The Ontology and Epistemology of Physics

'I may be wrong and you may be right,

and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth.'

Karl R. Popper

Contemporary physicists focus mostly on how successful they are at predicting phenomena and designing new experiments. But physics tells us much more about the world, namely, what the world is made of—even if we cannot directly observe that. Therefore, I'm particularly interested in the following two questions:

Since my time as a PhD student, I have been working on the first question, the ontology of physics. I have analyzed what exists according to quantum mechanics, and I have proposed several ideas of how quantum wave-functions describe reality.  Similarly, I analyzed what exists according to classical electrodynamics, in particular the status of the electromagnetic field. 

Statistics and probabilities play a vital role in explanations and predictions in the sciences. I'm, therefore, interested in investigating how and why probabilities can do that. I have been working on a proposal of how probabilities can be objectively derived from physical theory.

I have recently begun working on the second question, the epistemology of physics, where I explore what it means to understand the physical world. To me, the ontology and epistemology of physics are interrelated disciplines, although they are often practiced separately. Combining both will let us better understand what the world is made of but also the epistemic limitations that we face.

The Four Pillars of My Research


Main Question
What is Matter: Particles, Fields, or Both?


Absorbing the Arrow of Electromagnetic Radiation, (with Charles Sebens).Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, forthcoming.[preprint]
When Fields Are Not Degrees of Freedom, (with Vera Hartenstein).
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 72(1):245-275, 2021.[published version] [preprint]

Quantum Mechanics

Main  Question
What is the Status of the Wave-Function?


Is the Statistical Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics ψ-Ontic or ψ-Epistemic?Foundations of Physics, 53(16):1-23, 2023.
[published version][preprint]

How Quantum Mechanics Can Consistently Describe the Use of Itself, (with Dustin Lazarovici).Scientific Reports, 9(470):1–8, 2019.[published version] [preprint]
The Wave-Function as a Multi-Field, (with Davide Romano).European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 8(3):521–37, 2018.[published version] [preprint]
The Physics and Metaphysics of Primitive Stuff, (with Michael Esfeld, Dustin Lazarovici, and Vincent Lam).The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 68(1):133–61, 2017.[published version] [preprint]

The Ontology of Bohmian Mechanics, (with Michael Esfeld, Dustin Lazarovici, and Detlef Dürr).The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 65(4):773–96, 2014.[published version] [preprint]

Probability Theory

Main Question
Why and How are Probabilities Useful in the Sciences?


Reviving Frequentism.Synthese, 199:5255-5284, 2021.[published version] [preprint]
The History of Moral Certainty as the Pre-History of Typicality.
In  Bassi, A., Goldstein, S., Tumulka, R., and Zanghì, N., editors, Physics and the Nature of Reality: Essays in Memory of Detlef Dürr. Heidelberg: Springer, forthcoming.


Main Question
What Does It Mean to Understand the Physical World?


Towards Ideal Understanding, (with Federica Malfatti).Ergo, forthcoming.

Understanding Physics: ‘What?’, ‘Why?’, and ‘How?’European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 11(3):1-36, 2021.[published version] [preprint]

Work in Progress