Karim P Y Thébault

I am an Associate Professor (formerly Reader) in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bristol and an external member of the  Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (LMU Munch). I am a founding Trustee and current President of the Philosophy of Physics Society.

My current research is principally within physics and the philosophy of physics. My main research focus is the problem of time in classical and quantum theories of gravity. Further topics of current interest include dynamical approaches to symmetry, black hole physics, analogue gravity, quantum cosmology, the arrow of time in quantum theory, and the foundations of general relativity.

I have previously worked on various topics in the epistemology and methodology of natural and social sciences.

I am keen to support the applications of students for doctoral studies relating to technically informed projects in the philosophy and foundations of physics. If you have the appropriate background and interests please contact me.  

google scholar



Why Trust a Theory?

Collection of essays on the epistemology of fundamental physics edited with Radin Dardashti and Richard Dawid. (CUP, 2019), online access  print (DOI:10.1017/9781108671224)

Analogue Quantum Simulation

Monograph on the epistemology of analogue quantum simulation with Dominik Hangleiter and Jacques Carolan. (Springer, 2022), online and print (ISBN: 978-3-030-87216-8)



[35] Spacetime Conventionalism Revisited, with Ufuk Tasdan.  2023 preprint

[34] Explanatory Depth in Primordial Cosmology: A Comparative Study of Inflationary and Bouncing Paradigms, with Will Wolf.  British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 2023 preprint published

[33] Big Bang Singularity Resolution In Quantum Cosmology, Classical and Quantum Gravity, 2023. preprint published (DOI: 10.1088/1361-6382/acb752)

[32] How to engineer a quantum wavefunction, with P. Evans and D. Hangleiter, 2021. preprint

[31] On Mach on Time, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 89:84-102, 2021.
preprint published (DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2021.08.001)

[30] What can bouncing oil droplets tell us about quantum mechanics?, with P. Evans, European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10(49) 2020. preprint published

[29] What science can do for democracy – A complexity science approach, with T. Eliassi-Rad, H. Farrell, D. Garcia, S.Lewandowsky, P. Palacios, D. Ross, D. Sornette and K. Wiesner,  Humanities & Social Sciences Communications 7(30) 2020. preprint published

[28] On the Limits of Experimental Knowledge, with P. Evans, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A378(2177) 2020preprint published (DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2019.0235)

[27] On the Universality of Hawking Radiation, with S. Gryb and P. Palacios, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (forthcoming). preprint published (DOI: 10.1093/bjps/axz025)

[26] Hawking radiation and analogue experiments: a Bayesian analysis, with R. Dardashti, S. Hartmann, and E. Winsberg, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. 67:1-11, 2019. preprint published (DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsb.2019.04.004)

[25] Is there a Bayesian justification of hypothetico-deductive inference?, with S. Okasha, Noûs (online). preprint published (DOI: 10.1111/nous.12277)

[24] Bouncing unitary cosmology I. Mini-superspace general solution, with S. Gryb, Classical and Quantum Gravity  36(3), 2019. preprint published (DOI: 10.1088/1361-6382/aaf823)

[23] Bouncing unitary cosmology II. Mini-superspace phenomenology, with S. Gryb, Classical and Quantum Gravity 36(3), 2019. preprint published (DOI: 10.1088/1361-6382/aaf837)
[22] Stability of democracies: a complex systems perspective, with K. Wiesner, A. Birdi, T. Eliassi-Rad, H. Farrell, D. Garcia, S.Lewandowsky, P. Palacios, D. Ross, D. Sornette, European Journal of Physics,  40 014002, 2018. published  (DOI: 10.1088/1361-6404/aaeb4d)

[21] On the Empirical Consequences of the AdS/CFT Duality, with R. Dardashti, R. Dawid, and S. Gryb, in Beyond Spacetime: The Philosophical Foundations of Quantum Gravity, Huggett, Le Bihan, Matsubara and Wüthrich (Eds.), (CUP), 2020. preprint published (DOI: 10.1017/9781108655705.016)

[20] Superpositions of the cosmological constant allow for singularity resolution and unitary evolution in quantum cosmology, with S. Gryb, Physics Letters B, 784: 324-329, 2018. preprint published (DOI: 10.1016/j.physletb.2018.08.013)

