Weyl and Von Neumann: Symmetry, group theory, and quantum mechanics
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In this paper, I shall discuss the heuristic role of symmetry in the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics. I shall first set out the scene in terms of Bas van Fraassen’s elegant presentation of how symmetry principles can be used as problem-solving devices (see van Fraassen  and ). I will then examine in what ways Hermann Weyl and John von Neumann have used symmetry principles in their work as a crucial problem-solving tool. Finally, I shall explore one consequence of this situation to recent debates about structural realism (SR) and empiricism in physics (Worrall , Ladyman , and French ).
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