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  1. Infinitesimal Idealization, Easy Road Nominalism, and Fractional Quantum Statistics.Elay Shech - 2019 - Synthese 196 (5):1963-1990.
    It has been recently debated whether there exists a so-called “easy road” to nominalism. In this essay, I attempt to fill a lacuna in the debate by making a connection with the literature on infinite and infinitesimal idealization in science through an example from mathematical physics that has been largely ignored by philosophers. Specifically, by appealing to John Norton’s distinction between idealization and approximation, I argue that the phenomena of fractional quantum statistics bears negatively on Mary Leng’s proposed path to (...)
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  • Idealizations, Essential Self-Adjointness, and Minimal Model Explanation in the Aharonov–Bohm Effect.Shech Elay - 2018 - Synthese 195 (11):4839-4863.
    Two approaches to understanding the idealizations that arise in the Aharonov–Bohm effect are presented. It is argued that a common topological approach, which takes the non-simply connected electron configuration space to be an essential element in the explanation and understanding of the effect, is flawed. An alternative approach is outlined. Consequently, it is shown that the existence and uniqueness of self-adjoint extensions of symmetric operators in quantum mechanics have important implications for philosophical issues. Also, the alleged indispensable explanatory role of (...)
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  • The Aharonov-Bohm Debate in 3D.Afriat Alexander - unknown
    Going from two dimensions to three can shed light on the Aharonov-Bohm debate. The three-dimensional analogy is misleading if taken too literally; it makes sense on a more abstract, formal level. A slight tweak is enough to produce gauge freedom in three dimensions.
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  • The Non-Ideal Theory of the Aharonov–Bohm Effect.John Dougherty - 2020 - Synthese (12):12195-12221.
    Elay Shech and John Earman have recently argued that the common topological interpretation of the Aharonov–Bohm (AB) effect is unsatisfactory because it fails to justify idealizations that it presupposes. In particular, they argue that an adequate account of the AB effect must address the role of boundary conditions in certain ideal cases of the effect. In this paper I defend the topological interpretation against their criticisms. I consider three types of idealization that might arise in treatments of the effect. First, (...)
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  • Two Approaches to Fractional Statistics in the Quantum Hall Effect: Idealizations and the Curious Case of the Anyon.Elay Shech - 2015 - Foundations of Physics 45 (9):1063-1100.
    This paper looks at the nature of idealizations and representational structures appealed to in the context of the fractional quantum Hall effect, specifically, with respect to the emergence of anyons and fractional statistics. Drawing on an analogy with the Aharonov–Bohm effect, it is suggested that the standard approach to the effects— the topological approach to fractional statistics—relies essentially on problematic idealizations that need to be revised in order for the theory to be explanatory. An alternative geometric approach is outlined and (...)
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  • The Role of Idealizations in the Aharonov–Bohm Effect.John Earman - 2017 - Synthese:1-29.
    On standard accounts of scientific theorizing, the role of idealizations is to facilitate the analysis of some real world system by employing a simplified representation of the target system, raising the obvious worry about how reliable knowledge can be obtained from inaccurate descriptions. The idealizations involved in the Aharonov–Bohm effect do not, it is claimed, fit this paradigm; rather the target system is a fictional system characterized by features that, though physically possible, are not realized in the actual world. The (...)
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  • Smaller Than a Breadbox: Scale and Natural Kinds.Julia R. Bursten - 2018 - British Journal for Philosophy of Science 69 (1):1-23.
    ABSTRACT I propose a division of the literature on natural kinds into metaphysical worries, semantic worries, and methodological worries. I argue that the latter set of worries, which concern how classification influences scientific practices, should occupy centre stage in philosophy of science discussions about natural kinds. I apply this methodological framework to the problems of classifying chemical species and nanomaterials. I show that classification in nanoscience differs from classification in chemistry because the latter relies heavily on compositional identity, whereas the (...)
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  • On Explanations From Geometry of Motion.Juha Saatsi - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):253–273.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from "geometry of motion" with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
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  • On Explanations From Geometry of Motion.Juha Saatsi - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):253–273.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from ‘geometry of motion’ with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
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  • Against Pointillisme About Mechanics.Jeremy Butterfield - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):709-753.
    This paper forms part of a wider campaign: to deny pointillisme, the doctrine that a physical theory's fundamental quantities are defined at points of space or of spacetime, and represent intrinsic properties of such points or point-sized objects located there; so that properties of spatial or spatiotemporal regions and their material contents are determined by the point-by-point facts. More specifically, this paper argues against pointillisme about the concept of velocity in classical mechanics; especially against proposals by Tooley, Robinson and Lewis. (...)
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  • Holism and Structuralism in U(1) Gauge Theory.Holger Lyre - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (4):643-670.
    After decades of neglect philosophers of physics have discovered gauge theories--arguably the paradigm of modern field physics--as a genuine topic for foundational and philosophical research. Incidentally, in the last couple of years interest from the philosophy of physics in structural realism--in the eyes of its proponents the best suited realist position towards modern physics--has also raised. This paper tries to connect both topics and aims to show that structural realism gains further credence from an ontological analysis of gauge theories--in particular (...)
