Past events 2010 – 2014

Probabilty and Time Travel :: Alastair Wilson

Thursday 20th November, 2014
Sydney University

If time travel is possible, what are the chances of it taking place? How likely to occur are casual loops - such as your travelling back into the past to give your earlier self the blueprints for a time machine? Is there any chance of you killing your own grandfather and thereby preventing your own existence? Drawing from both physics and philosophy,the project will mount two inter-disciplinary workshops on these issues: The first in Sydney and one in Birmingham

Propositions and Same-Saying workshop :: Macquarie University, 18 January 2010

This workshop was organized by the Centre for Time's Rachael Briggs, in conjunction with Albert Atkin and Mark Jago (Macquarie). Further details here.

Workshop on Decision and Causation :: Sydney, 30 April 2010

This one-day research workshop was organised by Arif Ahmed (Cambridge), Lise Marie Andersen (Macquarie) and Huw Price, in conjunction with Dr Ahmed's visit to the Centre for Time. Further details are available here.

Engaging McDowell :: Sydney, 12-13 July 2010

The Centre for Time was pleased to be a co-sponsor for a visit to Australia by the distinguished Pittsburgh philosopher, Professor John McDowell. Speakers at this meeting included Nishi Shah (Amherst), Jenann Ismael (Sydney/Arizona), Julia Tanney (Kent), Robert Hanna (Colorado), Melissa Merritt (UNSW), Paul Redding (Sydney), Candace Vogler (Chicago), Pamela Heironymi (UCLA), Markos Valaris (UNSW), Nick Smith (Macquarie), David Macarthur (Sydney), Lionel Shapiro (Sydney/UConn) and Huw Price (Sydney), as well as John McDowell himself. Further details here. Recordings from this event are available for download here.

PIAF Workshop in Foundations :: Brisbane, 1–3 December, 2010

This workshop continued a series of meetings in conjunction with the PIAF Collaboration, which links the Centre for Time, together with researchers in the School of Physics and the HPS Unit at the University of Sydney, and at the University of Queensland and Griffith University, to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Canada.

Summer Workshop on Causation :: Sydney, 13–14 January, 2011

This meeting was held in conjunction with a visit to the Centre for Time by the world-renowned Berkeley psychologist, Professor Alison Gopnik. Further details are available here, and recordings from this meeting are available here.

Naturalism Without Mirrors :: Zurich, 9–10 May, 2011

This conference focussed on Huw Price's new collection, Naturalism Without Mirrors (OUP, 2011). The meeting was organised by Anton Leist (Universität Zürich) and Huw Price, with sponsorship from the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, Oslo, and the Pragmatic Foundations Project of the Centre for Time. Further details here.

Expressivism, Projection and Rules :: Sydney, 29 June – 1 July, 2011

Speakers at the third in our biennial series of conferences on Expressivism, Pragmatism and Representationalism included Bob Brandom (Pittsburgh), Matthew Chrisman (Edinburgh), Paul Horwich (NYU), Jenann Ismael (Arizona), James Ladyman (Bristol), John MacFarlane (Berkeley), John Maier (ANU/Sydney), Huw Price (Sydney), Greg Restall (Melbourne), Michael Ridge (Edinburgh), Lionel Shapiro (UConn), Amie Thomasson (Miami) and Michael Williams (Johns Hopkins). The meeting explored some of the same themes as the two previous EPR conferences (details of which are available here and here); with a particular focus on expressivist approaches to modality, and associated issues. Further information is available here.

Cambridge Pragmatism :: Cambridge, 31 May – 1 June, 2012

Pragmatists approach philosophical problems by enquiring about the practical role of disputed notions – truth, causation, value, or necessity, for example – in human life. Over the past century, many distinguished Cambridge philosophers have been pragmatists in one sense or another. This research workshop, supported by the Pragmatic Foundations Project, aimed to explore this distinctive Cambridge philosophical tradition. Further details are available here.

Jaan Tallinn on Existential Risk at Sydney Ideas :: 17 July 2012

A public lecture by Jaan Tallinn, one of the founding engineers of Skype, on possible cataclysmic risks of Artificial Intelligence. Further details at Sydney Ideas.

Do We Need a Physics of 'Passage'? :: Capetown, 10 – 14 December, 2012

This meeting is the first conference of our new Templeton-funded project, New Agendas for the Study of Time. It will brought together distinguished philosophers, physicists, psychologists and linguists, to ask whether the passage of time is a missing ingredient in contemporary physics.

Conference Videos:
Click Here

Carlo Rovelli: Online Talks 2013

Videos of talks from the first conference of the project are now online. Our keynote speaker was Carlo Rovelli – his talk can be viewed here:

Watch Here

Time Symmetry: A Unified Approach, August 29-30, 2013

A two-day international conference on the philosophy of time symmetry

The underlying laws of physics are largely symmetric in time, and yet time-asymmetric concepts are pervasive throughout different areas of philosophical study. For instance, causes are believed to precede their effects in time and not vice versa, our knowledge of the past differs in form from our knowledge of the future, we believe we can influence the future but not the past, we dread or look forward to future events but not past events, etc. This conference looks at time symmetries and asymmetries in physics, causation, probability and agency, and their commonalities.

Free Will and Retrocausality in a Quantum World, July 2014

A Conference held under the auspices of the JTF-funded project, New Agendas for the Study of Time

For Conference Videos:
Click Here

Why retrocausality - and why free will?

The classic motivation for retrocausal models in QM stems from Bell's Theorem, and the nonlocality to seems to entail.

Nonlocality is often felt to be counterintuitive in itself, and the source of an unresolved tension between quantum theory and special relativity. As Bell himself described the implications of his famous result “It's a deep dilemma, and the resolution of it will not be trivial ... he cheapest resolution is something like going back to relativity as it was before Einstein, when people like Lorentz and Poincaré thought that there was an aether a preferred frame of reference but that our measuring instruments were distorted by motion in such a way that we could not detect motion through the aether.

As Bell was well aware, the dilemma can be avoided if the properties of quantum systems are allowed to depend on what happens to them in the future, as well as in the past. Like most researchers interested in these issues, however, Bell felt that the cure would be worse than the disease he thought that this kind of “retrocausality” would conflict with free will, and with assumptions fundamental to the practice of science. He said that when he tried to think about retrocausality, he “lapsed into fatalism”.If this objection to retrocausality in QM is well founded, it raises interesting issues about the nature and origins of this "free will", that turns out to play such a surprising role in the foundations of physics. If the objection is not well founded, then it is high time it is moved aside, so that the retrocausal approach can be given the attention it otherwise seems to deserve. Moreover, there are other motivations for exploring retrocausal models in QM, some the focus of considerable current research. Examples include:

* The proposed retrocausal explanation of the results of the 'weak measurement' by Aharonov, Vaidman and others.
* The relevance of retrocauslity to the issue of the viability of an 'epistemic' interpretation of the quantum state, especially in the light of recent results such as the PBR Theorem.
* Recent work throwing new light on the relation between retrocasuality in QM, on the one hand, and the time-symmetry and other symmetries, on the other.

For these reasons, too, there is a pressing need for a better understanding of notions of free will and causality, and of their relevance to the retrocausal The papproach to the quantum world. This conference brought together many of the leading writers and researchers on these topics, to discuss these issues.

For Further information on the Conference:
Click Here

Lars Boenke, Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology

Thursday 7th August, 3pm

Griffith Taylor Bldg 462,
University of Sydney

Spontaneous oscillatory dynamics in α and β-band power during a spatialized auditory and visual temporal order judgment task - a challenge for the “gating through inhibition” framework?