Causation and the Physical World

Workshop in Cologne
17-18 June 2016
Universität zu Köln, Alter Senatssaal

DFG Research Group Causation | Laws | Dispositions | Explanation


Friday, June 17

9:30–10:45 Huw Price (Cambridge), “Two Paths to the Paris Interpretation”


11:00–12:15 Mathias Frisch (Hannover), “(Retro-)Causation in Quantum Mechanics”


13:45–15:00 Christian Loew (Cologne), “Defaults and the Direction of Causation”


15:15–16:30 Brad Weslake (NYU Shanghai), “Recent Work on The Direction of Causation”


16:45–18:00 Andreas Hüttemann (Cologne), “Transitive Causation”

19:00 Conference dinner


Saturday, June 18

10:00–11:15 Alison Fernandes (Columbia University), “Causal Asymmetry and the Trouble with Time Travel”


11:30–12:45 Thomas Blanchard (UC-Berkeley and Illinois Wesleyan University), “Physics and the Causal Asymmetry”


14:00–15:15 Jenann Ismael (Arizona), “LaPlacean Intelligences, Determinism and the Causal Order”

Aims and Scope

The place of causation in the physical world is hotly debated. We think of causation as a time-asymmetric dependence relation between relatively localized events. But many of our best physical theories describe the world in terms of dynamical laws that are (perhaps with minor exceptions) time-symmetric and relate very global events. A central problem in the metaphysics of causation, therefore, is how to reconcile the importance of causation for everyday life and the special sciences with how our best physics describes the world.

This workshop aims to clarify the nature of causation and its relation to fundamental physics: How are causes connected to their effects? Is causation an objective feature of reality? What accounts for its time-asymmetry? Can causation be grounded in fundamental physics (perhaps with the help of lawful constraints on the boundary conditions)? And how does causation relate to agency, explanation, counterfactuals, and the direction of time?


All participants are welcome, but please send a short email to by June 1st to let us know you are coming.

Travel Grants

We will be able to offer a restricted number of travel grants (up to 250 Euros each). PhD students and advanced M.A. students are encouraged to apply for these grants by submitting a short letter of motivation (200 words) and a short CV. Please send the applications to

Travel Information