Philosophy of Science Association - Event Information

Event Name:Foundational Problems of Global Structure in Semi-Classical Gravity
Event Type(s):Event
Description:Philosophers and physicists collaboratively address foundational problems in semi-classical gravity and black hole thermodynamics, from information-loss to causal structure and causality to epistemology.
Event Date:7/21/2022 - 7/23/2022
Event Time:9:00 AM - 6:00 PM CET
Location:Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (LMU Munich)
Details:Semi-classical gravity (SCG)---the coupling of the dynamics of quantum fields to the classical spacetime geometry of general relativity by way of the semi-classical Einstein field equation (SCEFE)---is the framework within which black hole thermodynamics is formulated.  As such, it is widely held to provide the most secure theoretical clues to a search for a theory of quantum gravity.  Considered in its own right, however, it already presents us with a plethora of foundational and conceptual problems that require investigation, even over and above the most famous one, Hawking's Information-Loss Paradox.
  • In what sense is it legitimate to think of black holes as thermodynamical systems?
  • What is the causal structure of an evaporating black hole spacetime, and its relation to causality conditions on quantum fields?
  • What is black hole entropy?
  • How does the Generalized Second Law ramify into the host of other problems of fundamental physical and philosophical import that the ordinary Second Law of thermodynamics does?
  • What is the difference between geometry and matter?
  • Are there singularities in the semi-classical regime, and does a form of cosmic censorship hold in it?
  • What role do classical energy conditions and quantum energy inequalities play, and how do they relate to entropy and information?
  • What is holography at the semi-classical level, and what role can or does it play there?
  • What can the epistemology of a field of physics be, completely divorced from experimentation and observation?
This will be the first major conference to address foundational and philosophical issues associated with SCG, and to try to examine how they all bear on each other.  Invited physicists and philosophers have been chosen to represent different approaches to SCG and the many different kinds of conceptual questions it poses (quantum field theory on curved spacetime, emergent gravity, canonical gravity, holography, phenomenology, methodology, epistemology), in an attempt to foster a dialogue among the different fields.  Contributed talks from both physicists and philosophers will be chosen so as to complement the perspectives of the invited speakers.  Such a gathering will spur new, innovative approaches to the problem, as well as connecting and invigorating work on existing approaches. It will also provide young researchers with a comprehensive introduction to the state of the art of this central field of research, and established researchers with a comprehensive overview.

Confirmed Speakers There will also be 4-5 contributed talks from philosophers and physicists chosen so as to complement the approaches of the invited speakers.

Public-health conditions permitting, we will hold the conference in-person, with no video connections, although the talks and Q&A will be recorded (pending agreement by the speakers).  Please send registration requests by 26 June 2022 using the following form: <>

The fees for the conference and dinner are as follows.
  • Senior researchers with permanent positions (associate and full  professors, etc.): conference fee EUR 40
  • Junior researchers (assistant professors, post-docs, etc.): conference fee EUR 25
  • Students (masters, doctoral, etc.): no conference fee
  • Conference dinner (for everyone): EUR 30
The conference will be organized and run under the MCMP's code of conduct <>. 

Gefördert teilweise durch die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) -- Projektnummer 312032894.  (Funded in part by the German Research Foundation (DFG) -- project number 312032894.)  Also supported by the Volkswagen Foundation funding for the Lichtenberg Group for History and Philosophy of Physics at the University of Bonn <>, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Dennis Lehmkuhl.
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7/21/2022 - 7/23/2022
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