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Handedness, parity violation, and the reality of space

In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. pp. 250--280 (2001)

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  1. Metaphysik im “Handumdrehen” – Kant und Earman, Parität und moderne Raumauffassung.Holger Lyre - 2005 - Philosophia Naturalis 42 (1):49-76.
    In 1768 Immanuel Kant presented an argument showing the necessity of absolute space, i.e. substantivalism in contrast to relationalism, based on the property of handedness. While there is large consensus about the fallacy of Kant’s argument, a more recent debate exists – mainly stimulated by John Earman – about the status of the Kantian argument in view of modern physics and its fundamentally built-in parity violation, which leads to a preferred handedness. According to Earman the relationalist has no means to (...)
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  • Knox’s inertial spacetime functionalism.David John Baker - 2020 - Synthese:1-22.
    Eleanor Knox has argued that our concept of spacetime applies to whichever structure plays a certain functional role in the laws. I raise two objections to this inertial functionalism. First, it depends on a prior assumption about which coordinate systems defined in a theory are reference frames, and hence on assumptions about which geometric structures are spatiotemporal. This makes Knox’s account circular. Second, her account is vulnerable to several counterexamples, giving the wrong result when applied to topological quantum field theories (...)
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  • Spatial Experience, Spatial Reality, and Two Paths to Primitivism.Bradford Saad - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    I explore two views about the relationship between spatial experience and spatial reality: spatial functionalism and spatial presentationalism. Roughly, spatial functionalism claims that the instantiated spatial properties are those playing a certain causal role in producing spatial experience while spatial presentationalism claims that the instantiated spatial properties include those presented in spatial experience. I argue that each view, in its own way, leads to an ontologically inflationary form of primitivism: whereas spatial functionalism leads to primitivism about phenomenal representation, spatial presentationalism (...)
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  • Some Disputed Aspects of Inertia, with Particular Reference to the Equivalence Principle.Ryan S. Samaroo - 2013 - Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario
    This thesis is a contribution to the foundations of space-time theories. It examines the proper understanding of the Newtonian and 1905 inertial frame concepts and the critical analysis of these concepts that was motivated by the equivalence principle. This is the hypothesis that it is impossible to distinguish locally between a homogeneous gravitational field and a uniformly accelerated frame. The three essays that comprise this thesis address, in one way or another, the criteria through which the inertial frame concepts are (...)
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  • Editorial.[author unknown] - forthcoming - Disputatio 9 (44):1-4.
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  • Broken Symmetry and Spacetime.David John Baker - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (1):128-148.
    The phenomenon of broken spacetime symmetry in the quantum theory of infinite systems forces us to adopt an unorthodox ontology. We must abandon the standard conception of the physical meaning of these symmetries, or else deny the attractive “liberal” notion of which physical quantities are significant. A third option, more attractive but less well understood, is to abandon the existing (Halvorson-Clifton) notion of intertranslatability for quantum theories.
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  • “The Experience of Left and Right” Meets the Physics of Left and Right.David John Baker - 2012 - Noûs 46 (3):483-498.
    I consider an argument, due to Geoffrey Lee, that we can know a priori from the left-right asymmetrical character of experience that our brains are left-right asymmetrical. Lee's argument assumes a premise he calls relationism, which I show is well-supported by the best philosophical picture of spacetime. I explain why Lee's relationism is compatible with left-right asymmetrical laws. I then show that the conclusion of Lee's argument is not as strong or surprising as he makes it out to be.
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  • Prospects for a New Account of Time Reversal.Daniel J. Peterson - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 49:42-56.
    In this paper I draw the distinction between intuitive and theory-relative accounts of the time reversal symmetry and identify problems with each. I then propose an alternative to these two types of accounts that steers a middle course between them and minimizes each account’s problems. This new account of time reversal requires that, when dealing with sets of physical theories that satisfy certain constraints, we determine all of the discrete symmetries of the physical laws we are interested in and look (...)
