Does the Higgs mechanism exist?

This paper explores the argument structure of the concept of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the electroweak gauge theory of the Standard Model: the so-called Higgs mechanism. As commonly understood, the Higgs argument is designed to introduce the masses of the gauge bosons by a spontaneous breaking of the gauge symmetry of an additional field, the Higgs field. The technical derivation of the Higgs mechanism, however, consists in a mere reshuffling of degrees of freedom by transforming the Higgs Lagrangian in a gauge-invariant manner. This already raises serious doubts about the adequacy of the entire manoeuvre. It will be shown that no straightforward ontic interpretation of the Higgs mechanism is tenable, since gauge transformations possess no real instantiations. In addition, the explanatory value of the Higgs argument will be critically examined.
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DOI 10.1080/02698590802496664
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References found in this work BETA
John Earman (2004). Curie's Principle and Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (2 & 3):173 – 198.
Holger Lyre (2004). Holism and Structuralism in (1) Gauge Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 35 (4):643-670.
Chris Smeenk (2006). The Elusive Higgs Mechanism. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):487-499.

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Citations of this work BETA
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.
Ward Struyve (2011). Gauge Invariant Accounts of the Higgs Mechanism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 42 (4):226-236.
Dean Rickles (2011). A Philosopher Looks at String Dualities. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 42 (1):54-67.
Holger Lyre (2012). The Just-So Higgs Story: A Response to Adrian Wüthrich. [REVIEW] Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (2):289-294.

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