Curie's principle and spontaneous symmetry breaking

In 1894 Pierre Curie announced what has come to be known as Curie's Principle: the asymmetry of effects must be found in their causes. In the same publication Curie discussed a key feature of what later came to be known as spontaneous symmetry breaking: the phenomena generally do not exhibit the symmetries of the laws that govern them. Philosophers have long been interested in the meaning and status of Curie's Principle. Only comparatively recently have they begun to delve into the mysteries of spontaneous symmetry breaking. The present paper aims to advance the discussion of both of these twin topics by tracing their interaction in classical physics, ordinary quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. The features of spontaneous symmetry that are peculiar to quantum field theory have received scant attention in the philosophical literature. These features are highlighted here, along with an explanation of why Curie's Principle, though valid in quantum field theory, is nearly vacuous in that context.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/0269859042000311299
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,974
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Christopher A. Martin (2002). Gauge Principles, Gauge Arguments and the Logic of Nature. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S221-S234.
Katherine Bracing & Harvey R. Brown (2003). Symmetries and Noether's Theorems. In Katherine A. Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press 89.
A. F. Chalmers (1970). Curie's Principle. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):133-148.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Bryan W. Roberts (forthcoming). Three Merry Roads to T-Violation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
Koray Karaca (2013). The Construction of the Higgs Mechanism and the Emergence of the Electroweak Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (1):1-16.

View all 19 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

86 ( #34,280 of 1,725,806 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #110,125 of 1,725,806 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.