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The Philosophy of Physics

ISBN: 978-0-7456-6981-6
212 pages
July 2016, Polity
The Philosophy of Physics (0745669816) cover image

Description

Does the future exist already? What is space? Are time machines physically possible? What is quantum mechanical reality like? Are there many universes? Is there a ‘true’ geometry of the universe? Why does there appear to be an arrow of time? Do humans play a special role in the world?

In this unique introductory book, Dean Rickles guides the reader through these and other core questions that keep philosophers of physics up at night. He discusses the three pillars of modern physics (quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and the theories of relativity), in addition to more cutting-edge themes such as econophysics, quantum gravity, quantum computers, and gauge theories. The book’s approach is based on the idea that philosophy of physics is a kind of ‘interpretation game’ in which we try to map physical theories onto our world. But the rules of this game often lead to a multiplicity of possible victors: rarely do we encounter a simple answer.

The Philosophy of Physics offers a highly accessible introduction to the latest developments in this exciting field. Written in a lively style, with many visual examples, it will appeal to beginner-level students in both physics and philosophy.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgements

1 Interpreting Physical Theories

2 General Concepts of Physics

3 Symmetries in Physics

4 Getting Philosophy from Symmetry

5 Further Adventures in Space and Time

6 Linking Micro to Macro

7 Quantum Philosophy

8 On the Edge: A Snapshot of Advanced Topics

Glossary

Notes

References

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Author Information

Dean Rickles is Professor of History and Philosophy of Modern Physics at the University of Sydney
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Reviews

"A real blast. No other beginner-level book in philosophy of physics provides such a synoptic view of the subject. But what really makes the book fun is Rickles' ability to convey how astonishing these physical puzzles are, in with an informal, witty voice."
Craig Callender, University of California, San Diego

"A wonderfully insightful and refreshing approach to the philosophy of physics, Rickles' book lays out the philosophical issues in an extremely clear and highly absorbing way, taking the reader on a fascinating journey through the twists and turns that lie at the heart of modern physics. Highly recommended!"
Margaret Morrison, University of Toronto

"The Philosophy of Physics is impressively written in a fully accessible and lively style."
Midwest Book Review

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