WP6 Philosophical and societal challenges of quantum technologies

Social and Human sciences / Physics
(Coordinator: S. Louvel). Here we aim to explore philosophical questions raised by the quantum world as well as societal challenges posed by quantum technologies, in particular the issue of integrating citizens in the technological and scientific choice processes.

Quantum metaphysics

Quantum physicists led by A. Auffeves in collaboration with the philosopher N. Farouki (CEA) have been studying the connections between quantum physics and philosophy, during Journal Clubs and informal meetings. They are currently publishing in journals specific to quantum foundations [AG15,AG16a,AG16b, Bra14a], and regular top level physics journals [Bra13,Bra14b,Bra15,RBB+14].  We will build on this already existing physics/philosophy interface to explore in particular (i) quantum ontology which studies the ontological or epistemological nature of quantum states and implications for the philosophical concept of reality, (ii) quantum causality which studies the effect of causal superposition allowed by quantum formalism on the philosophical concept of causality (such superpositions may be exploited for computing purposes in connection with WP2), and (iii) quantum thermodynamics which studies epistemological versusc ontological randomness, and the thermodynamic arrow of time (in connection with WP5).

Societal challenges and democratization of technological choice processes

Upstream interactions between physicists, engineers and philosophers and sociologists during the development of quantum applications will be a unique opportunity (i) to probe in an interdisciplinary way the various uses and stakeholders of quantum technologies and identify possible controversial societal impacts, (ii) to analyse sociologically the “endogenisation of problems of uses”, that is how scientists or engineers are influenced by their anticipation of the societal impacts of their work, (iii) to consider, in our democratic societies, the value added by integrating citizens in scientific and technological choice processes.

This builds on the activities of sociologists and philosophers [Rup,GR16,Kit01] (PPL, PACTE & institutions abroad) in the ANR  project (2015-2018) coordinated by S. Ruphy (DEMOCRASCI: Epistemological foundations and principles for the democratization of the governance of science).


2 PhD grants. We shall encourage twinned PhDs [Physics/Philosophy], PhDs "embarked" in the lab [Philosophy/Sociology]. The recruitment of an international expert on a part-time Chair of Excellence can be considered.


All along the project: Monthly open meetings on quantum foundations

  • M6.1 (T0+12) Workshop on quantum ontology and causality
  • M6.2 (+48) Propositions on what is the relevant locus of public engagement


  • [Lam15] V. Lam (2015) Primitive Ontology and Quantum Field Theory. Euro. J. Philos. Sci. 5(3): 387-397. S. Ruphy. Scientific Pluralism Reconsidered. Pittsburgh University Press. 2016 (173 pages).
  • [AG15] A. Auffèves and P. Grangier, Contexts, Systems and modalities, a new ontology for quantum mechanics, Foundations of Physics, Foundations of Physics, 46(2), 121-137 (2015);
  • [AG16a] A. Auffèves and P. Grangier, Donner du sens à la mécanique quantique, Journal du CNRS, Février-Mars 2016
  • [AG16b] Alexia Auffèves, Philippe Grangier, Violation of Bell’s inequalities in a quantum realistic framework, International Journal of Quantum Information 13, 1640002 (2016).
  • [Bra13] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110 (17), 6742-6747
  • [Bra14a] C. Branciard, Incertitude Quantique, La Recherche 492, Octobre 2014
  • [Bra14b] C. Branciard, Physical review letters 113 (2), 020409
  • [Bra15] http://phys.org/news/2015-11-quantum-superposition-events.html
  • [Rup] S. Ruphy “La science doit-elle être autonome pour être utile?”, in Science, Philosophie, Société
  • [GR16] A. Guay et S. Ruphy (Eds.), PUFC, 2016, forthcoming.  
  • [Kit01] KITCHER Philip. Science, vérité et démocratie. Trad. de l’anglais 2001 par Stéphanie RUPHY. Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 2010.
  • [RBB+14] Ringbauer et al, Physical review letters 112 (2), 020401

Published on January 23, 2018