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Nick Huggett
University of Illinois, Chicago
  1. Emergent Spacetime and Empirical (in) Coherence.Nick Huggett & Christian Wüthrich - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):276-285.
    Numerous approaches to a quantum theory of gravity posit fundamental ontologies that exclude spacetime, either partially or wholly. This situation raises deep questions about how such theories could relate to the empirical realm, since arguably only entities localized in spacetime can ever be observed. Are such entities even possible in a theory without fundamental spacetime? How might they be derived, formally speaking? Moreover, since by assumption the fundamental entities cannot be smaller than the derived and so cannot ‘compose’ them in (...)
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  2. Target Space ≠ Space.Nick Huggett - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 59:81-88.
    This paper investigates the significance of T-duality in string theory: the indistinguisha- bility with respect to all observables, of models attributing radically different radii to space – larger than the observable universe, or far smaller than the Planck length, say. Two interpretational branch points are identified and discussed. First, whether duals are physically equivalent or not: by considering a duality of the familiar simple harmonic oscillator, I argue that they are. Unlike the oscillator, there are no measurements ‘outside’ string theory (...)
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  3. Deriving General Relativity From String Theory.Nick Huggett & Tiziana Vistarini - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1163-1174.
    Weyl symmetry of the classical bosonic string Lagrangian is broken by quantization, with profound consequences described here. Reimposing symmetry requires that the background space-time satisfy the equations of general relativity: general relativity, hence classical space-time as we know it, arises from string theory. We investigate the logical role of Weyl symmetry in this explanation of general relativity: it is not an independent physical postulate but required in quantum string theory, so from a certain point of view it plays only a (...)
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  4. Out of Nowhere: Duality.Nick Huggett & Christian Wüthrich - manuscript
    This is a chapter of the planned monograph "Out of Nowhere: The Emergence of Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity", co-authored by Nick Huggett and Christian Wüthrich and under contract with Oxford University Press. (More information at www<dot>beyondspacetime<dot>net.) This chapter investigates the meaning and significance of string theoretic dualities, arguing they reveal a surprising physical indeterminateness to spacetime.
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  5.  36
    Philosophy Beyond Spacetime: Implications From Quantum Gravity.Christian Wüthrich, Baptiste Le Bihan & Nick Huggett (eds.) - 2021 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Philosophy Beyond Spacetime assesses the state of play in the philosophy of quantum gravity. Research in this field aims at a unified theory in which quantum matter is related dynamically to relativistic spacetime. This volume highlights the conceptual questions involved, showing how physics and metaphysics can illuminate each other.
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  6.  87
    The (A)Temporal Emergence of Spacetime.Nick Huggett & Christian Wüthrich - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (December):1190-1203.
    This paper examines two cosmological models of quantum gravity to investigate the foundational and conceptual issues arising from quantum treatments of the big bang. While the classical singularity is erased, the quantum evolution that replaces it may not correspond to classical spacetime: it may instead be a non-spatiotemporal region, which somehow transitions to a spatiotemporal state. The different kinds of transition involved are partially characterized, the concept of a physical transition without time is investigated, and the problem of empirical incoherence (...)
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  7. The Regularity Account of Relational Spacetime.Nick Huggett - 2006 - Mind 115 (457):41--73.
    A version of relationism that takes spatiotemporal structures—spatial geometry and a standard of inertia—to supervene on the history of relations between bodies is described and defended. The account is used to explain how the relationist should construe models of Newtonian mechanics in which absolute acceleration manifestly does not supervene on the relations; Ptolemaic and Copernican models for example. The account introduces a new way in which a Lewis-style ‘best system’ might capture regularities in a broadly Humean world; a defence is (...)
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  8. Weak Discernibility for Quanta, the Right Way.Nick Huggett & Josh Norton - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):39-58.
    Muller and Saunders ([2008]) purport to demonstrate that, surprisingly, bosons and fermions are discernible; this article disputes their arguments, then derives a similar conclusion in a more satisfactory fashion. After briefly explicating their proof and indicating how it escapes earlier indiscernibility results, we note that the observables which Muller and Saunders argue discern particles are (i) non-symmetric in the case of bosons and (ii) trivial multiples of the identity in the case of fermions. Both problems undermine the claim that they (...)
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  9.  70
    Time in Quantum Gravity.Nick Huggett, Tiziana Vistarini & Christian Wuthrich - 2012 - .
