# Current research

Niels Bohr: Philosopher in Action

An intellectual biography of Niels Bohr (Joint work with Anja Skaar Jacobsen). We are currently working on Bohr's use of analogies between physics and psychology.

Philosophical Lessons of the Theory of Relativity

Einstein's theory of relativity has gone from from being extremely philosophically provocative (in the early 20th century) to being ontologically domesticated. There are, in fact, two ways in which the philosophical edge of relativity can be blunted: either interpret relativity in the spirit of Lorentz (as a theory of how matter conspires to hide our true state of motion) or take relativity theory to describe an extended four-dimensional object (which, incidentally, is not subject to change). In either case, these ontological interpretations of relativity theory deflect attention away from Einstein's original claim: that the way forward in physics requires a revision in the way that we describe reality.

Metatheory and Theoretical Equivalence

It’s possible to make up some precise (mathematically rigorous) versions of familiar concepts. For example, in the 19th century, mathematicians came up with definitions for concepts such as a function being continuous, or of a collection being infinite. In the 20th century, mathematical logicians continued this practice by proposing definitions for concepts such as provability, truth (in a structure), and equivalence (of theories).

But some philosophers complain about this methodology, saying that the notion of equivalence is not "formal", or even more extremely, that it's a bad idea to talk about theories in the first place – rather than about more solid things such as facts. I remain convinced that meta-theoretic concepts (i.e., concepts about our representations and how they relate to the world) are useful, and that explication of such concepts is a valuable practice. But it’s important to clarify what we attend to achieve via this methodology.

Space and time from entanglement

Together with Rasmus Jaksland, I'm working on the question of whether entanglement can be taken to be a fundamental relation that precedes spatio-temporal relations.


If one looks behind the stories and poetic language, one finds quite a bit of analytic philosophy in the work of Kierkegaard. Perhaps we should have expected this: Kierkegaard, like Russell (the father of analytic philosophy), defines his approach in opposition to Hegel's.

Kierkegaard is also a central part of the backstory to Niels Bohr's philosophy of physics. There are two degrees of philosophical separation between Kierkegaard and Bohr, and they share a Scandinavian philosophical tradition that eschews the dilemma between the continental rationalist and British empiricist traditions. (This is one reason why it's misguided to ask if Bohr was a Kantian. If there was any influence of Kant on Bohr, it was filtered through another tradition and way of thinking.)

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