**Description:** The course will examine a number of issues
concerning the foundations, and philosophical implications, of special
relativity (SR) and quantum mechanics (QM). The course will not
presuppose previous acquaintance with these theories; we will
introduce the mathematical tools needed for a responsible
discussion. Some questions we might discuss: Does QM entail
metaphysical idealism -- i.e., that there is no physical reality
outside the perceptions of some conscious observer? Does SR show that
the entire course of history is predetermined? Does QM entail that
some events are purely random and have no explanation?

**Requirements/Grading:**

Weekly reading assignments and/or problem sets. Students will have some freedom to choose between problems sets and writing assignments.

Midterm Exam | 15% |

Final Exam | 25% |

Homework | 30% |

Term Paper | 30% |

**Readings:**

- David Malament,
*Foundations of Special Relativity*(handout). - Wesley Salmon, "Clocks and simultaneity in special
relativity,"
in
*Space, Time, and Motion*. - Hilary Putnam, "Time and physical geometry"
*Journal of Philosophy*64, 240-247 (1967). - Larry Sklar,
*Philosophy of Physics*. - R.I.G. Hughes,
*The Structure and Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics*. - Tim Maudlin,
*Quantum Nonlocality and Relativity*. (Chap 2)

**Schedule:**

April 16: Assignment due: Hughes, pp. 37-38, #1-8.

April 18: Sklar, pp. 171-179.

April 25: The measurement problem. Sklar, pp. 179-202. (Technical track assignment due: Hughes, read pp. 38-56 and do all exercises in text.)

April 30: Hidden variables and Bell's theorem. Sklar, pp. 202-212.

May 2: Hidden variables and Bell's theorem. Sklar, pp. 213-225.

Tuesday, May 14: TERM PAPERS DUE by 5:00pm.

Thursday, May 16: Review session (5:30pm, Marx Hall 201)

Friday, May 17: FINAL EXAM (1:30pm, Peyton Hall 145)

Last modified: Feb 24, 2004