I am Professor in the Philosophy Department at Northern Illinois University. I am interested in metaphysics, philosophy of science, especially philosophy of physics.
I am the Philosophy of Science section editor of Philosophy Compass.
I have studied physics and philosophy first in Italy, my home country, and then in the United States. I have worked in the foundations of quantum mechanics, with the aim of understanding how we can use our best physical theory to answer general metaphysical questions about the nature of reality.
In my physics doctoral dissertation (Genova, 2001), I discussed the classical limit of quantum mechanics, to analyze the connections between quantum and classical theories. What does it mean that a theory, in a certain approximation, reduce to another? Is the classical explanation of macroscopic phenomena essentially different from the one provided by quantum mechanics?
In my philosophy doctoral dissertation (Rutgers, 2007), I turned to more general questions that involve the structure of fundamental physical theories, the metaphysical status and the epistemological role of the theoretical entities used in these theories. Do all fundamental physical theories have the very same structure, contrarily to what one might think? If so, what is this telling us about the nature of explanation?
Recently, I have worked on an approach to fundamental physical theories dubbed the primitive ontology approach according to which all fundamental physical theories have a similar structure in mapping the theory mathematical formalism to the objects in the world. The idea is that, very simply, matter is made of three-dimensional things, such as particles, fields or strings. This may not seem much of a discovery when looking a classical theories, but it becomes revolutionary in the quantum domain, where (when interpreted in a realist fashion) it seems more natural to think of matter in terms of the wave function, which is not a three-dimensional object. Please see my research page for my papers on this approach.
For a more informal introduction to my work, you can read the following interview by Richard Marshall for 3:16 AM
- Ph. D., Philosophy, Rutgers University, Fall 2007 (defense date: May 14th, 2007).
“Fundamental Physical Theories: Mathematical Structures grounded on a Primitive Ontology.”
Supervisor: Tim Maudlin (Philosophy Department, Rutgers University). Committee: Frank Arntzenius, Barry Loewer (Philosophy Department, Rutgers University), Sheldon Goldstein (Department of Mathematics, Physics and Philosophy, Rutgers University), David Z. Albert (Philosophy Department, Columbia University).
- Ph. D., Physics, University of Genova (Italy), Fall 2001 (defense date December 5th, 2001).
“Decoherence and the Classical Limit of Quantum Mechanics.”
Supervisor: Nino Zanghi (Physics Department, University of Genova, Italy). Committee: Detlef Duerr (Mathematics Department, University of Munich, Germany), Lodovico Lanz (Physics Department, University of Milano, Italy).
- Certificate in Scientific Communication, University of Milano (Italy), Fall 1999.
- Laurea (M.A.), Physics (Summa cum laude), University of Milano (Italy), Spring 1997 (defense date: March 26 1997).
“Interaction of 12C with 103Rh at Energies greater than 33 MeV/nucleon.” Committee: Ettore Gadioli (supervisor), Claudio Birattari, Roberto Bonetti, University of Milano (Italy).
Area of Specialization
Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics
Area of Competence