    Quantum gravity--the marriage of quantum physics with general relativity--is bound to contain deep and important lessons for the nature of physical time. Some of these lessons shall be canvassed here, particularly as they arise from quantum general relativity and string theory and related approaches. Of particular interest is the question of which of the intuitive aspects of time will turn out to be fundamental, and which 'emergent' in some sense.
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  10. Absolute and Relational Theories of Space and Motion.Nick Huggett - 2008
    Since antiquity, natural philosophers have struggled to comprehend the nature of three tightly interconnected concepts: space, time, and motion. A proper understanding of motion, in particular, has been seen to be crucial for deciding questions about the natures of space and time, and their interconnections. Since the time of Newton and Leibniz, philosophers’ struggles to comprehend these concepts have often appeared to take the form of a dispute between absolute conceptions of space, time and motion, and relational conceptions. This article (...)
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  11.  5
    Beyond Spacetime: The Foundations of Quantum Gravity.Nick Huggett, Keizo Matsubara & Christian Wüthrich (eds.) - 2020 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press..
    A collection of essays discussing the philosophy and foundations of quantum gravity. Written by leading philosophers and physicists in the field, chapters cover the important conceptual questions in the search for a quantum theory of gravity, and the current state of understanding among philosophers and physicists.
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  12. Atomic Metaphysics.Nick Huggett - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (1):5-24.
  13.  81
    The Renormalisation Group and Effective Field Theories.Nick Huggett & Robert Weingard - 1995 - Synthese 102 (1):171 - 194.
    Much apprehension has been expressed by philosophers about the method of renormalisation in quantum field theory, as it apparently requires illegitimate procedure of infinite cancellation. This has lead to various speculations, in particular in Teller (1989). We examine Teller's discussion of perturbative renormalisation of quantum fields, and show why it is inadequate. To really approach the matter one needs to understand the ideas and results of the renormalisation group, so we give a simple but comprehensive account of this topic. With (...)
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  14. Identity, Quantum Mechanics and Common Sense.Nick Huggett - 1997 - The Monist 80 (1):118-130.
    I want to review some ways in which Quantum Mechanics seems to affront our “common-sense” notions of identity. Let’s start with a list.
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  15.  18
    Everywhere and Everywhen: Adventures in Physics and Philosophy.Nick Huggett - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
    Why does time pass and space does not? Are there just three dimensions? What is a quantum particle? Nick Huggett shows that philosophy -- armed with a power to analyze fundamental concepts and their relationship to the human experience -- has much to say about these profound questions about the universe. In Everywhere and Everywhen, Huggett charts a journey that peers into some of the oldest questions about the world, through some of the newest, such as: What shape is space? (...)
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  16.  25
    Missing the Point in Noncommutative Geometry.Nick Huggett, Tushar Menon & Fedele Lizzi - unknown - Synthese 199 (1-2):4695-4728.
    Noncommutative geometries generalize standard smooth geometries, parametrizing the noncommutativity of dimensions with a fundamental quantity with the dimensions of area. The question arises then of whether the concept of a region smaller than the scale—and ultimately the concept of a point—makes sense in such a theory. We argue that it does not, in two interrelated ways. In the context of Connes’ spectral triple approach, we show that arbitrarily small regions are not definable in the formal sense. While in the scalar (...)
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  17.  77
    Reflections on Parity Nonconservation.Nick Huggett - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (2):219-241.
    This paper considers the implications for the relational-substantival debate of observations of parity nonconservation in weak interactions, a much neglected topic. It is argued that 'geometric proofs' of absolute space, first proposed by Kant (1768), fail, but that parity violating laws allow 'mechanical proofs', like Newton's laws. Parity violating laws are explained and arguments analogous to those of Newton's Scholium are constructed to show that they require absolute spacetime structure--namely, an orientation--as Newtonian mechanics requires affine structure. Finally, it is considered (...)
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  18. Why Manifold Substantivalism is Probably Not a Consequence of Classical Mechanics.Nick Huggett - 1999 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (1):17 – 34.
    This paper develops and defends three related forms of relationism about spacetime against attacks by contemporary substantivalists. It clarifies Newton's globes argument to show that it does not bear on relations that fail to determine geodesic motions, since the inertial effects on which Newton relies are not simply correlated with affine structure, but must be understood in dynamical terms. It develops remarks by Sklar and van Fraassen into relational versions of Newtonian mechanics, and argues that Earman does not show them (...)
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  19.  79
    Skeptical Notes on a Physics of Passage.Nick Huggett - 2014 - Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1326 (1):9-17.
