Hilary Greaves' home page
I am a Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy, at Somerville College in the University of Oxford.
Most of my research is in the philosophy of physics.
I'm also a caver and explorer.
|Email: ||hgreaves [at] wildcats [dot] com|
|Mailing address:||Somerville College|
Oxford OX2 6HD
Email is the quickest and most reliable way to reach me.
Websites from past courses:
730:225. Introduction to philosophy of science, Fall 2006.
730:103. Introduction to philosophy, Summer 2006.
My research is primarily in philosophy of physics.
Much of my recent research has concerned spacetime symmetries, with a particular focus on the CPT theorem. I have been exploring a little-known classical analogue of the CPT theorem, originally due to J S Bell. This classical result interests me because (i) it shows that, contrary to the general impression, there is nothing essentially quantum-theoretic about the CPT theorem (the CPT result follows rather trivially from Lorentz invariance, and hence applies can be derived in classical as well as in quantum Lorentz-invariant field theory); (ii) it allows us to pose and answer basic conceptual puzzles concerning the relationship between CPT symmetry and spacetime structure, in a framework that is much more conceptually and mathematically straightforward than that of quantum field theory.
Right at the moment I am puzzling about several more or less unrelated issues: the empirical significance of gauge symmetry, how to extend the classical CPT theorem to classical spinor field theories, and (most vaguely) whether there is a coherent metaphysical position in the vicinity of 'structuralism' that dissolves or sheds new light on foundational issues in physics.
Previously, I worked on the interpretation of quantum mechanics: specifically, the decision-theoretic approach to probability in the Everett (many-worlds) interpretation. One of the main prima facie difficulties with this interpretation is how, since (in some sense) all possible measurement outcomes actually occur, we can make any sense of the probabilistic language in which predictions of quantum mechanics are couched. For decades this problem seemed completely intractable, and has led many to abandon the interpretation. A conceptual breakthrough came in 1999, when David Deutsch suggested that one can understand Everettian probability in terms of rational decision-making. Deutsch's approach has been developed and clarified in several papers by (in particular) David Wallace; my project in this area has been to develop an alternative interpretation of the decision-theoretic programme, freeing it from one of its controversial philosophical assumptions (`subjective uncertainty'). (My Compass survey article provides a non-technical overview of the decision-theoretic programme.)
Empirical consequences of symmetries. With David Wallace. Work in progress.
A classical PT theorem. Work in progress.
In search of spacetime structuralism. Draft (pdf)
Towards a geometrical understanding of the CPT theorem (2008). To appear in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. (pdf)
Everett and Evidence. With Wayne Myrvold. Draft (pdf)
Time reversal in classical electromagnetism (2007). With Frank Arntzenius. To appear in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. (pdf)
On the Everettian epistemic problem (March 2007). In Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38(1), March 2007, pp.120-152. Abstract Preprint (pdf)
Probability in the Everett interpretation (January 2007). In Philosophy Compass 2(1), 109–128. Preprint (pdf)
Justifying conditionalization: Conditionalization maximizes expected epistemic utility (July 2006). With David Wallace. In Mind 115(459):607-632, July 2006. Abstract Link to e-print
Understanding Deutsch's probability in a deterministic multiverse (September 2004). In Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35(3), September 2004, pp.423-456. Abstract Preprint (PDF)
Everett and Evidence. Rutgers University Department of Philosophy graduate seminar in probability, Rutgers University, 10 November 2008.
Think globally, act locally: A reply to Richard Healey on gauge symmetries. Philosophy of Science Association Biennial Meeting, Pittsburgh, 6 November 2008.
On the empirical significance of local symmetries. British Society for the Philosophy of Science, London School of Economics, 3 November 2008.
Probability in the many worlds interpretation. 'A debate in cosmology: the multiverse' workshop, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, 4 September 2008.
How can there be a CPT theorem? Third International Conference on the Nature and Ontology of Spacetime, Concordia University, 15 June 2008. Beamer presentation (pdf)
In search of spacetime structuralism. Time and Universe workshop, Concordia University, 12 June 2008. Beamer presentation (pdf)
In search of spacetime structuralism. Philosophy of Physics discussion group, University of Oxford, 22 May 2008.
(Further) towards a geometrical understanding of the CPT theorem. Philosophy of physics research seminar, University of Oxford, 21 February 2008.
In search of spacetime structuralism. Presentation to the Vicious Circle reading group, University of Oxford, 18 February 2008. Draft
Time reversal in classical electromagnetism. Arizona Ontology Conference, University of Tucson, January 2008.
Isn't Faraday in the same boat as Galileo? Philosophy of physics discussion group presentation, University of Oxford, 22 November 2007.
Are anti-particles particles travelling backwards in time? Colloquium, Philosophy Department, University of Bristol, 7 November 2007.
Everett and Evidence. Philosophy of physics research seminar, University of Oxford, 25 October 2007.
Solution(?) to the evidential problem. Many worlds at 50 conference, Perimeter Institute, 23 September 2007. Video
Towards a geometrical understanding of the CPT theorem. 15th UK and European Meeting on the Foundations of Physics, University of Leeds, March 30 2007. Powerpoint slides
Time reversal in classical electromagnetism. University of Oxford Philosophy of Physics Discussion Group, February 1 2007.
Probability in Everettian quantum mechanics: How to live without uncertainty. Perimeter Institute Young Researchers Conference, December 7 2006. Video
Probability in Everettian quantum mechanics: How to live without uncertainty. New York University Department of Philosophy General Colloquium, November 17 2006.
Probability in Everettian quantum mechanics: How to live without uncertainty. Australian National University RSSS Philsoc/Seminar, August 24 2006.
When is a CPT theorem not a CPT theorem? Centre for Time, University of Sydney, July 26, 2006.
Are anti-particles particles traveling back in time? TAU workshop, Concordia University, June 12-13, 2006 (with Frank Arntzenius). Powerpoint slides Handout
Probability in Everettian quantum mechanics: How to live without uncertainty. New Directions in Foundations of Physics conference, University of Maryland, April 29, 2006. Powerpoint slides Handout
Justifying conditionalization: Conditionalization maximizes expected epistemic utility. Pacific APA, Portland, Oregon. March 25, 2006. Commentary by Mike Titelbaum, UC Berkeley.
Justifying conditionalization: Conditionalization maximizes expected epistemic utility. 7th Annual Rocky Mountain student philosophy conference, University of Colorado, Boulder. March 12, 2005. Commentary by Scott Hagaman, UC Boulder.
Justifying conditionalization: Conditionalization maximizes expected epistemic utility. Rutgers University Department of Philosophy graduate colloquium, October 2004.
Last updated: 1 November 2008