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  • Soft Axiomatisation: John von Neumann on Method and von Neumann's Method in the Physical Sciences.Miklós Rédei & Michael Stöltzner - 2006 - In Emily Carson & Renate Huber (eds.), Intuition and the Axiomatic Method. Springer. pp. 235--249.
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  • Intuition and Cosmology: The Puzzle of Incongruent Counterparts.Brigitte Falkenburg - 2006 - In Emily Carson & Renate Huber (eds.), Intuition and the Axiomatic Method. Springer. pp. 157--180.
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  • A Puzzle About the Experience of Left and Right.Brian Cutter - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Imagine your mirror-inverted counterpart on Mirror Earth, a perfect mirror image of Earth. Would her experiences be the same as yours, or would they be phenomenally mirror-inverted? I argue, first, that her experiences would be phenomenally the same as yours. I then show that this conclusion gives rise to a puzzle, one that I believe pushes us toward some surprising and philosophically significant conclusions about the nature of perception. When you have a typical visual experience as of something to your (...)
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  • On Spacetime Functionalism.David John Baker - manuscript
    Eleanor Knox has argued that our concept of spacetime applies to whichever structure plays a certain functional role in the laws (the role of determining local inertial structure). I raise two complications for this approach. First, our spacetime concept seems to have the structure of a cluster concept, which means that Knox's inertial criteria for spacetime cannot succeed with complete generality. Second, the notion of metaphysical fundamentality may feature in the spacetime concept, in which case spacetime functionalism may be uninformative (...)
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  • Enantiomorphy and Time.Jan-Willem Romeijn - 2005 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (2):167 – 190.
    This article argues that time-asymmetric processes in spacetime are enantiomorphs. Subsequently, the Kantian puzzle concerning enantiomorphs in space is reviewed to introduce a number of positions concerning enantiomorphy, and to arrive at a dilemma: one must either reject that orientations of enantiomorphs are determinate, or furnish space or objects with orientation. The discussion on space is then used to derive two problems in the debate on the direction of time. First, it is shown that certain kinds of reductionism about the (...)
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  • Do Time-Asymmetric Laws Call for Time-Asymmetric Spacetime Structure?Daniel Peterson - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (44):75-98.
    Many philosophers of physics take the failure of the laws of physics to be invariant under the time reversal transformation to give us good reason to think that spacetime is temporally anisotropic, yet the details of this inference are rarely made explicit. I discuss two reasonable ways of filling in the details of this inference, the first of which utilizes a symmetry principle proposed by John Earman and the second of which utilizes Harvey Brown’s account of spacetime. I contend that (...)
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  • Observability, Redundancy and Modality for Dynamical Symmetry Transformations.David Wallace - unknown
    I provide a fairly systematic analysis of when quantities that are variant under a dynamical symmetry transformation should be regarded as unobservable, or redundant, or unreal; of when models related by a dynamical symmetry transformation represent the same state of affairs; and of when mathematical structure that is variant under a dynamical symmetry transformation should be regarded as surplus. In most of these cases the answer is `it depends': depends, that is, on the details of the symmetry in question. A (...)
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  • Symmetries and Invariances in Classical Physics.Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani - unknown - In Jeremy Butterfield & John Earman (eds.). Elsevier.
    Symmetry, intended as invariance with respect to a transformation (more precisely, with respect to a transformation group), has acquired more and more importance in modern physics. This Chapter explores in 8 Sections the meaning, application and interpretation of symmetry in classical physics. This is done both in general, and with attention to specific topics. The general topics include illustration of the distinctions between symmetries of objects and of laws, and between symmetry principles and symmetry arguments (such as Curie's principle), and (...)
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  • The Flow of Time.Huw Price - 2009 - In Craig Callender (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time. Oxford University Press.
    I distinguish three views, a defence of any one of which would go some way towards vindicating the view that there is something objective about the passage of time: the view that the present moment is objectively distinguished; the view that time has an objective direction – that it is an objective matter which of two non-simultaneous events is the earlier and which the later; the view that there is something objectively dynamic, flux-like, or "flow-like" about time. I argue that (...)
