The Nature of Quantum Objects

November 11, 2021 - November 13, 2021
Department of Philosophy, University of Geneva


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  • SNF grant 181088

Keynote speakers:

City College of New York
University of Berne
Università degli Studi Roma Tre
University of Chicago
University of Bristol
University of Birmingham


Université de Genève
Université de Genève
University of Geneva

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Quantum theory is the most accurate and comprehensive account of matter: no physical theory in the history of science has told us more about the material objects that constitute the world. At the same time, quantum theory is notorious for its puzzling implications about the nature of the objects it purports to describe: particles without definite locations; waves in a space with a dizzying number of dimensions; and correlations between spacelike-separated physical systems.

Philosophical engagement with quantum theory has traditionally focused on solving the quantum measurement problem, the challenge of forging the hugely successful mathematical and empirical apparatus of quantum mechanics into a physical theory––the kind of thing that is capable of explaining quantum phenomena in terms of the behavior of the material constituents of the world. While such investigations have often gone along with the articulation of proposals for the ontology of quantum mechanics, comparatively little attention has been paid to distinctively metaphysical questions about the nature of quantum objects. What are the laws governing the composition of quantum objects? Are fundamental quantum objects metaphysically independent? Are all fundamental properties of quantum objects determinate? What is the nature of locations of quantum objects? How do quantum objects persist?

The goal of this conference is to showcase new work on such questions by bringing together philosophers of physics and metaphysicians pursuing diverse approaches to such questions. We invite contributions on topics including, but not limited to:

1.      Are there quantum objects? Structuralism, Qualitativism, and Haecceitism

2.      What kind of thing is a quantum object? Particles, Fields, and Monism

3.      Are quantum objects metaphysically dependent?

4.     Does quantum theory imply metaphysical indeterminacy in the properties of quantum objects?

5.      Do quantum objects have essential properties?

6.     How do quantum objects relate to space-time? How do quantum objects persist? Do they have locations?

7.     What is the status of material objects in quantum gravity?

Invited Speakers: Elise Crull (CUNY), Vera Matarese (Bern), Matteo Morganti (Roma Tre), Tom Pashby (U Chicago), Vanessa Seifert (Bristol), and Alastair Wilson (Birmingham)

Submission guidelines: The maximum length of abstracts is 1,000 words including footnotes and appendices but excluding references. Abstracts should be prepared for anonymous review. Co-authored abstracts are admissible for submission. Abstracts are to be submitted via EasyChair by July 31, 2021: Decisions will be communicated by the end of August 2021.

Accepted contributors will be allotted 30 minutes for presentation plus 20 minutes for Q&A. 

Funding: Support for travel and accommodation is available for contributors without institutional funding. Please contact the organizers about travel support once your abstract has been accepted.

Attendance: We are currently planning for this to be an in-person event. Attendance is free of charge; if you wish to attend the conference and/or join us for dinner, please email [email protected]

Organization: Claudio Calosi, David Schroeren, Maria Nørgaard, Ryan Miller, members of the SNF funded project “The Metaphysics of Quantum Objects” (SNF grant no. 181088, PI Claudio Calosi), Department of Philosophy, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Contact: Please direct any queries to [email protected]

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November 4, 2021, 9:00am CET

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