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 theory. I use tools from metaphysics and epistemology to assess competing proposals about what physical laws govern the motion of subatomic particles (such as Bohmian mechanicsEverettian quantum mechanics, and GRW theory). In particular, I am interested in the ways in which self-locating uncertainty arises in quantum mechanics and how we ought to respond to it.

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

How Electrons Spin [abstract] [arXiv]


Forces on Fields (forthcoming), 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.


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 (focusing on electromagnetism), 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