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dr. S. (Sebastian) de Haro Ollé

Amsterdam University College
Photographer: onbekend

Visiting address
  • Science Park 113
  • Room number: 2.23
Postal address
  • Science Park 113
    1098 XG Amsterdam
  • Profile

    Sebastian De Haro

    Lecturer in philosophy, mathematics and theoretical physics at the Amsterdam University College and the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam.

    During the academic year 2019-2020, I also lecture at the Department of Philosophy of the Free University of Amsterdam. During the winter of 2018-2019, I was a visiting fellow in philosophy at the Black Hole Initiative, Harvard University.

    Tarner scholar in Philosophy of Science and History of Ideas at Trinity College, Cambridge (2015-2020), where I work with Jeremy Butterfield. Member of the Vossius Center for History of Humanities and Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. I did my PhD in theoretical physics in 2001 under Gerard 't Hooft (Nobel Prize in Physics 1999). 

  • Research

    My areas of specialisation are the philosophy of science and the philosophy and history of physics. I am particularly interested in how classical referential semantics can be brought to bear on various questions in philosophy of science. I am interested in the debates about scientific realism, emergence, in questions of empirical under-determination, empirical equivalence, theoretical equivalence, scientific understanding, heuristics, dualities in physics, the relation between science and philosophy, and the philosophy of string theory.

    I have active interests in the history and philosophy of information, the philosophy of technology, and philosophy of mind: on how these fields inform philosophy of science, and on how philosophy of science can be informed by them.

    Scientific Realism. I am developing a response to the pessimistic meta-induction argument against scientific realism. The response brings aspects of intensional semantics to bear on the debate, by noting that meaning is ambiguous between extensions and intensions. The resulting position is a modest scientific realism, according to which one is justified in believing in what confirmed theories say about extensions but not, in general, about intensions. I dub it ‘extensional scientific realism’.

    Emergence. In recent work, I began to develop a framework for emergence in the physical sciences. Namely, I proposed to explicate ontological emergence in terms of the notion of ‘novel reference’, and of an account of interpretation as a map from theory to world. I am interested in the applications of ontological emergence to the emergence of spacetime and the emergence of gravity, and in the possibilities of applying the framework in biology and in chemistry.

    Dualities and philosophy of science. I have also been interested in the contribution of dualities to broader questions in philosophy of science: in particular, their contribution to extant syntactic and semantic construals of empirical equivalence and of empirical under-determination, and on the practical uses of dualities—what I have called the ‘heuristic function’ of dualities.

    Scientific understanding and history of black holes. I work on scientific understanding (with Henk de Regt) and on other aspects of the epistemology of science. With Jeroen van Dongen, I work on the history and philosophy of black holes, from the late 1960s to the most recent developments.

    Philosophy of physics. My research in philosophy of physics focusses on dualities, the equivalence of theories, and the philosophy of string theory. I have recently worked out (with Jeremy Butterfield) a schema for dualities that can we have applied in various examples. We have also explored the connections between duality and symmetry. In upcoming work, I explain the contribution of the recent schema for duality to discussions of theoretical equivalence.

    See my recent list of publications and activities under a separate tab. My full list of publications is linked to below.

    Full List of Publications

    See my full list of publications on Google scholar. For a partial list of publications and activities, see the separate tab.

    Some recent selected activities:

    Some Recent Talks for a General Audience

    • Physics, Metaphysics, and Emergence. Conference 'Can Science Shape a New Humanity?', London, 6 January, 2018.
    • Changing Views on Space, Time and Spacetime, Amsterdam Philosophy Festival Drift, 13 May, 2017. Joint talk delivered with F.A. Muller.
  • Teaching

    Recent undergraduate theses supervised:

    • Ben Simons (2019), Aesthetic Rupture in the Space of Appearance.
    • Bram Kicken (2019), Understanding General Relativistic Under-determination of Cosmology by Means of an Ontological Correspondence.
    • Mira Verbeeck (2019), Soft Hair on Black Holes, and an Extension to the Black Hole Information Paradox.
    • Jasper Roosmale Nepveu (2018), Theories of massive vector fields: the Stueckelberg mechanism and the Higgs mechanism.
    • Khaled Tamimy (2018), Random Matrices and the Topological Expansion: A Case Study of the Saddle Point Method for Hermitian One-Matrix Models.
    • Sytze Bouma (2018), It's About Time. Rethinking philosophies of the passage of time (awarded 'thesis of distinction').
    • Samir Khan (2018), The Human in Alfred North Whitehead’s Cosmology.
    • Declan Jagt (2017), Different Strings and Different Behaviour: A comparison of the motion of fundamental and classical strings.
    • Basil van Wijk (2017), The Yukawa Model in a Field Theoretical Perspective.
    • Elena Dobretsova (2017), The Analysis of Secure Cryptographic Methods in Quantum Key Distribution Applied Over Long Distances.
    • Elio Monaco (2017), The WKB-Kemble one-dimensional model: Estimating the e ects of quantum tunneling in nuclear fusion.
    • Yolanda Murillo (2016), Three Interpretations for a Single Physical Reality.
    • Louis Leestemaker (2016), The Theory and Detection of Gravitational Waves (awarded 'thesis of distinction').
    • Kamiel Mobach (2016), Reconstructing Entropy from Objective Probabilities.
    • Paul Verhagen (2015), Understanding the Theory of Everything: Evaluating Criticism Aimed at String Theory.
    • Jens Maluck (2013), An Introduction to Supersymmetric Quantum Mechanics and Shape Invariant Potentials (awarded 'thesis of distinction').
    • Davide Dispenza (2013), Symmetry Breaking and the Higgs Mechanism.
    • Thomas Nutz (2013), The Instanton Approach to Quantum Gravity.
    • Djuna Croon (2012), The Holographic Framework for the Coleman-De Luccia Instanton (awarded 'thesis of distinction').
    • Stefano Lorini (2012), On the Emergence of Spacetime and the Origin or Gravity.
    • Emma Winkels (2012), The Black Hole Information Paradox.
    • Onno Huygen (2012), The Superconductor as a Hologram.
    • Stefan van der Sterren (2012), Black Hole Entropy.

    Theses (MA, MSc):

    Generally, I will supervise theses on one of the two following broad topics:

    • Philosophy of physics and philosophy of science
    • General philosophy 
    • History of science
    • Gauge/gravity dualities and the Holographic Principle
    • Topological Quantum Field Theory
    • Quantum Information and Origin of Gravity


  • Publications


    • Castellani, E., & De Haro , S. (Accepted/In press). Duality, Fundamentality, and Emergence. In D. Glick, G. Darby, & A. Marmodoro (Eds.), The Foundation of Reality: Fundamentality, Space and Time Oxford University Press.
    • De Haro, S. (2018). The Heuristic Function of Dualities. Synthese.
    • De Haro, S., & Butterfield, J. N. (2018). A Schema for Duality, Illustrated by Bosonization. In J. Kouneiher (Ed.), Foundations of Mathematics and Physics One Century After Hilbert: New Perspectives (pp. 305-376). Cham: Springer.
    • De Haro, S., & de Regt, H. W. (2018). A precipice below which lies absurdity? Theories without a spacetime and scientific understanding. Synthese.
    • De Haro, S., & de Regt, H. W. (2018). Interpreting Theories without a Spacetime. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 8(3), 631–670. [details]








    • de Haro, S., Henke, J., & Tang, D. (2015). A. Cappelli, E. Castellani, F. Colomo and P. Di Vecchia (Eds.): The Birth of String Theory: [Review of: A. Cappelli, E. Castellani, F. Colomo, P. Di Vecchia (2012) The Birth of String Theory]. Foundations of Physics, 45(6), 657-660. [details]


    • De Haro, S. (2016). Prize competition for essays on Space and Time after Quantum Gravity.
    • De Haro, S. (2015). The Tarner scholarhsip, Trinity College, Cambridge.

    Talk / presentation

    • De Haro, S. (speaker) (19-10-2018). Towards a Theory of Emergence in the Physical Sciences, Boston Colloquium for Philosophy of Science, Boston University, USA.


    • De Haro, S. (participant) (2-11-2018). Equivalence and Duality of Physical Theories, Seattle, United States. Symposium organiser (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • De Haro, S. (visiting researcher) (12-10-2018 - 28-2-2019). Harvard University (visiting an external institution).
    • De Haro, S. (participant) (10-7-2018). Foundations 2018. Member of the programme committee. (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • De Haro, S. (participant) (24-8-2017). Duality, Equivalence, and Emergence, Munich, Germany. Symposium organiser (organising a conference, workshop, ...).


    • De Haro, S. (2013). Science and Philosophy: A Love-Hate Relationship.
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    No known ancillary activities