Dr. Sébastien Rivat

Leiter eines Projekts der VolkswagenStiftung

Lehrstuhl für Wissenschaftstheorie, MCMP


Ludwigstraße 31

Raum 124

80539 München


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Persönliche Website


Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1

80539 München

Personal Information

Sébastien Rivat joined the MCMP in 2022 after spending two years (2020-2022) as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. He received his PhD in Philosophy from Columbia University in 2020, where he also taught in the Core Curriculum. Before coming to Columbia, he completed a MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science and a Master's degree in Theoretical Physics (Part III of the Mathematical Tripos) at the University of Cambridge, and he did his undergraduate studies at Ecole Centrale Paris.

Research Interests

Sébastien's main research focus is on the history and philosophy of physics. He explores how recent developments at the frontiers of physics, especially in the quantum realm, affect our understanding of why science works so well. He has looked primarily at the framework of effective theories up until now, moving more recently towards history to trace their origins and gain further conceptual insights. Along the way, he has been led to develop new projects in the foundations of physics (e.g., the status of gauge symmetries, the concept of open system, the epistemology of discretization methods). His other research interests include metaphysics and early modern philosophy.

Selected Publications

  1. Rivat, S.: Wait, Why Gauge?. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (forthcoming).
  2. Rivat, S.: Drawing Scales Apart: The Origins of Wilson's Conception of Effective Field Theories. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 90: 321-338 (2021).
  3. Rivat, S.: Effective Theories and Infinite Idealizations: A Challenge for Scientific Realism. Synthese 198: 12107–12136 (2021).
  4. Rivat, S., & Grinbaum A.: Philosophical Foundations of Effective Field Theories. The European Physical Journal A 56: 90 (2020).
  5. Rivat, S.: Renormalization Scrutinized. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 68C: 23-39 (2019).