© 2020 by DAVID SCHROEREN. Photo copyright: Thomas und Ulla Kolbeck Stiftung


In modern fundamental physics, the notion of symmetry takes centre stage: claims about the symmetries of the natural world are used to infer claims about the nature of physical properties, the nature of matter, and about the physical laws. My current research explains the metaphysical basis of this role of symmetries in physics. 


(Drafts available upon request.)


Symmetry Fundamentalism: A Case Study from Classical Physics

In which I develop an ontology for classical particle mechanics that vindicates symmetry fundamentalism, the thesis that symmetries are fundamental aspects of reality.


Symmetry Fundamentalism in Quantum Mechanics

In which I articulate a symmetry-fundamentalist ontology for non-relativistic quantum mechanics.


The Ontology of Symmetry Groups

In which I develop a metaphysics according to which the mathematical structure of a symmetry group can be captured in terms of a single four-place relation among the possible instantaneous states of the world.


The Metaphysics of Invariance 


In which I show that the mathematical formalism of symmetries in physics suggests a novel, fine-grained notion of invariance.


On the Ontological Significance of Eigenstates and Eigenvalues

In which I argue that, on every major approach to the metaphysics of non-relativistic quantum mechanics, Hermitian operators (as well as their eigenstates and eigenvalues) have ontological significance as mathematical surrogates for fundamental physical properties: the fundamental degrees of freedom of the quantum state.


Decoherent Histories of Spin Networks

Foundations of Physics (2013), Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 310-328.

[Preprint | Published Version]



The Ontology of Symmetry Groups

  • Society for the Metaphysics of Science 2019, University of Toronto, Canada, November 2019

  • ILMPS Conference, University of Salzburg, Austria, September 2019

Why Is Spin Discrete?

  • *The Structure of Reality and the Reality of Structure, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, June 2019​​ [Video]

Symmetry Fundamentalism​

  • 2019 Eastern Division Meeting, American Philosophical Association, New York City, January 2019

  • *Institute of Philosophy, Free University of Berlin, Germany, December 2018

  • *Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, UK, November 2018

  • Society for the Metaphysics of Science 4th Annual Conference, Milan, Italy, August 2018

  • *Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany, July 2018

  • *Munich Centre for Mathematical Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, July 2018

  • XXI International Summer School in Philosophy of Physics, Urbino, Italy, June 2018

The Metaphysics of Invariance

  • 5th International Summer School in Philosophy of Physics, Saig, Germany, July 2017

  • Direct Empirical Status and the Ontology of Symmetries in Physics, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, July 2017

Symmetry and the Real Definition of Physical Properties

  • Philosophy of Physics Reading Group, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, UC Irvine, May 2017
  • Philosophy of Physics Research Group, Department of Philosophy, UC San Diego, May 2017

Scientific Explanation, Grounding, and Hyperintensional Ontology

  • Ground in Philosophy of Science, Université de Genève, September 2016

Is the Semantics of Scientific Theories Hyperintensional?

  • The Semantics of Theories, Munich Centre for Mathematical Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, June 2016

On Kant's Derivation of the Regulative Principle of Systematic Unity

  • 2nd HU-Princeton Workshop 'Cognition and Causality', Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, June 2016

  • 12th International Kant Congress 'Nature and Freedom', Universität Wien, September 2015

Theoretical Equivalence as Explanatory Equivalence

  • British Society for the Philosophy of Science (BSPS) Annual Conference, The University of Manchester, July 2015

  • Philosophy of Logic, Maths, and Physics (LMP) Conference, Western University, London, Ontario, June 2015

  • 1st Munich Graduate Workshop in Mathematical Philosophy: Philosophy of Physics, Munich Centre for Mathematical Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany, April 2015 

Existential Risk Reduction – A Rawlsian Duty of Justice to Future Generations?   

  • 'Social Equality' Conference, University of Cape Town, August 2014

  • Princeton Graduate Conference in Political Theory, Princeton University, April 2014

  • Warwick Graduate Conference in Political Theory, University of Warwick, February 2014 

Decoherent Histories of Spin Networks

  • Beyond Spacetime Conference, University of Illinois at Chicago, September 2013

  • Foundations of Physics Conference, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, July 2013

  • LOOPS '13 Conference, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Ontario, July 2013