Complementarity meets general relativity: A study in ontological commitments and theory unification

Synthese 79 (3):559 - 580 (1989)
The apparent underdetermination of the formalism of quantum field theory (QFT) as between a particle and a field interpretation is studied in this paper through a detour over the problem of unifying QFT with general relativity. All we have at present is a partial or approximate unification, QFT in non-Minkowskian spaces. The nature of this hybrid and the problem of its internal consistency are discussed. One of its most striking implications is that particles do not have an observer-independent existence. We trace the ways in which physicists reacted to this at first highly implausible ontological consequence. We conclude that quantum fields rather than particles are after all the basic entities in QFT.
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References found in this work BETA
Jürgen Audretsch (1981). Quantum Gravity and the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 12 (2):322-339.
John Earman (1978). Combining Statistical-Thermodynamics and Relativity Theory: Methodological and Foundations Problems. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1978:157 - 185.
Michael Redhead (1982). Quantum Field Theory for Philosophers. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:57 - 99.

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