Dean Rickles

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Background independence is generally considered to be ‘the mark of distinction’ of general relativity. However, there is still confusion over exactly what background independence is and how, if at all, it serves to distinguish general relativity from other theories. There is also some confusion over the philosophical implications of background independence,(More)
In this chapter we consider economic systems, and in particular financial systems, from the perspective of the physics of complex systems (i.e. statistical physics, the theory of critical phenomena, and their cognates). This field of research is known as econophysics—alternative names are ‘financial physics’ and ‘statistical phynance.’ This title was coined(More)
The dominance of string theory in the research landscape of quantum gravity physics (despite any direct experimental evidence) can, I think, be justified in a variety of ways. Here I focus on an argument from mathematical fertility, broadly similar to Hilary Putnam’s ‘no miracles argument’ that, I argue, many string theorists in fact espouse. String theory(More)
In this paper I look at causality in the context of intervention research, and discuss some problems faced in the evaluation of causal hypotheses via interventions. I draw attention to a simple problem for evaluations that employ randomized controlled trials. The common alternative to randomized trials, the observational study, is shown to face problems of(More)
‘Quantum Gravity’ does not denote any existing theory: the field of quantum gravity is very much a ‘work in progress’. As you will see in this chapter, there are multiple lines of attack each with the same core goal: to find a theory that unifies, in some sense, general relativity (Einstein’s classical field theory of gravitation) and quantum field theory(More)
Where does the study of the flow of time belong: physics, the cognitive sciences, philosophy, or somewhere else? Physicists and philosophers have set themselves up into two camps: those who believe there is genuine flow or becoming in the world and those who believe there is just a block of events. What had not been considered is whether the subjective(More)
Many of the advances in string theory have been generated by the discovery of new duality symmetries connecting what were once thought to be distinct theories, solutions, processes, backgrounds, and more. Indeed, duality has played an enormously important role in the creation and development of numerous theories in physics and numerous fields of(More)
In this chapter I consider what recent work on background independent physics can do for structuralism, and what structuralism can do for background independent physics. I focus on the problems of time and observables in gravitational physics. The ‘frozen’ character of the observables of general relativity is usually considered to constitute a serious(More)