    This paper investigates the mathematical representation of time in physics. In existing theories time is represented by the real numbers, hence their formal proper- ties represent properties of time: these are surveyed. The central question of the paper is whether the existing representation of time is adequate, or whether it can or should be supplemented: especially, do we need a physics incorporating some kind of ‘dynamical passage’ of time? The paper argues that the existing mathematical framework is resistant to such (...)
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  20.  14
    Atomic Metaphysics.Nick Huggett - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (1):5.
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  21.  2
    Physics Meets Philosophy at the Planck Scale: Contemporary Theories in Quantum Gravity.Craig Callender & Nick Huggett - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.
    Was the first book to examine the exciting area of overlap between philosophy and quantum mechanics with chapters by leading experts from around the world.
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  22.  31
    Lost horizon? – modeling black holes in string theory.Nick Huggett & Keizo Matsubara - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-19.
    The modeling of black holes is an important desideratum for any quantum theory of gravity. Not only is a classical black hole metric sought, but also agreement with the laws of black hole thermodynamics. In this paper, we describe how these goals are achieved in string theory. We review black hole thermodynamics, and then explicate the general stringy derivation of classical spacetimes, the construction of a simple black hole solution, and the derivation of its entropy. With that in hand, we (...)
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  23.  67
    The Emergence of Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity.Nick Huggett - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):273-275.
    This is the introduction to the special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics on the emergence of spacetime in quantum theories of spacetime.
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  24. Space from Zeno to Einstein. Classic Readings with a Contemporary Commentary.Nick Huggett - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 62 (4):781-782.
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  25. Why Quantize Gravity (or Any Other Field for That Matter)?Nick Huggett & Craig Callender - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S382-.
    The quantum gravity program seeks a theory that handles quantum matter fields and gravity consistently. But is such a theory really required and must it involve quantizing the gravitational field? We give reasons for a positive answer to the first question, but dispute a widespread contention that it is inconsistent for the gravitational field to be classical while matter is quantum. In particular, we show how a popular argument (Eppley and Hannah 1997) falls short of a no-go theorem, and discuss (...)
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  26.  42
    Quarticles and the Identity of Indiscernibles.Nick Huggett - 2003 - .
    A number of commentators (especially French and Redhead, 1988, and Butterfield, 1993) have investigated the status of the principle of the identity of indiscernibles (PII) for bosons and fermions. In this paper I extend that investigation to the full range of quantum particles of any allowed kind of statistics -- `quarticles', that is. I show that for any kind (except bosons and fermions) there are states in which PII is violated by every pair of particles, some pairs and not others, (...)
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  27. Understanding Scientific Theories: An Assessment of Developments, 1969–1998. [REVIEW]Nick Huggett, Steven French & Frederick Suppe - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (3):S102-S115.
    The positivistic Received View construed scientific theories syntactically as axiomatic calculi where theoretical terms were given a partial semantic interpretation via correspondence rules connecting them to observation statements. This paper assesses what, with hindsight, seem the most important defects in the Received View; surveys the main proposed successor analyses to the Received View—various Semantic Conception versions and the Structuralist Analysis; evaluates how well they avoid those defects; examines what new problems they face and where the most promising require further development (...)
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  28.  65
    Interpretations of Quantum Field Theory.Nick Huggett & Robert Weingard - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (3):370-388.
    In this paper we critically review the various attempts that have been made to understand quantum field theory. We focus on Teller's (1990) harmonic oscillator interpretation, and Bohm et al.'s (1987) causal interpretation. The former unabashedly aims to be a purely heuristic account, but we show that it is only interestingly applicable to the free bosonic field. Along the way we suggest alternative models. Bohm's interpretation provides an ontology for the theory--a classical field, with a quantum equation of motion. This (...)
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  29.  35
    What Are Quanta, and Why Does It Matter?Nick Huggett - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:69 - 76.
    I criticize a certain view of the 'quanta' of quantum mechanics that sees them as fundamentally non-atomistic and fundamentally significant for our understanding of quantum fields. In particular, I have in mind work by Redhead and Teller (1991, 1992 and Teller 1990). I prove that classical particles do not have the rather strong flavour of identity often associated with them; permuting positions and momenta does not produce distinct states. I show that even the label free excitation formalism is compatible with (...)
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  30.  56
    On the Significance of Permutation Symmetry.Nick Huggett - 1999 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (3):325-347.
