Hans Halvorson: papers | talks | teaching | resources

Princeton University
professor: dept of philosophy
associated faculty: dept of mathematics

office: 1879 hall, room 220
department phone: 609.258.4289

curriculum vitae: PDF

research summary: My research focuses on the "logical analysis" of scientific theories — an idea that started with the logical positivists, although they became sidetracked by worries about verification. The goal now is to figure out how to renew this enterprise, and how to do it right this time. (For an overview, see: logical philosophy of science.) Of course, the main tools for this project are (a) formal logic, and (b) knowledge of contemporary science. But old fashioned formal logic is too clunky to keep up with contemporary science. For example, just imagine trying to regiment quantum field theory in the predicate calculus! New science needs new tools, and the new tools are category theory and categorical logic. The book of the world is written in mathematics — and the book of mathematics is written in category theory.

Category theory is quite useful in many areas of philosophy. For example, it raises raises interesting issues in the philosophy of mathematics, such as category-theoretic foundations, and univalent foundations.

When it comes to contemporary science, I've focused primarily on physics, and more particularly: quantum field theory, quantum information theory, and experimental metaphysics.

So what's the point of philosophical reflection upon science? Well, science gives us knowledge, and I'd like to understand how it does so, and whether it has limits. Should we adopt the doctrine of sola scientia, i.e. that science should be our only guide? To the end of thinking about these bigger questions, I occasionally delve into the relationship between science and religion. For example: cosmology and theology, the fine-tuning design argument, and methodological naturalism.