Tian Yu Cao

Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D., University of Cambridge

Interests: Philosophy and History of Science (physics, biology and cognitive sciences), Epistemology, Metaphysics, Social and Political Philosophy, with special interests in philosophical issues related to (classical and global) modernity and postmodernity.

Before coming to Boston University in the fall of 1994, Tian Yu Cao did research at Trinity College (University of Cambridge), Northwestern University, Harvard University, and MIT.

He was a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College and Wolfson College, Oxford (2000-01); a joint member in the School of Natural Sciences and the School of Historical Studies, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) for the academic year 2004-05.

Dr. Cao is currently working on:

The Making of QCD (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press)

Structural Realism (a book-length monograph, soon to be completed).

Philosophical Issues in Quantum Gravity (a book-length monograph, in preparation)

Dr. Cao is author of:

Conceptual Developments of Twentieth Century Field Theories (Cambridge University Press, February 1997); second printing and paperback edition with minor revisions, May 1998; this book was reviewed in more than 20 journals of philosophy, of history and philosophy of science, and of physics, published in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, China and Russia.

From Current Algebra to the Genesis of QCD – A Case for Structural Realism (Cambridge University Press, 2010; paperback edition forthcoming in October 2012).

Dr. Cao is editor of:

Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Field Theory (Cambridge University Press, February, 1999; paperback edition, March, 2004).

Philosophy of Science, vol. X of the Proceedings of the 20th World Congress of Philosophy, August 10-16, 1998. (Philosophical Documentation Center, February 2001).

The Chinese Model of Modern Development (editor; Routledge, May 2005) [the Chinese edition titled Modernization, Globalization and the Chinese Path was published by Social Sciences Documentation Publishing House, Beijing, China, July 2003).

Culture and Social Transformations in Reform Era China (co-editor, with Xueping Zhong and Kebin Liao, Brill, Leiden and Boston; June, 2010; the Chinese edition was published by Zhejiang University Press, June 2006)

Dr. Cao has also published articles on the philosophy, history and sociology of science, as well as other topics of his interests.

Selective publication of Articles:

“Attempts at Reconciling Quantum Field Theory with S-matrix Theory — The Reggeization Program: 1962-82,” The Archive for History of Exact Sciences, 41:3 (1991), 239-283

“Spontaneous Breakdown of Symmetry: Its Rediscovery and Integration into Quantum Field Theory,” with L. M. Brown, Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 21:2 (1991), 211-235.

“The Conceptual Foundations and Philosophical Aspects of Renormalization Theory,” with S. S. Schweber, Synthese, 97:1 (1993), 33-108.

“The Kuhnian Revolution and the Postmodernist Turn in the History of Science,” Physis, Vol. XXX (1993), 477-504.

“The Casimir Effect and the Interpretation of the Vacuum,” with S. E. Rugh and H. Zinkernagel, in Studies in History & Philosophy of Modern Physics, 30(1) (1999), 111-139.

“Prerequisites for a Consistent Framework of Quantum Gravity,” in Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 32(2) (2001), 181-204. (Its Russian translation appeared in Philosophy of Science, 7 (2001): 238-269)

“Structural Realism and the Interpretation of Quantum Field Theory,” in Synthese, 136 (1) (July 2003), 3-24.

“Ontological Relativity and Fundamentality – Is Quantum Field Theory the Fundamental Theory?” in Synthese, 136 (1) (July 2003), 25-30 .

“Can We Dissolve Physical Entities into Mathematical Structures?” in Synthese, 136 (1) (July 2003), 57-71.

“What is Ontological Synthesis? A Reply to Simon Saunders,” in Synthese, 136 (1) (July 2003), 107-126.

“Gauge Theory and the Geometrization of Fundamental Physics,” in Philosophical Foundations of Quantum Field Theory (eds. R. Harré and H. Brown; Oxford U. Press, 1988), 117-133.

