nielslinnemannBienvenue! My name is Niels Linnemann; I am a Philosopher of Physics at the University of Geneva, where I work as a collaborateur scientifique in the group of Prof. Dr. Chris Wüthrich.

From January 2020 to January 2023 I worked and taught in the group of Prof. Dr. Dr. Norman Sieroka. From September 2020 to February 2021, I was also a member of the New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology Project research project at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy (London, Ontario); I remain an affiliated member of the research group of Prof. Dr. Chris Smeenk.

I studied Physics, Maths and Philosophy at Münster (BSc Physics, BSc Mathematics), Lund, Oxford (MSt in Philosophy of Physics) and Cambridge (MASt in Advanced Mathematics/Part III). I became first interested in philosophy of physics after struggling with conceptual questions on the foundations of quantum mechanics (like so many) while still being a physics student in Münster. Now, my major interests within the philosophy of physics lie in the ontology and epistemology of spacetime. Apart from this, I am interested in issues of theory construction, metaphysics of science and meta-metaphysics.

Within my PhD project at the University of Geneva — supervised by Prof. Dr. Christian Wüthrich — I inquired into the basic strategies and conceptual obstacles for formulating a theory of quantum gravity. My thesis entitled “Philosophy of quantum gravity as a philosophy of discovery” investigates the means we have for learning from pre-quantum gravitational theories (general relativity (GR), quantum field theory in curved spacetime (QFT in CST), semi-classical GR, and perturbative quantum GR) about quantum gravity (QG). For this, I analysed main sources of rationales in QG research: (1) the development and implementation of certain physical or mathematical core ideas and constraints (`principles’ such as UV completion, background-independence, minimal length, …), (2) patterns of analogical reasoning, (3) semi-classical heuristics, and (4) ideas on prescriptional theory construction (quantisation in particular). Additionally, I dealt with the question of possible conceptual constraints on formulating a theory of quantum gravity. My research took place within the Swiss National Science Foundation project “New Avenues Beyond Spacetime“ (Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Christian Wüthrich, collaborator: Dr. Karen Crowther); Prof. Dr. Fabrice Correia, Prof. Dr. Richard Dawid, Prof. Dr. Fay Dowker and Prof. Dr. Nick Huggett served on my committee. See here for a visual (short) version of my thesis. During the time of my PhD studies, I was also involved as a fellow in the DFG project Inductive Metaphysics within which I linked to the subproject B1 “Modality in Physics and in Metaphysics” (Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Andreas Bartels, Collaborator: Kian Salimkhani).

Together with Kian Salimkhani, I try to make the philosophy of physics more known in Germany. Among other things, we organise weekend seminars on Philosophy of Physics as well as quarterly lectures. This year’s weekend seminar will concern the Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics. For more information, please click here.

You can contact me via email (nielslinnemann AT aol.com).


Trying to visit a fellow philosopher in the Valais (photo: Vincent Lam)