Academic year
Department of Philosophy
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Master courses
Module 7. Issues in Contemporary Theoretical and Practical Philosophy
2013-10-01 - 2014-01-17
Room 207, Fac. de Lletres, UAB



The advent of quantum mechanics completely changed our worldview: not only have our concepts of matter and space-time been deeply affected by the theory, but it has raised a great number of epistemological and methodological issues that contributed to shape the philosophical discussion of the twentieth century. Therefore, a certain acquaintance with the theory is essential for contemporary metaphysicians, epistemologists and philosophers of science. This course aims to provide an elementary -but rigorous- introduction to the conceptual difficulties besetting quantum theory. Our goal is to answer the question: what would the world be like, if the theory were true? As we will see, there are many answers to this question, all of them involving important revisions in our concept of nature.
The course is intended for students with philosophical interest mainly coming from humanities. It is a self-contained introduction to the philosophy of quantum mechanics and will include those aspects of physics that are needed in order to understand the conceptual problems raised by quantum mechanics. No mathematical background is assumed except familiarity with elementary algebra and the use of scientific formulae and notation.

Estructura y contenidos:
1. Structure and interpretation of classical mechanics.
2. Introduction to quantum mechanics.
3. Features of the quantum world: uncertainty, non-locality, contextuality.
4. The measurement problem or the problem of experience.
5. Interpretations of quantum mechanics I: Collapse theories.
6. Interpretations of quantum mechanics II: Bohmian mechanics.
7. Interpretations of quantum mechanics III: Many worlds and other no collapse interpretations.
8. Contemporary debates on the metaphysics of quantum mechanics.


Typically, each session will consist of two parts: a lecture by the teacher and a seminar-style discussion of previously read material. The second part will also be used for brief oral presentations of the students. Attendance is mandatory.


Evaluation will be on the basis of attendance, contributions to the discussions, the oral presentation and a final exam.


Albert, D., 1994, Quantum Mechanics and Experience, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
 Barrett, J. A., 1999, The Quantum Mechanics of Minds and Worlds, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 Hughes, R.I.G., 1989, Structure and Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
 Redhead, M.L.G., 1989, Incompleteness, Nonlocality and Realism, Oxford: Clarendon Press.