Charles "Chip" T. Sebens

Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences
California Institute of Technology
Office: Dabney 301E
I study the philosophy of physics, focusing on the foundations of quantum mechanics, classical field theory, and quantum field theory.  I use tools from metaphysics and epistemology to assess competing proposals about what physical laws govern the quantum realm (such as Bohmian mechanicsEverettian quantum mechanics, and GRW theory).  I also work towards improving our understanding of classical field theories, including our theories of the electromagnetic, Dirac, and gravitational fields.  At the intersection of these two topics, I am interested in the way that classical field theories are quantized to arrive at quantum field theories.

I am an assistant professor of philosophy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).  As a student I studied physics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Oxford, and the University of Michigan.  Before coming to Caltech, I was an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego.




Under Review

Putting Positrons into Classical Dirac Field Theory [abstract] [arXiv]



Publications

How Electrons Spin (forthcoming), in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics [abstract] [arXiv]

The Mass of the Gravitational Field (forthcoming), in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science [abstract[arXiv] [related notes]

Electromagnetism as Quantum Physics (2019), in Foundations of Physics [abstract] [arXiv]

Forces on Fields (2018), in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics [abstract] [arXiv]

Self-Locating Uncertainty and the Origin of Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics (2018), with Sean Carroll, in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science [abstract[arXiv] [blog IIIIII] [quanta]

Constructing and Constraining Wave Functions for Identical Quantum Particles (2016), in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics [abstract] [arXiv] [slides]



Many Worlds, the Born Rule, and Self-Locating Uncertainty (2014), with Sean Carroll, in Quantum Theory: A Two-Time Success Story, Yakir Aharonov Festschrift [abstract[arXiv (updated version)]



Reviews




Thesis

My thesis is available here. The majority of it appears in the articles above. However, the fourth chapter, "A Laws-First Introduction to Quantum Field Theory," [abstract] is not available elsewhere.







Teaching

Philosophy Through Science Fiction, Caltech, Spring 2019 [syllabus]

Philosophical Issues in Quantum Physics, Caltech, Spring 2019 [syllabus]

Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics, Caltech, Fall 2018 [syllabus]

Philosophy of Science, UC San Diego, Fall 2017 [syllabus]

Introduction to Philosophy, UC San Diego, Fall 2017 [syllabus]

Science, Philosophy, and the Big Questions, UC San Diego, Spring 2017 [syllabus]

Scientific Realism and Quantum Physics (Graduate Seminar), UC San Diego, Spring 2017 [syllabus]

Philosophy of Physics, UC San Diego, Fall 2016 [syllabus]

Philosophical Issues in Quantum Physics, Caltech, Spring 2016 [syllabus]

Knowledge and Reality, Caltech, Spring 2016 [syllabus]

Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics, Caltech, Fall 2015 [syllabus]

Science Fiction and Philosophy, University of Michigan, Fall 2013 [syllabus]



Other

On the Edge of Philosophy and Physics (2019), interview with Whitney Clavin



Guest Post: Chip Sebens on the Many-Interacting-Worlds Approach to Quantum Mechanics (2014), on Sean Carroll's Preposterous Universe blog

Quantum Mechanics, Three Ways (2014), poster presented to undergraduate physics students