How is spontaneous symmetry breaking possible?

We pose and resolve a seeming paradox about spontaneous symmetry breaking in the quantum theory of infinite systems. For a symmetry to be spontaneously broken, it must not be implementable by a unitary operator. But Wigner's theorem guarantees that every symmetry is implemented by a unitary operator that preserves transition probabilities between pure states. We show how it is possible for a unitary operator of this sort to connect the folia of unitarily inequivalent representations. This result undermines interpretations of quantum theory that hold unitary equivalence to be necessary for physical equivalence.
Keywords philosophy of physics  quantum field theory
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Sébastien Rivat (2014). On the Heuristics of the Higgs Mechanism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (2):351-367.

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