    There has been considerable recent philosophical debate over the implications of many particle quantum mechanics for the metaphysics of individuality (cf. Huggett [1997]). In this paper I look at things from a rather different perspective: by investigating the significance of permutation symmetry. I consider how various philosophical positions link up to the physical postulate of the indistinguishability of permuted states-permutation invariance-and how this postulate is used to explain quantum statistics. I offer an explanation of the statistics that relies on the (...)
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  31. Introduction.Craig Callender & Nick Huggett - 2001 - In Craig Callender & Nick Huggett (eds.), Physics Meets Philosophy at the Panck Scale. Cambridge University Press.
     
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  32. Philosophy Beyond Spacetime: Introduction.Christian Wüthrich, Baptiste Le Bihan & Nick Huggett - 2021 - In Christian Wüthrich, Baptiste Le Bihan & Nick Huggett (eds.), Philosophy Beyond Spacetime: Implications From Quantum Gravity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-15.
    The present volume collects essays on the philosophical foundations of quantum theories of gravity, such as loop quantum gravity and string theory. Central for philosophical concerns is quantum gravity's suggestion that space and time, or spacetime, may not exist fundamentally, but instead be a derivative entity emerging from non-spatiotemporal degrees of freedom. In the spirit of naturalised metaphysics, contributions to this volume consider the philosophical implications of this suggestion. In turn, philosophical methods and insights are brought to bear on the (...)
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  33.  14
    Why Quantize Gravity (or Any Other Field for That Matter)?Nick Huggett & Craig Callender - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (S3):S382-S394.
    The quantum gravity program seeks a theory that handles quantum matter fields and gravity consistently. But is such a theory really required and must it involve quantizing the gravitational field? We give reasons for a positive answer to the first question, but dispute a widespread contention that it is inconsistent for the gravitational field to be classical while matter is quantum. In particular, we show how a popular argument falls short of a no-go theorem, and discuss possible counterexamples. Important issues (...)
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  34.  17
    Renormalization and the Disunity of Science.Nick Huggett - 2002 - In Meinard Kuhlmann, Holger Lyre & Andrew Wayne (eds.), Ontological Aspects of Quantum Field Theory. World Scientific. pp. 255-277.
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  35.  58
    On Newton’s Method: William L. Harper: Isaac Newton’s Scientific Method: Turning Data Into Evidence About Gravity and Cosmology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, 360pp, $75 HB. [REVIEW]Nick Huggett, George E. Smith, David Marshall Miller & William Harper - 2013 - Metascience 22 (2):215-246.
  36.  2
    Essay Review-HARVEY R. BROWN: Physical Relativity: Space-Time Structure From a Dynamical Perspective.Nick Huggett - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (3):404.
    The two books discussed here make important contributions to our understanding of the role of spacetime concepts in physical theories and how that understanding has changed during the evolution of physics. Both emphasize what can be called a ‘dynamical’ account, according to which geometric structures should be understood in terms of their roles in the laws governing matter and force. I explore how the books contribute to such a project; while generally sympathetic, I offer criticisms of some historical claims concerning (...)
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  37.  50
    A Philosopher Looks at Non-Commutative Geometry.Nick Huggett - 2018
    This paper introduces some basic ideas and formalism of physics in non-commutative geometry. My goals are three-fold: first to introduce the basic formal and conceptual ideas of non-commutative geometry, and second to raise and address some philosophical questions about it. Third, more generally to illuminate the point that deriving spacetime from a more fundamental theory requires discovering new modes of `physically salient' derivation.
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  38. Why the Parts of Absolute Space Are Immobile.Nick Huggett - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):391-407.
    Newton's arguments for the immobility of the parts of absolute space have been claimed to licence several proposals concerning his metaphysics. This paper clarifies Newton, first distinguishing two distinct arguments. Then, it demonstrates, contrary to Nerlich ([2005]), that Newton does not appeal to the identity of indiscernibles, but rather to a view about de re representation. Additionally, DiSalle ([1994]) claims that one argument shows Newton to be an anti-substantivalist. I agree that its premises imply a denial of a kind of (...)
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  39.  62
    Indistinguishability.Nick Huggett & Tom Imbo - 2009 - In Daniel Greenberger, Klaus Hentschel & Friedel Weinert (eds.), Compendium of Quantum Physics. Springer. pp. 311-317.
    an article written with Tom Imbo for the forthcoming Compendium of Quantum Mechanics.
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  40.  75
    Essay Review: Physical Relativity and Understanding Space-Time. [REVIEW]Nick Huggett - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (3):404-422.
