Comments on the Papers of Cushing and Redhead: "Models, High-Energy Theoretical Physics and Realism" and "Quantum Field Theory for Philosophers"
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:100 - 111 (1982)
In response to Cushing it is urged that the vicissitudes of quantum field theory do not press towards a nonrealist attitude towards the theory as strongly as he suggests. A variety of issues which Redhead raises are taken up, including photon localizability, the wave-particle distinction in the classical limit, and the interpretation of quantum statistics, vacuum fluctuations, virtual particles, and creation and annihilation operators. It is urged that quantum field theory harbors an unacknowledged inconsistency connected with the fact that the zero point energy has observable consequences, while to avoid infinities it must be "thrown away". Finally, Redhead's conception of ephemerals is pressed and the paper concludes with the suggestion that the particle concept largely drops out of quantum field theory.
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