Research

Empirical Equivalence and Theory Choice

In my dissertation I dealt with the problem of empirical equivalence and underdetermination of theory choice. I critically examined the different approaches in the literature, paying special attention to a solution proposed by Larry Laudan and Jarret Leplin in 1991. I argued that L & L' s solution in terms of non-entailed empirical evidence can, in some cases, break the evidential tie. However, the solution is not guaranteed from the outset, so that recalcitrant scenarios of empirically equivalent theories may occur. I state the the problem of empirical equivalence is a serious and real one, but that the regular development of science may find a way out. I wrote a paper in collaboration with Dennis Dieks in which these arguments are presented in detail. In another article I argued that the usual examples of the problem that are considered in the literature are artificially generated, and therefore neither illustrative nor troubling.

Hendrik Lorentz and Albert Einstein

De Broglie-Bohm Quantum Theory

In 1927 Louis de Broglie formulated a sketch for a quantum theory in which particles have determinate positions at all times. David Bohm independently reintroduced the theory in 1952. De Broglie-Bohm theory is one of the most interesting approaches to the problems in quantum physics. In a recent paper, I analysed the meaning and foundations of the concept of inertial trajectory in this theory. I argue that despite the natural expectation that inertial motion of quantum particles is a well-defined notion, the concept is problematic in all renditions of de Broglie-Bohm theory. I am currently working in some other issues concerning this theory.

Alice, Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Lorentz's Ether Theory vs. Special Relativity

Albert Einstein's special relativity and Hendrik Lorentz's ether theory are empirically equivalent. I analysed this case with the aim of explaining why Einstein's theory got accepted and why Lorentz's is now only a chapter in the history of physics. I argued that since all proposals in the previous literature approach this case in terms of non-empirical features (non-empirical virtues in special relativity, and/or non-empirical flaws in the ether theory), they are not able to satisfactorily explain the universally accepted victory of Einstein's theory. I claimed that if the intertheoretic connections between special and general relativity and between the ether theory and early quantum physics are considered, a pattern of non-entailed evidence (see above) allows an evidentially based choice, in spite of the empirical equivalence between the theories. My analysis of this case can be found in a published article.

Luois de Broglie and David Bohm
Hermann Minkowski's spacetime diagram

Dynamics and Spacetime Structure in Special Relativity

Harvey Brown's celebrated book Physical Relativity opened a number of discussions about foundational issues in special relativity. One of them is given by the nature of the connection between the Lorentz-invariance of physical laws and the Minkowski structure of spacetime. Brown defends that the former explains the latter, so that spacetime is just "a glorious non-entity". Michel Janssen has challenged this view stating the opposite thesis that Minkowski structure explains Lorentz-invariance. In a published article I argued that this debate is misconceived: rather than like the cart and the horse, Lorentz-invariance and Minkowski structure are like the two sides of a single coin. I will develop this view by exploring the idea that special relativity explains in chronogeometric terms, and revisiting the case of Lorentz vs. Einstein in connection with Poincaré's geometric conventionalism and the debate about the ontology of spacetime.

Exploring Logical Space

Apart from philosophy of physics and philosophy of science, I also spend some time studying the work of some of my philosophy (without last name) heroes. I wrote an article on Wittgenstein's Tractatus, in which I critically examine the notion of thought, the intermediary between facts and propositions according to the Tractarian theory of representation. I argue that instead of a sort of mediating picture, thought is to be conceived as the activity of linking depicted and picturing facts, performed by the transcendental subject within logical space. This activity, I state, gets clearly described in analogy with the method of projective geometry.

The transcendental self in the Tractatus