I'm looking for recommendations on graduate level books concerning philosophy and physics, or preferably the philosophy of physics. I'm currently reading 'After Physics' by David Albert, and 'The Philosophy of Space and Time' by Hans Reichenbach, and loving them both. I'm particularly interested in the philosophy of time, and of quantum mechanics.

Any favorites, recommendations or advice would be appreciated.

  • 3
    This seems to be a primarily opinion-based question. Plus, it is a very broad question. – Geremia Oct 18 '16 at 20:44
  • "'What is Life?' with Mind and Matter" by Erwin Schroedinger and "Quantum Mechanics and Ultimate Reality: Mystical Writings of Great Physicists" editor Michael Green – Swami Vishwananda Nov 4 '16 at 10:08
  • I think this a duplicate. – Swami Vishwananda Nov 4 '16 at 10:13

Lewens, Tim. The Meaning of Science: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (Basic Books 2016). Tim Lewens writes with remarkable clarity on issues such as inductive logic and the nature of scientific progress. Much of the book deals with human behavior, such as altruism and free will. Perhaps too general for what you are looking for, but recommended.


I am fond of Michel Bitbol works (who I have listened to on the radio a lot). Not all of his books have been translated to English, here is a short list:

  • Mécanique quantique, une introduction philosophique, Champs-Flammarion, 1997
  • Physique et Philosophie de l'Esprit, Champs-Flammarion, 2005.
  • Schrödinger's Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, Kluwer, 1996.
  • Constituting Objectivity: Transcendental Perspectives on Modern Physics, 2009 by Michel Bitbol and Pierre Kerszberg
  • De l'Intérieur du monde, Flammarion, 2010.
  • La conscience a-t-elle une origine?, Flammarion, 2014
  • La pratique des possibles, une lecture pragmatiste et modale de la mécanique quantique, Hermann, 2015

To have a glimpse in English, try "Some steps towards a transcendental deduction of quantum mechanics" Philosophia naturalis, 35, 253-280, 1998, or some online videos.


I don't know about the "best", but here are some suggestions.

Cao's Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Field Theory is a comprehensive book on history and contemporary philosophy of quantum theory.

Penrose's Road to Reality and Smolin's Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next are controversial, but are by philosophizing physicists, and delve into many current topics.

Much of modern epistemology of physics involves a response to or polemic with Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, also controversial in undermining objectivity of physical theories.

On other hot topics I'll recommend long papers (freely available), rather than books:

Isham-Butterfield: On the Emergence of Time in Quantum Gravity

Rickles: Quantum Gravity: A Primer for Philosophers

Timpson: Quantum Bayesianism, on realist and anti-realist ontologies of quantum mechanics.

Wallace: Everett and Structure, this one's short, interprets many worlds in the spirit of structural realism.


From my answer to "What books offer a philosophical interpretation of contemporary physics?":

It is split up into two parts:

pt. I. Philosophy of Nature.

  1. Nature: The Inner Dimension.
  2. Modeling the Inorganic.
  3. Plant and Animal Natures.
  4. The Modeling of Mind.
  5. Human Nature.

pt. II. Philosophy of Science

  1. Defining the Philosophy of Science.
  2. Science as Probable Reasoning.
  3. The Epistemic Dimension of Science.
  4. Conceptual Studies of Scientific Growth.
  5. Controversy and Resolution.

I found the second part particularly interesting because it treats the different schools of philosophy of science and delves into the problems of the logic of scientific demonstration and explanation.

A few other good ones:

See also the resources here.


Omnes Quantum Philosophy is excellent; he's worked on the consistent history interpretation of QM, which this book is an exposition of, but without the messy technical details. He claims it solves most of the outstanding paradoxes to do with the two-slit experiment, but admits it fails to resolve fully measurement; the exposition begins with a dramatisation where he is questioned by the philosophers of ancient Greece, and goes on from there.

Another, is Penroses Cycles of Time, which I'm currently reading but haven't finished; his discussion focuses on how cosmology interacts with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which he considers a deep question but with little serious work done. He also begins with a dramatisation, but this time, with an everyman Tom with his aunt Priscilla, who happens to be an astophysicist on a mountain looking at a river ... and it too goes on from there.

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