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Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell

Princeton University Press (2010)

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  1. Scientific Realism Made Effective.Porter Williams - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):209-237.
    I argue that a common philosophical approach to the interpretation of physical theories—particularly quantum field theories—has led philosophers astray. It has driven many to declare the quantum field theories employed by practicing physicists, so-called ‘effective field theories’, to be unfit for philosophical interpretation. In particular, such theories have been deemed unable to support a realist interpretation. I argue that these claims are mistaken: attending to the manner in which these theories are employed in physical practice, I show that interpreting effective (...)
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  • Confirmation Via Analogue Simulation: What Dumb Holes Could Tell Us About Gravity.Radin Dardashti, Karim P. Y. Thébault & Eric Winsberg - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1).
    In this article we argue for the existence of ‘analogue simulation’ as a novel form of scientific inference with the potential to be confirmatory. This notion is distinct from the modes of analogical reasoning detailed in the literature, and draws inspiration from fluid dynamical ‘dumb hole’ analogues to gravitational black holes. For that case, which is considered in detail, we defend the claim that the phenomena of gravitational Hawking radiation could be confirmed in the case that its counterpart is detected (...)
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  • Defining a Crisis: The Roles of Principles in the Search for a Theory of Quantum Gravity.Karen Crowther - forthcoming - Synthese 198 (Suppl 14):3489-3516.
    In times of crisis, when current theories are revealed as inadequate to task, and new physics is thought to be required—physics turns to re-evaluate its principles, and to seek new ones. This paper explores the various types, and roles of principles that feature in the problem of quantum gravity as a current crisis in physics. I illustrate the diversity of the principles being appealed to, and show that principles serve in a variety of roles in all stages of the crisis, (...)
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  • Symmetry Breaking.Elena Castellani & Radin Dardashti - 2021 - In Eleanor Knox & Alistair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics. Routledge.
    A brief introduction to the physics and philosophy of symmetry breaking.
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  • The Quantum Theory of Fields.David Wallace - 2021 - In Eleanor Knox & Alistair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics.
    I give an introduction to the conceptual structure of quantum field theory as it is used in mainstream theoretical physics today, aimed at non-specialists. My main focuses in the article are the common structure of quantum field theory as it is applied in solid-state physics and as it is applied in high-energy physics; the modern theory of renormalisation.
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  • Pure Consciousness and Quantum Field Theory.Markus E. Schlosser - manuscript
    In the first part I argue that Buddhism and Hinduism can be unified by a Pure Consciousness thesis, which says that the nature of ultimate reality is an unconditioned and pure consciousness and that the phenomenal world is a mere appearance of pure consciousness. In the second part I argue that the Pure Consciousness thesis can be supported by an argument from quantum physics. According to our best scientific theories, the fundamental nature of reality consists of quantum fields, and it (...)
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  • Copenhagen Quantum Mechanics Emerges From a Deterministic Schrödinger Theory in 11 Dimensional Spacetime Including Weak Field Gravitation.G. Doyen & D. Drakova - 2015 - Foundations of Physics 45 (8):959-999.
    We construct a world model consisting of a matter field living in 4 dimensional spacetime and a gravitational field living in 11 dimensional spacetime. The seven hidden dimensions are compactified within a radius estimated by reproducing the particle–wave characteristics of diffraction experiments. In the presence of matter fields the gravitational field develops localized modes with elementary excitations called gravonons which are induced by the sources. The final world model treated here contains only gravonons and a scalar matter field. The gravonons (...)
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  • Lessons From Realistic Physics for the Metaphysics of Quantum Theory.David Wallace - 2018 - Synthese:1-16.
    Quantum mechanics, and classical mechanics, are framework theories that incorporate many different concrete theories which in general cannot be arranged in a neat hierarchy, but discussion of ‘the ontology of quantum mechanics’ tends to proceed as if quantum mechanics were a single concrete theory, specifically the physics of nonrelativistically moving point particles interacting by long-range forces. I survey the problems this causes and make some suggestions for how a more physically realistic perspective ought to influence the metaphysics of quantum mechanics.
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  • Compact Time and Determinism for Bosons: Foundations. [REVIEW]Donatello Dolce - 2011 - Foundations of Physics 41 (2):178-203.
    Free bosonic fields are investigated at a classical level by imposing their characteristic de Broglie periodicities as constraints. In analogy with finite temperature field theory and with extra-dimensional field theories, this compactification naturally leads to a quantized energy spectrum. As a consequence of the relation between periodicity and energy arising from the de Broglie relation, the compactification must be regarded as dynamical and local. The theory, whose foundamental set-up is presented in this paper, turns out to be consistent with special (...)