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  • There Is No Conspiracy of Inertia.Ryan Samaroo - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):957-982.
    I examine two claims that arise in Brown’s account of inertial motion. Brown claims there is something objectionable about the way in which the motions of free particles in Newtonian theory and special relativity are coordinated. Brown also claims that since a geodesic principle can be derived in Einsteinian gravitation, the objectionable feature is explained away. I argue that there is nothing objectionable about inertia and that while the theorems that motivate Brown’s second claim can be said to figure in (...)
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  • Symmetry as an Epistemic Notion.Shamik Dasgupta - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):837-878.
    Symmetries in physics are a guide to reality. That much is well known. But what is less well known is why symmetry is a guide to reality. What justifies inferences that draw conclusions about reality from premises about symmetries? I argue that answering this question reveals that symmetry is an epistemic notion twice over. First, these inferences must proceed via epistemic lemmas: premises about symmetries in the first instance justify epistemic lemmas about our powers of detection, and only from those (...)
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  • Symmetries and the Philosophy of Language.Neil Dewar - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):317-327.
    In this paper, I consider the role of exact symmetries in theories of physics, working throughout with the example of gravitation set in Newtonian spacetime. First, I spend some time setting up a means of thinking about symmetries in this context; second, I consider arguments from the seeming undetectability of absolute velocities to an anti-realism about velocities; and finally, I claim that the structure of the theory licences us to interpret models which differ only with regards to the absolute velocities (...)
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  • Identity Over Time: Objectively, Subjectively.Bas C. Fraassen & Isabelle Peschard - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (230):15-35.
    In the philosophy of science, identity over time emerges as a central concern both as an ontological category in the interpretation of physical theories, and as an epistemological problem concerning the conditions of possibility of knowledge. In Reichenbach and subsequent writers on the problem of indistinguishable quantum particles we see the return of a contrast between Leibniz and Aquinas on the subject of individuation. The possibility of rejecting the principle of the identity of indiscernibles has certain logical difficulties, leading us (...)
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  • Minkowski Space-Time: A Glorious Non-Entity.Harvey R. Brown & Oliver Pooley - 2004 - In Dennis Dieks (ed.), The Ontology of Spacetime. Elsevier. pp. 67--89.
    It is argued that Minkowski space-time cannot serve as the deep structure within a ``constructive'' version of the special theory of relativity, contrary to widespread opinion in the philosophical community.
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  • Minkowski Space-Time: A Glorious Non-Entity.Oliver Pooley with Ian Gibson - manuscript
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  • Physical Geometry.James P. Binkoski - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    All physical theories, from classical Newtonian mechanics to relativistic quantum field theory, entail propositions concerning the geometric structure of spacetime. To give an example, the general theory of relativity entails that spacetime is curved, smooth, and four-dimensional. In this dissertation, I take the structural commitments of our theories seriously and ask: how is such structure instantiated in the physical world? Mathematically, a property like 'being curved' is perfectly well-defined insofar as we know what it means for a mathematical space to (...)
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  • Mirroring as an a Priori Symmetry.Simon Saunders - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (4):452-480.
    A relationist will account for the use of ‘left’ and ‘right’ in terms of relative orientations, and other properties and relations invariant under mirroring. This analysis will apply whenever mirroring is a symmetry, so it certainly applies to classical mechanics; we argue it applies to any physical theory formulated on a manifold: it is in this sense an a priori symmetry. It should apply in particular to parity violating theories in quantum mechanics; mirror symmetry is only broken in such theories (...)
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  • Editorial.[author unknown] - forthcoming - Editorial 9 (44):1-4.
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  • Incongruent Counterparts and the Reality of Space.Graham Nerlich - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (3):598-613.
    Left and right hands are incongruent counterparts. Yet each replicates the intrinsic properties of the other. This suggests that differing relations to space make the difference. Kant's and Weyl's discussions of the problem are critically discussed. It emerges that spatial relationism fails to explain how its relations may be interpreted. An excursion into visual geometry explains the basis of handedness in the orientable structure of space.
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