“Spontaneous Breaking of Symmetry,” (co-authored with L. Brown, R. Brout, P. Higgs and Y. Nambu, based on a Panel Session at The Third International Symposium on the History of Particle Physics, SLAC, June 24-27, 1992) in The Rise of The Standard Model (eds. L. M. Brown, M. Dresden, L. Hoddeson; Cambridge University Press, 1997), 477-521.

“Postmodernity in Science and Philosophy,” as part of the collection of pamphlets (published both in English and Spanish) and videos (subtitled in Spanish) on The Sciences and Humanities At the Threshold of the 21st Century, (ed. Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, Mexico, 1997).

“Conceptual Issues in Quantum Field Theory,” in Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Field Theory (ed. T. Y. Cao; Cambridge University Press, 1999), 1-27.

“Renormalization Group: An Interesting Yet puzzling Idea,” in Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Field Theory (ed. T. Y. Cao; Cambridge University Press, 1999), 268-286.

“Representation or Construction? An Interpretation of Quantum Field Theory,” in the Proceedings of the 20th World Congress of Philosophy, 129-141.

“Space and Time,” in Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science (ed. John Heilbron, Oxford University Press, 2003).

“Ontology and Scientific Explanation,” in Explanatios (ed. John Conwell, Oxford University Press, 2004), 173-196.

“Modernization, Globalization and the Chinese Path,” in The Chinese Model of Modern Development (ed. T.Y.Cao; Routledge, May 2005), 1-6.

“Theory and Practice of the Chinese Model,” in The Chinese Model of Modern Development (ed. T.Y.Cao; Routledge, May 2005), 293-317.

“Structural Realism and Quantum Gravity,” in Structural Foundation of Quantum Gravity (ed. Steven French, Oxford University Press, forthcoming in December 2006), 42-55.

“Will Einstein Still be the Super-Hero of Physics in 2050?” forthcoming in the Festschrift in Honor of S. S. Schweber (eds. J. Renn and K. Gavroglu, Kluwer, 2006).

Over the years, he has received fellowships and Grants from various institutions:

1985-90 Research Fellowship, Trinity College, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

1990-92 Grant from NSF [Grant DIR-No. 9014412 (4-59070)]

1995-96 Grant from NSF [Grant No. SBR-9529112], in support of the conference on the foundations of quantum field theory, held on March 1-3, 1996.

1996-97 Grant from NSF [Amendment No. 001 to Grant No. SBR-9529112, as a supplement support for the publication of the Proceedings of the conference.]

1999 Award from the Lakatos Foundation for a short visit to the London School of Economics and Political Sciences.

1999 Grant from the Smithsonian Institution for a short visit in June.

2000 (March – August): Senior Smithsonian Institution Fellowship with a research grant.

2001 (June): Grant for a short visit from the Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science, Germany.

2002 Grant from Ford Foundation in support of a three day conference “Modernization, Globalization and the Chinese Path” which was held in Hangzhou, China, July 5-7, 2002; and a supplement in support of the publication of the conference volume in Chinese.

2004-05 Neugebauer Fellowship, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

2006 (May-June) Lakatos Research Fellowship, London School of Economics and Political Science

In addition, Dr. Cao has given more than 100 invited lectures in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Russia, Mexico and China.

Dr. Cao regularly teaches the following courses:

Undergraduate level:
Social Philosophy (PH 253)
Philosophy of Science (PH 270)
History of Science (PH 271)
Philosophical Methods in Human Sciences (PH277)
Marx and Marxism (PH 418)
Philosophy of Cognitive Science (PH 465)
Philosophy of Physics (PH 470)

Graduate level:

Marx and Marxism (PH 618)
Philosophy of Cognitive Science (PH 665)
Philosophy of Physics (PH 670; Space-time, Probability, Quantum)
Seminar on the History of Philosophy of Science (PH 870)
Seminar on Contemporary Issues in the History and Philosophy of Science (PH 871;.