick Huggett, Newton Da Costa & Steven French (2000). Metaphilosophy and the History of the Philosophy of Science-The Structure of Scientific Theories Thirty Years On-Models, Theories, and Structures: Thirty Years On. Philosophy of Science 67 (3):S116.
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  34. Nick Huggett, Steven French & Frederick Suppe (2000). Metaphilosophy and the History of the Philosophy of Science-The Structure of Scientific Theories Thirty Years On-Understanding Scientific Theories: An Assessment of Developments, 1969-1998. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 67 (3).
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  35. N. Huggett (1999). On the Significance of Permutation Symmetry. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (3):325-347.
    There has been considerable recent philosophical debate over the implications of many particle quantum mechanics for the metaphysics of individuality (cf. Huggett [1997]). In this paper I look at things from a rather different perspective: by investigating the significance of permutation symmetry. I consider how various philosophical positions link up to the physical postulate of the indistinguishability of permuted states-permutation invariance-and how this postulate is used to explain quantum statistics. I offer an explanation of the statistics that relies on the (...)
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  36. Nick Huggett (1999). Atomic Metaphysics. Journal of Philosophy 96 (1):5-24.
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  37. Nick Huggett (1999). Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (4):1093-1096.
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  38. Nick Huggett (1999). Theories of Space From Zeno to Einstein. Mit Press.
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  39. Nick Huggett (1999). Why Manifold Substantivalism is Probably Not a Consequence of Classical Mechanics. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (1):17 – 34.
    This paper develops and defends three related forms of relationism about spacetime against attacks by contemporary substantivalists. It clarifies Newton's globes argument to show that it does not bear on relations that fail to determine geodesic motions, since the inertial effects on which Newton relies are not simply correlated with affine structure, but must be understood in dynamical terms. It develops remarks by Sklar and van Fraassen into relational versions of Newtonian mechanics, and argues that Earman does not show them (...)
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  40. Nick Huggett (1998). The Philosophy of Science. Teaching Philosophy 21 (4):416-419.
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  41. Nick Huggett (1997). Identity, Quantum Mechanics and Common Sense. The Monist 80 (1):118-130.
  42. Nick Huggett (1996). Quentin Smith and L. Nathan Oaklander, Time, Change and Freedom: Introduction to Metaphysics Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 16 (4):297-298.
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  43. Nick Huggett & Robert Weingard (1996). Critical Review: Paul Teller's Interpretive Introduction to Quantum Field Theory. Philosophy of Science 63 (2):302.
     
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  44. Nick Huggett & Robert Weingard (1996). Exposing the Machinery of Infinite Renormalization. Philosophy of Science 63 (3):167.
    We explicate recent results that shed light on the obscure and troubling problem of renormalization in Quantum Field Theory (QFT). We review how divergent predictions arise in perturbative QFT, and how they are renormalized into finite quantities. Commentators have worried that there is no foundation for renormalization, and hence that QFTs are not logically coherent. We dispute this by describing the physics behind liquid diffusion, in which exactly analogous divergences are found and renormalized. But now we are looking at a (...)
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  45. Nick Huggett & Robert Weingard (1996). Book Review:Interpretive Introduction to Quantum Field Theory Paul Teller. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 63 (2):302-.
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  46. N. Huggett (1995). Sklar, Lawrence, Philosophy of Physics. International Studies in Philosophy 27:19-19.
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  47. Nick Huggett (1995). Philosophy of Physics. International Studies in Philosophy 27 (4):139-140.
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  48. Nick Huggett & Robert Weingard (1995). The Renormalisation Group and Effective Field Theories. Synthese 102 (1):171 - 194.
    Much apprehension has been expressed by philosophers about the method of renormalisation in quantum field theory, as it apparently requires illegitimate procedure of infinite cancellation. This has lead to various speculations, in particular in Teller (1989). We examine Teller's discussion of perturbative renormalisation of quantum fields, and show why it is inadequate. To really approach the matter one needs to understand the ideas and results of the renormalisation group, so we give a simple but comprehensive account of this topic. With (...)
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  49. Nick Huggett (1994). What Are Quanta, and Why Does It Matter? PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:69 - 76.
    I criticize a certain view of the 'quanta' of quantum mechanics that sees them as fundamentally non-atomistic and fundamentally significant for our understanding of quantum fields. In particular, I have in mind work by Redhead and Teller (1991, 1992 and Teller 1990). I prove that classical particles do not have the rather strong flavour of identity often associated with them; permuting positions and momenta does not produce distinct states. I show that even the label free excitation formalism is compatible with (...)
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