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  • Response to Belot’s “Whose Devil? Which Details?‘.Robert W. Batterman - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (1):154-163.
    I respond to Belot's argument and defend the view that sometimes `fundamental theories' are explanatorily inadequate and need to be supplemented with certain aspects of less fundamental `theories emeritus'.
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  • La topologica.Alessandro Afriat - 2013 - In Isabella Tassani (ed.), Oltre la fisica normale. Interpretazioni alternative e teorie non standard nella fisica moderna. pp. 14-19.
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  • Oltre la fisica normale. Interpretazioni alternative e teorie non standard nella fisica moderna.Isabella Tassani, Gino Tarozzi, Alessandro Afriat, Gennaro Auletta, Stefano Bordoni, Marco Buzzoni, Claudio Calosi, Vincenzo Fano, Alberto Cappi, Giovanni Macchia, Fabio Minazzi & Arcangelo Rossi (eds.) - 2013 - ISONOMIA - Epistemologica.
    Nella sua straordinaria opera scientifica, Franco Selleri si è sempre opposto alla rinuncia alla comprensione della struttura della realtà e della natura degli oggetti fisici, che egli considera come l’elemento caratterizzante delle principali teorie della fisica del Novecento e che è stata stigmatizzata da Karl Popper come tesi della “fine della strada in fisica”. Sin dalla fine degli anni ’60, egli ha sviluppato quella riflessione critica nei confronti delle teorie fondamentali della fisica moderna, in particolar modo della teoria delle particelle (...)
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  • Against Pointillisme About Geometry.Jeremy Butterfield - 2005 - In Michael Stöltzner & Friedrich Stadler (eds.), Time and History: Proceedings of the 28. International Ludwig Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg Am Wechsel, Austria 2005. De Gruyter. pp. 181-222.
    This paper forms part of a wider campaign: to deny pointillisme. That is the doctrine that a physical theory's fundamental quantities are defined at points of space or of spacetime, and represent intrinsic properties of such points or point-sized objects located there; so that properties of spatial or spatiotemporal regions and their material contents are determined by the point-by-point facts. More specifically, this paper argues against pointillisme about the structure of space and-or spacetime itself, especially a paper by Bricker (1993). (...)
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  • Berry Phase and Fine Structure.Bernd Binder - unknown
    Irrational numbers can be assigned to physical entities based on iterative processes of geometric objects. It is likely that iterative round trips of vector signals include a geometric phase component. If so, this component will couple back to the round trip frequency or path length generating an non-linear feedback loop (i.e. induced by precession). In this paper such a quantum feedback mechanism is defined including generalized fine structure constants in accordance with the fundamental gravitomagnetic relation of spin-orbit coupling. Supported by (...)
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  • Geometric Phase Locked in Fine Structure.Bernd Binder - unknown
    Berry's phase carries physical information coded as topological and geometrical objects that can be directly verified in measurements. In some cases the situation can be reduced to an irrational phase shift, that can be usually obtained by an iterative process. Take the Berry phase as the geometric object and let the iterative process be a non-linear phase-locked feedback mechanism defined by spin-orbit coupling and precession, a coupling of fast and slow rotating vectors. For spin-orbit coupling the realization is easy and (...)
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  • Topology, Holes and Sources.Alexander Afriat - unknown
    The Aharonov-Bohm effect is typically called ``topological.'' But it seems no more topological than magnetostatics, electrostatics or Newton-Poisson gravity. I distinguish between two senses of ``topological.''.
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  • Which Gauge Matters?James Mattingly - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (2):243-262.
  • On Explanations From Geometry of Motion.Juha Saatsi - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw007.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from “geometry of motion” with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
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  • Symmetry and Gauge Freedom.Gordon Belot - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 34 (2):189-225.
    The classical field theories that underlie the quantum treatments of the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces share a peculiar feature: specifying the initial state of the field determines the evolution of some degrees of freedom of the theory while leaving the evolution of some others wholly arbitrary. This strongly suggests that some of the variables of the standard state space lack physical content-intuitively, the space of states of such a theory is of higher dimension than the corresponding space of genuine (...)
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  • Infinite Idealizations in Physics.Elay Shech - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (9):e12514.
    In this essay, I provide an overview of the debate on infinite and essential idealizations in physics. I will first present two ostensible examples: phase transitions and the Aharonov– Bohm effect. Then, I will describe the literature on the topic as a debate between two positions: Essentialists claim that idealizations are essential or indispensable for scientific accounts of certain physical phenomena, while dispensabilists maintain that idealizations are dispensable from mature scientific theory. I will also identify some attempts at finding a (...)
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  • Berry Phase and Quantum Structure.Holger Lyre - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 48 (1):45-51.
  • Berry Phase and Quantum Structure.Holger Lyre - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 48:45-51.
    The paper aims to spell out the relevance of the Berry phase in view of the question what the minimal mathematical structure is that accounts for all observable quantum phenomena. The question is both of conceptual and of ontological interest. While common wisdom tells us that the quantum structure is represented by the structure of the projective Hilbert space, the appropriate structure rich enough to account for the Berry phase is the U(1) bundle over that projective space. The Berry phase (...)
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