Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1219-1232 (2003)
|Abstract||This paper aims at answering the simple question, “What is spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) in classical systems?” I attempt to do this by analyzing from a philosophical perspective a simple classical model which exhibits some of the main features of SSB. Related questions include: What does it mean to say that a symmetry is spontaneously broken? Is it broken without any causes, or is the symmetry not broken but merely hidden? Is the principle, “no asymmetry in, no asymmetry out,” violated by SSB? What really distinguishes SSB from the usual types of symmetry breaking?|
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