Katherine Brading

St. Hugh’s CollegeUniversity of Oxfordemail: katherine.brading@st-hughs.ox.ac.uk


B.Sc., Physics and Philosophy, First Class Honours

King’s College London, University of London, October 1989 – June 1992

Philosophy options: Philosophy of Science; Descartes, Locke, Berkeley; Metaphysics and Epistemology; Philosophy of Mind; Philosophical Logic.

Physics specialisations: Quantum, Nuclear, and Particle Physics

Thesis: ‘Reconsidering the Disenchantment of the World’, tracing our interpretations of Newtonian physics and quantum physics as objective reality and social metaphor in the context of the evolving intellectual climate from pre-Enlightenment to the present day.

B.Phil., Philosophy

University of Oxford, October 1994 – June 1996

Short Essay Papers:

– Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Physics

– Seventeenth-Century Physics

– Philosophical Logic and Philosophy of Language

Thesis: ‘The Metaphysics of Causation’. Causal concepts are frequently used in discussions of physics (for example, in philosophy of quantum mechanics, philosophy of special relativity, discussions of ‘fundamental forces’, and so forth). The lack of an agreed philosophical elucidation of the concept makes such discussions more difficult. In my thesis I explore the dominant modern proposals, demonstrating shared weaknesses and putting forward my preferred approach. This thesis was conceived as a pre-requisite for further work in philosophy of physics.

D.Phil., Philosophy

University of Oxford, October 1997 – present

Thesis: ‘Noether’s Theorem and the Status and Significance of Symmetries and Conserved Quantities in Physics’

Supervisor: Dr. H. R. Brown

Scholarships and Studentships

October 1994 – June 1996

British Academy Studentship

October 1999 – December 2000

British Academy Studentship

October 1999 – October 2000

Eunice Dutoil Turner Scholar in Philosophy, St Hugh’s College

Teaching and Organization

Undergraduate tutorials:

I have been giving undergraduate tutorials in Oxford since 1997.

Philosophy of Physics: Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence (Brasenose, Balliol); Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics (St Hugh’s, Brasenose, Pembroke); Philosophy of Special Relativity (Brasenose, Pembroke).

Philosophy of Science (St Hugh’s, Pembroke, Brasenose)

Philosophy of Psychology (Pembroke, St Anne’s)

Descartes’ ‘Meditations’ (St Anne’s)

Philosophy of Language (St Hugh’s)

I have also given general philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, and metaphysics tutorial programmes for visiting U.S. students, including those on the Stanford University programme.

Undergraduate classes:

Descartes’ Meditations: introductory discussion classes, revision classes (St Anne’s)


Visiting Lecturer, University of Concordia, Canada, January 2000.

Oxford University Department of Continuing Education, two courses, each a series of 10 two-hour lectures/classes.

‘Philosophy and the Physical Sciences’

(Michaelmas 1997, in Oxford and Newbury; Michaelmas 1998 in High Wycombe)

‘All Alone in the Universe: Descartes and Newton’

(Michaelmas 1999, in Marlow)

Director of Studies: Dr M Lockwood.

Oxford University Graduate Philosophy of Physics Discussion Group (meets weekly during term-time):

organizer since Hilary 1999.

Workshop on Symmetry in Physics, Oxford, January 2001:

co-organizer with Dr Elena Castellani, University of Florence.

Papers presented:

‘Symmetry in Physics: Noether’s theorem’

University of Oxford, Philosophy of Physics Graduate Seminar, Trinity 1998.

‘Noether’s theorem’

Representations: Philosophy, Art and Science, Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, Stanford University in Florence, March 1999.

‘Philosophy of Physics: the early days of gauge theories’

18th Workshop on Geometrical Methods in Physics, Bialowieza, Poland, July 1999.

‘Which Symmetry? Noether, Weyl, and conservation of electric charge’

Philosophy of Physics Seminar, University of Oxford, November 1999.

University of Western Ontario, Canada, January 2000.

Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, February 2000.

‘All Alone in the Universe: Descartes, Newton, and the Introduction of Isolated Systems into Natural Philosophy’

History and Philosophy of Science Department, University of Cambridge, February 1999. Joint presentation with Dana Jalobeanu.

New Europe College, Bucharest, Romania, April 1999. Joint presentation with Dana Jalobeanu, then Fellow of NEC.

11th International Congress on Logic, Methodology and History of Science, Cracow, Poland, August 1999. Joint presentation with Dana Jalobeanu.

‘All Alone in the Universe: The concept of an isolated system in Descartes and Newton’

As part of the Inter-disciplinary Seminar Series « Les mots pour le dire – La terminologie scientifique », Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, February 2000. Based on joint work with Dana Jalobeanu, and a development of talks given earlier on the same general issue.

‘Galileo’s Ship and Descartes’ Stone: Symmetries and Conservation Laws in Physics’

Annual Joint Symposium of the Mathematics and Philosophy Departments, University of Concordia, Montreal, Canada, January 2000.

‘Philosophy of Physics in Oxford today: From Descartes and Newton to Einstein and Schroedinger’

University of Cluj, Romania, April 1999.


‘The Concept of a Hypothesis in Seventeenth Century Physics’, Krisis, Bucharest, March 2000.

‘Which Symmetry? Noether, Weyl and Conservation of Electric Charge’, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, forthcoming.

Other information:

From 1 October 2000, Katherine will be Junior Research Fellow in History and Philosophy of Science at Wolfson College, Oxford.