Research within the group focuses mainly on the following topics:
Scientific Representation: The Inferential Conception
- The group's research on scientific representation focuses in particular on the so-called inferential conception (Suárez, "An Inferential Conception of Scientific Representation", Philosophy of Science, 2004 and related publications), and has as a main target to defend the applicability of such conception to the fictional entities characteristic of scientific models. We also like to look historically back at the founding of what we like to call the modeling attitude in the works of Kelvin and Maxwell, on the one hand, and Helmholtz, Hertz and Boltzmann, on the other.
Chance and Propensities: Methodological, Metaphysical and Epistemic Issues
- We are working on a new theory of objective chance and probability, where propensities appear as explanatory posits of theory as opposed to merely interpretations of chance (Suárez, "Propensities and Pragmatism", Journal of Philosophy, 2013 and related publications). We aim at a full elucidation of this elusive concept that does justice to the complex distinctions and interrelations between propensities, probabilities and frequency statistics (also referred to as the 'tripartite conception': Suárez, "Four Theses on Probabilities, Causes, Propensities", 2011 and "Propensities, Probabilities, and Experimental Statistics", EPSA15 Selected Papers, Springer, 2017) Our research aims at a new metaphysics for all these notions, but one that is fully in line with the practice of statistical modelling across the sciences. Our methodology is thus deeply interdisciplinary, calling for expertise in metaphysics, philosophy of probability, statistical methodology, and the philosophy of scientific practice.
Causal Inference: Probabilistic Methods
- Progress in the area of causal inference is to be achieved through a careful assessment of the applicability of statistics-based methods of causal inference such as the Causal Markov Condition –or more specifically Reichenbach's Common Cause Principle– to both deterministic and genuinely indeterministic contexts. It is still a matter of controversy whether these methods are sound for reliable causal inference, particularly in cases of genuine indeterminism.
Philosophical Foundations of Quantum Physics
- We aim at clarifying the relationship between classical and quantum physics. In particular we address whether classical concepts –such as the classical notion of causality– may or not be avoided in quantum physics. As case studies, we propose (i) to carry out a philosophical analysis of the physical and axiomatic foundations of quantum chemistry; (ii) to update the early 90's debates about causality and EPR correlations in order to evaluate the applicability of Reichenbach's Common Cause Principle in the different "interpretations" of quantum physics; (iii) to evaluate the different interpretations of quantum probability.
- Recently there has been a renewal of interest in an integrated history and philosophy of science, and we find it illuminating to trace the main concepts that we work with back to the foundations of the discipline. Thus an important line of our research concerns, for example, the genesis and development of dispositional concepts in quantum mechanics. The key historical figures here include some of the founding parents of quantum mechanics, such as Bohr and Heisenberg, but also later figures such as Henry Margenau and Karl Popper. We are also interested in the intellectual and social relations that these physicists held with some of the most important philosophers of their time in logical empiricism, particularly Rudolf Carnap, Hans Reichenbach and Moritz Schlick.