University of Bremen , Germany
Spring Term 2010
Explaining Planck’s Law
Meinard Kuhlmann is currently Associate Professor without tenure at the University of Bremen where he recently finished his Habilitation “On Markets and Magnets: Explanation, Reduction, and Mechanisms in Econophysics ”. His PhD was on the ontology of quantum field theory. In the summer term 2010 he will replace a full professorship for History and Philosophy of Science in Hannover. Meinard had fellowships for research at the University of California at Irvine and the Universities of Chicago and Oxford.
Meinard’s research is focused on the philosophy of physics, analytical ontology and general philosophy of science, in particular explanations and mechanisms. Within the philosophy of physics he is most interested in quantum physics and complex systems. In spring 2010 he will publish a book on “The Ultimate Constituents of the Material World – In Search of an Ontology for Quantum Field Theory”.
While in Pittsburgh Meinard will pursue two research projects which are interconnected by a similar philosophical question concerning the conception(s) of explanations that underlie physical reasoning. The first of his research projects concerns Planck’s law for the spectral distribution of energy in black body radiation. He will investigate whether the armada of more than 20 derivations can be understood by invoking different models of explanation. The second research project concerns the sort of dynamically complex behavior that is investigated in econophysics and other relatively new interdisciplinary fields, where non-physical phenomena such as financial market crashes and congestive heart failure are analyzed by the same methods and research as complex systems in physics. Meinard’s hypothesis is that most explanations for such dynamically complex behavior can be captured by invoking a generalized conception of mechanisms.
In his spare time, Meinard enjoys travelling, going out and sports. He is particularly interested in exploring the wide variety of ethnic food Pittsburgh has to offer.
While I was a Visiting Fellow in Pittsburgh I organized a conference on Philosophy of Physics which took place in Hannover in June 2010. It turned out to be a great success. Papers can (and more will soon) be found in the PhilSci Archive (http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/view/confandvol/2010Popigcsaph1112June2010.html).
Moreover, here are some of my recent publications:
-Why conceptual rigour matters to philosophy: On the ontological significance of algebraic quantum field theory, Foundations of Physics
40/9 (2010) 1625-1637.
-The Ultimate Constituents of the Material World - In Search of an Ontology for Fundamental Physics, ontos-Verlag, Frankfurt 2010.
-Mechanisms in dynamically complex systems, in: McKay Illari, P., Russo, F., and J. Williamson (ed.): Causality in the Sciences, Oxford University Press 2011.