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Workshop on the Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics

Organized by the Department of Theoretical Philosophy on Monday 25th of January 2016, in room Omega of the Faculty of Philosophy, Oude Boteringestraat 52, Groningen


Jeff Bub (University of Maryland, USA)
How to Teach Quantum Mechanics to Kids

12:00-12:45: Lunch break
(Lunch during the workshop will be provided on the condition that you register for the workshop.
To register, please send an email to before January 21st.)

Klaas Landsman (Radboud University, the Netherlands)
Free Will and Quantum Mechanics

Jos Uffink (University of Minnesota, USA)
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Relation Revisited

PhD defence Ronnie Hermens

Following the workshop, Ronnie Hermens will defend his PhD thesis Philosophy of quantum probability: An empiricist study of its formalism and logic at 16.15 in the Aula of the Academy Building. All information on Ronnie Hermens's PhD defence


Jeff Bub – How to Teach Quantum Mechanics to Kids

A Popescu-Rohrlich box is an imaginary device that produces a superquantum nonlocal correlation with all the conceptual mysteries of quantum mechanics. Since the concept is easily understandable without the mathematical machinery of Hilbert space, it provides an elegant tool for explaining what is conceptually puzzling about quantum mechanics to non-physicists, even to children. I’ll illustrate how this can be done with a quantum comic, and I’ll conclude with some remarks on the measurement problem from this perspective.

Klaas Landsman - Free Will and Quantum Mechanics

After a brief introduction to the general problem of free will, we survey what (little) quantum mechanics has to say about it. The main technical result in this direction is the so-called Free Will Theorem of Conway and Kochen (Notices of the AMS 56, 226-232, 2009), which we present in the version of Cator and the speaker (Found. Phys. 44, 781-791, 2014, also posted at We subsequently try to relate this version to the general philosophical discussion of free will, especially to the views of David Lewis, along the lines of our recent preprint posted at

Jos Uffink – Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Relation Revisited

Heisenberg's 1927 introduction of the famous uncertainty relation for position and momentum continues to be of interest to authors in mathematical physics and philosophy of physics. This talk will aim to present Heisenberg's original (but very informal) discussion in terms of a gamma-ray microscope and then focus on a recent debate between Ozawa (2004) and Busch, Lahti and Werner (BLW) (2013) on how to formalize the relevant measures of uncertainty (or 'noise', 'error', 'inaccuracy', 'disturbance', etc).
I will argue that Ozawa's claim that, on his choice of such measures, the Heisenberg uncertainty relation fails is based on a mathematically correct but conceptually inadequate choice of measures. At the same time, I will argue that BLW's choice of measures, which seems to vindicate Heisenberg's principle, is also mathematically correct, but conceptually inadequate for a different reason.

Last modified:21 January 2016 12.23 p.m.