Caspar Jacobs, Marta Bielinska Winners of Du Châtelet Prize 2023
The Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics is awarded annually for previously unpublished work in philosophy of physics by a graduate student or junior scholar. The prize celebrates excellence in philosophy of physics, and promotes breadth across the field both historically and philosophically.
More info: Du Châtelet Prize, Duke Trinity College of Arts and Sciences
Announcement by Katherine Brading, Director, Program in History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine
The winners of the 2023 Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics are:
Marta Bielinska and Caspar Jacobs for their paper
“A Philosophical Introduction to Hidden Symmetries in Physics”
Congratulations Marta and Caspar!
Marta’s and Caspar’s paper investigates examples of so-called “hidden symmetries”, widely used in physics, arguing that such symmetries pose new challenges for philosophical accounts of symmetries and for “symmetry-to-reality” inferences.
The topic of this year’s prize was Laws and symmetries in the practice of physics. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Nancy Cartwright’s highly influential book, How the Laws of Physics Lie. In honor of this, we invited submissions addressing the ways laws and symmetries are deployed in the practice of doing physics: in experiment, in theory, and in the interplay between them. The scope was intended to be broad, encompassing the variety of theoretical, practical, and explanatory roles that laws and symmetries play in physics.
Caspar is currently a university lecturer at Leiden University. He defended his DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2021 with a dissertation on the interpretation of symmetries in physics. In addition to his work on symmetries, Caspar is also interested in the metaphysics of quantities and early modern history and philosophy of science, especially the work of Du Châtelet.
Marta is currently a doctoral student at the University of Oxford. Before this, she completed, also at the University of Oxford, the MSc in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics (2022) with a dissertation on hidden symmetries, and the BPhil in Philosophy (2021) with a dissertation on spacetime orientability. In addition to her work on foundations of spacetime, she is also interested in philosophical accounts of laws of nature and scientific practice, as well as contemporary ontology.
About the prize
The Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics celebrates excellence in philosophy of physics and promotes breadth across the field both historically and philosophically. Each year, a prize committee of senior scholars in the field invites submissions on a particular topic. The prize winner receives feedback and support from the committee, and the paper is considered for publication in Studies. The goals of the prize are to support young scholars working in philosophy of physics, to strengthen the historical and philosophical breadth of the field, and to promote some of the very best work being done by students and junior scholars.
- Elena Castellani, Professor in Philosophy of Science, University of Florence
- Nina Emery, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Mount Holyoke College
- Bas van Fraassen, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, San Francisco State University, and McCosh Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, Princeton University
- Marc Lange, Theda Perdue Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with input from Nancy Cartwright.
A big thank you to the committee for all their work, and to all those who submitted such superb papers.
The Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics is supported by Duke University in collaboration with Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.
A workshop honoring this year’s prize winner, and including talks by members of the committee, will be held at Duke University on November 30th – December 1st, 2023. Registration for the workshop is now open. Please register by November 16th.
For more information about the prize and the associated workshop, please contact Katherine Brading: email@example.com
Dr. Katherine Brading
Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy
Director, Program in History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine
201 West Duke Building, Campus Box 90743
Durham, NC 27708