Are gauge symmetry transformations observable?

In a recent paper in this journal, Kosso ([2000]) discussed the observational status of continuous symmetries of physics. While we are in broad agreement with his approach, we disagree with his analysis. In the discussion of the status of gauge symmetry, a set of examples offered by 't Hooft ([1980]) has influenced several philosophers, including Kosso; in all cases the interpretation of the examples is mistaken. In this paper, we present our preferred approach to the empirical significance of symmetries, re-analysing the cases of gauge symmetry and general covariance. Direct and indirect empirical significance Global and local continuous symmetries Gauge symmetry 3.1 Local gauge symmetry 3.1.1 Discussion of the first claim 3.1.2 Discussion of the second claim 3.2 Global gauge symmetry Space-time symmetries Direct and indirect empirical significance again Conclusion.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/55.4.645
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H. Greaves & D. Wallace (2014). Empirical Consequences of Symmetries. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):59-89.
S. Dasgupta (forthcoming). Symmetry as an Epistemic Notion. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axu049.
Ward Struyve (2011). Gauge Invariant Accounts of the Higgs Mechanism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 42 (4):226-236.
Holger Lyre (2008). Does the Higgs Mechanism Exist? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (2):119-133.
Richard Healey (2009). Perfect Symmetries. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):697-720.

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