[19] The Problem of Time, in Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics, Knox and Wilson (Eds.), (Routledge), forthcoming. preprint

[18] What can we learn from analogue experiments?, in Why Trust a Theory?, Dardashti, Dawid and Thébault (Eds.),(CUP), 2019. preprint published (DOI: 10.1017/9781108671224.014)

[17] Models on the move: migration and imperialism, with S. Bradley,Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 77: 81-92, 2019. preprint published (DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2017.11.008)

[16] Modelling inequality, with S. Bradley and A. Reutlinger, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 69(3): 691–718, 2018. preprint published (DOI: 10.1093/bjps/axw028)

[15] Confirmation via analogue simulation: what dumb holes could tell us about gravity, with R. Dardashti and E. Winsberg, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 68(1):55-89, 2017. preprint published (DOI: 10.1093/bjps/axv010)

[14]  Ψ-Epistemic Quantum Cosmology?, with P. Evans and S. Gryb Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 56, 2016. preprint published (DOI:10.1016/j.shpsb.2016.10.005)

[13] Regarding the `hole argument’ and the `problem of time’, with S. Gryb, Philosophy of Science, 83(4): 563-584, 2016. preprint published (DOI: 10.1086/687262)

[12] Time remains, with S. Gryb, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science,  67(3):663-705,2016. preprint published (DOI: 10.1093/bjps/axv009)

[11] Schrödinger evolution for the universe: reparametrization, with S. Gryb, Classical and Quantum Gravity, 33 (6), 2016. preprint published (DOI: 10.1088/0264-9381/33/6/065004)

[10] Quantization as a guide to ontic structureBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 67(1): 89-114, 2016. preprint published (DOI: 10.1093/bjps/axu023)

[9] Dispositions and the principle of least action revisited, [with B. Smart]
Analysis,  75(3):386-395, 2015preprint published (DOI: 10.1093/analys/anv050)

[8] Many worlds: incoherent or decoherent?, with R. Dawid, Synthese, 192(5): 1559-1580, 2015,
preprint published (DOI:10.1007/s11229-014-0650-8)
[7] Against the empirical viability of the Deutsch-Wallace-Everett approach to quantum mechanics, with R. Dawid, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 47, 2014. preprint published (DOI:10.1016/j.shpsb.2014.05.005)

[6] Unsharp humean chances in statistical physics: a reply to Beisbart, with L. Glynn, R. Dardashti, and M. Frisch, In New Directions in the Philosophy of Science (Springer), Volume 5, pp 531-542, 2014. preprint published (DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-04382-1_37)

[5] Symmetry and evolution in quantum gravity, with S. Gryb, Foundations of Physics, 44(3): 305–348, 2014. preprint published (DOI:10.1007/s10701-014-9789-x)

[4] Three denials of time in the interpretation of canonical gravity, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 43(4):277-294, 2012. preprint published (DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2011.03.031)

[3] The role of time in relational quantum theories, with S. Gryb, Foundations of Physics, 42(9):1210-1238, 2012. preprint published (DOI:10.1007/s10701-012-9665-5)

[2] Symplectic reduction and the problem of time in nonrelativistic mechanics, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 63(4):789-824, 2012. preprint published (DOI: 10.1093/bjps/AXR045)

[1] Symmetry, reduction and quantisation ; how should we interpret quantum Hamiltonian constraints? Symmetry, 3(2):134-154, 2011. open access (DOI:10.3390/sym3020134)


Book reviews

[2] The disunity of philosophy of science as a worrying hypothesis, Review of ‘Physical Theory: Method and Interpretation’ edited by Lawrence Sklar International Studies in Philosophy of Science, (forthcoming), preprint

[1] Review of `Geometric Possibility’ by Gordon Belot,Philosophy in Review, 32(2), 2012
open access


Old Preprints

Analogue quantum simulation: a philosophical prospectus, with D. Hangleiter and J. Carolan. preprint  

On the metaphysics of least action, with B. Smart. preprint



Symmetry, ontology and the problem of time: on the interpretation and quantisation of Canonical Gravity. University of Sydney, 2012. Supervisors Dean Rickles and Huw Price. Final Version