David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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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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