LMP 2017

Philosophy of Logic, Mathematics, and Physics Graduate Conference

June 15-16, 2017

Western University, Stevenson Hall, Room 1145

With Keynote Address from Doreen Fraser (University of Waterloo)

“Formal analogies in the development of renormalization group methods”

Abstract: This is a talk about methodology in the contexts of both discovery and justification.  When physicists have encountered theoretical roadblocks in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, a popular strategy has been to borrow a theoretical framework from another domain (e.g., Feynman diagrams in quantum statistical mechanics, spontaneous symmetry breaking in particle physics, and thermodynamics in theories of black holes).  What explains the success of this strategy?  I will analyze the case study of the development of renormalization group (RG) methods in particle physics and condensed matter physics in the early 1970s.  I contend that the analogies between models of critical phenomena and models of interacting quantum fields that underpinned the development of RG methods are purely formal analogies—that is, they are not based on physical similarities between the condensed matter and particle physics systems.  The recognition that the analogies are purely formal carries important implications for the interpretation of quantum field theory as well as bigger picture debates within philosophy of science.

Held in conjunction with the Cosmology and the Future of Spacetime conference (June 12–14, 2017).

June 15, 2017

9:30 am         Eugene Chua (Cambridge University) “Is Logic Empirical? Logical ‘Conventionalism’ from an Empirical Standpoint”
10:45 am  Jeremy Steeger (University of Notre Dame) “Betting on quantum objects”
11:45 am   Lunch
1:00 pm   Alex Meehan (Princeton University) “Physics and the Art of Reformulation”
2:15 pm   John Dougherty (University of California, San Diego)“Sizing up gauge transformations”
3:30 pm   Keynote Address: Doreen Fraser (University of Waterloo)   “Formal analogies in the development of renormalization ”
6:30 pm   Dinner

June 16, 2017

9:30 am         Adrian Yee (University of Toronto)                          “The Normativity and Topography of Logic”
10:45 am  Josh Hunt (University of Michigan)“Symmetry and Degeneracy in the Hydrogen Atom”
11:45 am   Lunch
1:00 pm   Jens Jager (Oxford University)“Conceptual Foundations of Boltzmann’s H-theorem (1872)”
2:15 pm   Mike Schneider (University of California, Irvine) “What’s the problem with the cosmological constant?”
3:15 pm   Awarding of the Robert K. Clifton Memorial Book Prize     Winner: Mike Schneider

This conference is supported by The Rotman Institute of Philosophy, The Department of Philosophy, The Department of Mathematics, The Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Western’s Society of Graduate Students, Research Western, Western’s School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and the Oxford University Press for donating the Robert K. Clifton Memorial Book Prize.


Adam Koberinski (chair), Thomas De Saegher, Nathan Moore, Marie Gueguen, Philippos Papagiannopoulos, Yousuf Hasan, Peter Verveniotis, Jamie Shaw, Jared Richards, Matthew Howery, Valerie Lynn Therrien, Helen Meskhidze