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 and classical 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.

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

The Mass of the Gravitational Field [abstract[arXiv] [related notes]

How Electrons Spin [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]

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)]



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.


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

Philosophy of Science, UCSD, Fall 2017 [syllabus]

Introduction to Philosophy, UCSD, Fall 2017 [syllabus]

Science, Philosophy, and the Big Questions, UCSD, Spring 2017 [syllabus]

Scientific Realism and Quantum Physics (Graduate Seminar), UCSD, Spring 2017 [syllabus]

Philosophy of Physics, UCSD, 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]


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