    The two books discussed here make important contributions to our understanding of the role of spacetime concepts in physical theories and how that understanding has changed during the evolution of physics. Both emphasize what can be called a ‘dynamical’ account, according to which geometric structures should be understood in terms of their roles in the laws governing matter and force. I explore how the books contribute to such a project; while generally sympathetic, I offer criticisms of some historical claims concerning (...)
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  41.  19
    What Did Newton Mean by ‘Absolute Motion’?Nick Huggett - 2012 - In Andrew Janiak & Eric Schliesser (eds.), Interpreting Newton: Critical Essays. Cambridge University Press. pp. 196-218.
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  42.  6
    Critical Review: Paul Teller's Interpretive Introduction to Quantum Field Theory.Nick Huggett & Robert Weingard - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (2):302.
    Paul Teller's new book, “An Interpretive Introduction to Quantum Field Theory”, is a pioneering work. To the best of our knowledge it is the first book by a philosopher devoted not only to explaining what quantum field theory is, but to clarifying the conceptual issues and puzzles to which the theory gives rise. As such it is an important book, which we hope will greatly stimulate work in the area as other philosophers and physicists react to it.
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  43.  55
    Mirror Symmetry: What is It for Relational Space to Be Orientable?Nick Huggett - 2002 - In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. pp. 281.
    As Pooley (2001) explains, the challenge of giving a relational account of orientability (and topology more generally) is not an easy one. This paper criticizes Pooley's and other proposals, raises a range of problems for the project, and then proposes a novel way for the relationist to understand not only topology, but also the geometry of space. This proposal is the `regularity account' since it claims that geometry and topology supervene on the regular ways in which relations evolve.
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  44.  48
    Interpretive Introduction to Quantum Field Theory. Paul Teller.Nick Huggett & Robert Weingard - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (2):302-314.
    Paul Teller's new book, “An Interpretive Introduction to Quantum Field Theory”, is a pioneering work. To the best of our knowledge it is the first book by a philosopher devoted not only to explaining what quantum field theory is, but to clarifying the conceptual issues and puzzles to which the theory gives rise. As such it is an important book, which we hope will greatly stimulate work in the area as other philosophers and physicists react to it.
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  45. Local Philosophies of Science.Nick Huggett - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (3):137.
    Since the collapse of the 'received view' consensus in the late 1960s, the question of scientific realism has been a major preoccupation of philosophers of science. This paper sketches the history of this debate, which grew from developments in the philosophy of language, but eventually took on an autonomous existence. More recently, the debate has tended towards more 'local' considerations of particular scientific episodes as a way of getting purchase on the issues. The paper reviews two such approaches, Fine's and (...)
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  46. Essay Review: Physical Relativity and Understanding Space‐Time.Nick Huggett - 2009 - 76 (3).
     
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  47. Out of Nowhere: Spacetime From Causality: Causal Set Theory.Christian Wüthrich & Nick Huggett - manuscript
    This is a chapter of the planned monograph "Out of Nowhere: The Emergence of Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity", co-authored by Nick Huggett and Christian Wüthrich and under contract with Oxford University Press. (More information at www<dot>beyondspacetime<dot>net.) This chapter introduces causal set theory and identifies and articulates a 'problem of space' in this theory.
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  48.  1
    The Never-Ending Dance of Philosophy and Physics.Nick Huggett & Joshua Norton - unknown
    A popular-level discussion of the mutual significance of physics and philosophy over the ages.
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  49.  86
    Spacetime "Emergence".Nick Huggett - 2021 - In Eleanor Knox & Alistair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics. Routledge.
    Could spacetime be derived rather than fundamental? The question is pressing because attempts to quantize gravity have led to theories in which (arguably) there are either no, or only extremely thin, spacetime structures. Moreover, recent proposals for the interpretation of quantum mechanics have suggested that 3-dimensional space may be an ‘appearance’ derived from the 3N-dimensional space in which an N-particle wavefunction lives (cross- reference). In fact, I will largely assume a positive answer, and investigate how it could be; in particular, (...)
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  50. Out of Nowhere: The 'Emergence' of Spacetime in String Theory.Nick Huggett & Christian Wüthrich - manuscript
    This is a chapter of the planned monograph "Out of Nowhere: The Emergence of Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity", co-authored by Nick Huggett and Christian Wüthrich and under contract with Oxford University Press. This chapter analyses the nature and derivation of spacetime topology and geometry according to string theory.
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