In modern physics, almost everything about the nature and behaviour of matter can be inferred from claims about the symmetries of the world. For example, recent breakthroughs in the discovery of new elementary particle kinds are almost entirely due to claims about symmetries. This raises an intriguing metaphysical vision according to which the symmetries of the world are fundamental, whereas the material constituents of the world are ontologically derivative of them.
My current research develops a general framework for a metaphysics of modern physics that underwrites this vision: an account according to which symmetries are fundamental ontological items and which details how every non-fundamental claim about the material constituents of the world can be accounted for in terms of claims about those items. This account provides a template for an ontology for a wide range of current and future physics and explains the enormous success of symmetry techniques in the recent history of physics.
Symmetry Fundamentalism: A Case Study From Classical Physics
The Philosophical Quarterly, advance online publication (2020).
The Metaphysics of Invariance
Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Vol. 20, pp. 51-64 (2020).
Decoherent Histories of Spin Networks
Foundations of Physics, Vol. 43, pp. 310-328 (2013).
Work in Progress
(Drafts available upon request.)
A paper in which I develop a symmetry-fundamentalist ontology for non-relativistic quantum mechanics.
A paper in which I propose 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.
A paper on the ontological significance of the phase factor in quantum mechanics.
A paper defending a non-Bohmian view according to which a) the quantum states of the world are physical states that exhaustively detail the fundamental properties of the individualistic constituents of the world and b) fundamental reality is perfectly determinate.
A paper which assesses the extent to which wavefunction realism gives a special metaphysical status to the 'position representation'.