6 February 2023 5pm

Emily Adlam (University of Western Ontario)

On line seminar - to register, please send an email to silvia.debianchi@unimi.it

This video is part of the PROTEUS project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 758145)

Is There Causation in Fundamental Physics?  New Insights from Process Matrices and Quantum Causal Modelling


In this talk I will explore significance of the process matrix formalism and the quantum causal modelling programme for ongoing disputes about the role of causation in fundamental physics. I argue that the process matrix programme has correctly identified a notion of ‘causal order’ which plays an important role in fundamental physics, but this notion is weaker than the common-sense conception of causation because it does not involve asymmetry. I argue that causal order plays an important role in grounding more familiar causal phenomena. Then I apply these conclusions to the causal modelling programme within quantum foundations, arguing that since no-signalling quantum correlations cannot exhibit causal order, they should not be analysed using classical causal models. This resolves an open question about how to interpret fine-tuning in classical causal models of no-signalling correlations. Finally I observe that a quantum generalization of causal modelling can play a similar functional role to standard causal reasoning, but I emphasize that this functional characterisation does not entail that quantum causal models offer novel explanations of quantum processes.