Trinity College Cambridge

Jeremy Butterfield


My best e-mail address is: [email protected]

I am a Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. My main research interests are philosophical aspects of quantum theory, relativity theory and classical mechanics.

Most of my papers from recent years can be found at the ‘Los Alamos archive‘ (look under ‘physics’, ‘quant-ph’ and ‘gr-qc’), or at the ‘Pittsburgh Philosophy of Science archive‘. A list of publications is here.

For links and more resources, go to: the Cambridge Quantum Information website, and the Oxford Philosophy of Physics website.

This webpage was last updated on 14 July 2007

Some Recent and Forthcoming Papers

Click on the following, to download as ps or pdf files.

On Symplectic Reduction in Classical Mechanics’, in J. Earman and JNB(eds.) TheHandbook of  Philosophy of Physics, North Holland 2006; 1 – 131. Available

at: physics/0507194 and at

 ‘On Symmetries and Conserved Quantities in Classical Mechanics’, in W. Demopoulos and I. Pitowsky (eds.), Physical Theory and its Interpretation, Springer 2006; 43 – 99; Available at:   physics/0507192  and at

Against Pointillisme in Geometry’, in F. Stadler, M. Stoeltzner (eds.), Time and  History; Proceedings of 28th International Wittgenstein Conference, Ontos Verlag 2006, 181-222. Availableat: or

 Against Pointillisme in Mechanics’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 57, 2006, 709-754. Available at: or

‘The Rotating Discs’ Argument Defeated‘, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 57, 2006, 1-45;

On the Persistence of Particles‘, in Foundations of Physics, 35, 2005, 233-269;; and

On the Persistence of Homogeneous Matter’,  Los Alamos: physics/0406021: Pittsburgh:

Between Laws and Models: Some Philosophical Morals of Lagrangian Mechanics’,  Available at: Los Alamos physics/0409030 and Pittsburgh

David Lewis Meets Hamilton and Jacobi’, in Philosophy of Science, 71, 2004, 1095-1106;

Some Aspects of Modality in Analytical Mechanics‘, in P. Weingartner and M. Stoeltzner (eds), Formale Teleologie und Kausalitat in der Physik, Mentis 2004, 160-198. Available at: and

On Hamilton-Jacobi Theory as a Classical Root of Theory‘, in A. Elitzur, S. Dolev and N. Kolenda (eds.), Quo Vadis Quantum Mechanics?, Springer 2004, 239-273; Los Alamos archive: quant-ph/0210140 and

Topos Theory as a Framework for Partial Truth’, in P. Gardenfors, K. Kijania-Placek and J. Wolenski (ed.s), In the Scope of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science (volume 1),  Kluwer Academic, 2002; 307-329;

Some Worlds of Quantum Theory ’, in R.Russell, J. Polkinghorne et al (ed.), Quantum Mechanics (Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action vol 5), Vatican Observatory Publications, 2002; 111-140. Los Alamos archive: quant-ph/0105052; Pittsburgh: 00000204.

The End of Time?’,  in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 53, 2002, 289-330 (Ostensibly a review of J. Barbour, The End of Time, this is in effect a survey of some Machian themes in dynamics); Los Alamos archive:  gr-qc/0103055; Pittsburgh: 00000104

The State of Physics: Halfway through the Woods‘, The Journal of Soft Computing, 5, 2001, 129-130.

Quantum Curiosities of Psychophysics‘, in Consciousness and Human Identity, ed. J. Cornwell, Oxford University Press, 1998; 122-157. Also at the Pittsburgh archive:00000193

Some Recent and Forthcoming Book Reviews

Decoherence and the Appearance of a Classical World in Quantum Theory by E. Joos, H.D. Zeh et al. in Philosophy of Science and Quantum Mechanics and its Emergent Macrophysics by G. Sewell, Philosophy of Science, 72, 2005, 395-399.

Alternative Logics: Do Sciences Need Them?, Paul Weingartner (ed.), in Contemporary Physics, 46, 2005, 57-58

‘Relativistic Quantum Mechanics’, by Hartmut M. Pilkuhn in Contemporary Physics, 45, 2004, 89.

‘Quantum Dialogue: the Making of a Revolution’, by Mara Beller, in Contemporary Physics, 43, 2002, 230-231.

Quantum Chance and Nonlocality‘, by W.M. Dickson,in Philosophy of Science 68, 2001, 263-266.

The Quantum Mechanics of Minds and Worlds‘, by J. Barrett, in European Journal of Philosophy 9, 2001, 230-233.

The Philosophy of Physics‘, by R. Torretti, in Physics in Perspective, volume 4, 2000.

The Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics‘, D. Dieks and P. Vermaas eds., in Metascience 9, 2000, 489-494.

Interpreting Bodies‘, E. Castellani ed., in Le Scienze 373, 1999, p. 412.

Some Recent Lecture Courses

The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence

The first part of this course (given in 2000), Part A, introduces the philosophy of geometry and motion. The second part, Part B, first gives a potted history of conceptions of space prior to the Correspondence; and then discusses two recent interpretations of Newton’s and Leibniz’s rival conceptions of space: namely, the interpretations of Julian Barbour and Robert Rynasiewicz. (NB: For both parts of the course, the diagrams are missing: one day I’ll do it …)

The Philosophy of Thermal Physics

This course (given in 2000), available here, discusses the philosophical aspects of: first thermodynamics, and then statistical mechanics. The reading list is a separate file. (Again: the diagrams are missing: one day …)