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  • An Argument for the Extrinsic Grounding of Mass.William A. Bauer - 2011 - Erkenntnis 74 (1):81-99.
    Several philosophers of science and metaphysicians claim that the dispositional properties of fundamental particles, such as the mass, charge, and spin of electrons, are ungrounded in any further properties. It is assumed by those making this argument that such properties are intrinsic, and thus if they are grounded at all they must be grounded intrinsically. However, this paper advances an argument, with one empirical premise and one metaphysical premise, for the claim that mass is extrinsically grounded and is thus an (...)
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  • Coarse-Graining as a Route to Microscopic Physics: The Renormalization Group in Quantum Field Theory.Hancox-Li Leif - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1211–1223.
    The renormalization group has been characterized as merely a coarse-graining procedure that does not illuminate the microscopic content of quantum field theory, but merely gets us from that content, as given by axiomatic QFT, to macroscopic predictions. I argue that in the constructive field theory tradition, RG techniques do illuminate the microscopic dynamics of a QFT, which are not automatically given by axiomatic QFT. RG techniques in constructive field theory are also rigorous, so one cannot object to their foundational import (...)
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  • Between Symmetry and Asymmetry: Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking as Narrative Knowing.Arianna Borrelli - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3919-3948.
    The paper presents a historical-epistemological analysis of the notion of “spontaneous symmetry breaking”, which I believe today provides a template for conceiving the relationship between symmetry and asymmetry in physics as well as in other areas of the natural sciences. The central thesis of the paper is that spontaneous symmetry breaking represents an instance of “narrative knowing” in the sense developed by recent research in history and philosophy of science SI narrative in science, Studies in history and philosophy of science, (...)
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  • Renormalizability, Fundamentality and a Final Theory: The Role of UV-Completion in the Search for Quantum Gravity.Karen Crowther & Niels Linnemann - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx052.
    Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity (QG), where novel empirical data is lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is UV completion: the idea that a theory should (formally) hold up to all possible high energies. We argue---/contra/ standard scientific practice---that UV-completion is poorly-motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...)
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  • Renormalizability, Fundamentality, and a Final Theory: The Role of UV-Completion in the Search for Quantum Gravity.Karen Crowther & Niels Linnemann - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):377-406.
    Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity, where novel empirical data are lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is ultraviolet completion: the idea that a theory should hold up to all possible high energies. We argue— contra standard scientific practice—that UV-completion is poorly motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...)
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  • Book Review:Quantum Mechanics: Theory and Applications. By Ajoy K. Ghatak and S. Lokanathan, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 2004, Xlviii+858 Pp., $303.00/ $99.00 . ISBN 1-4020-1850-9. [REVIEW]V. Lakshminarayanan - 2005 - Foundations of Physics 35 (6):1107-1109.
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  • Lessons from realistic physics for the metaphysics of quantum theory.David Wallace - 2020 - Synthese 197 (10):4303-4318.
    Quantum mechanics, and classical mechanics, are framework theories that incorporate many different concrete theories which in general cannot be arranged in a neat hierarchy, but discussion of ‘the ontology of quantum mechanics’ tends to proceed as if quantum mechanics were a single concrete theory, specifically the physics of nonrelativistically moving point particles interacting by long-range forces. I survey the problems this causes and make some suggestions for how a more physically realistic perspective ought to influence the metaphysics of quantum mechanics.
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  • A New Look at Emergence. Or When After is Different.Alexandre Guay & Olivier Sartenaer - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (2):297-322.
    In this paper, we put forward a new account of emergence called “transformational emergence”. Such an account captures a variety of emergence that can be considered as being diachronic and weakly ontological. The fact that transformational emergence actually constitutes a genuine form of emergence is motivated. Besides, the account is free of traditional problems surrounding more usual, synchronic versions of emergence, and it can find a strong empirical support in a specific physical phenomenon, the fractional quantum Hall effect, which has (...)
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  • Path Integrals and Holism.Marco Forgione - 2020 - Foundations of Physics 50 (8):799-827.
    This paper argues that the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics suggests a form of holism for which the whole has properties that are not strongly reducible to the properties of the parts. Feynman’s sum over histories calculates the probability amplitude of a particle moving within a boundary by summing over all the possible trajectories that the particle can undertake. These trajectories and their individual probability amplitudes are thus necessary in calculating the total amplitude. However, not all possible trajectories are (...)
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  • Being, Becoming and the Undivided Universe: A Dialogue Between Relational Blockworld and the Implicate Order Concerning the Unification of Relativity and Quantum Theory.Michael Silberstein, W. M. Stuckey & Timothy McDevitt - 2013 - Foundations of Physics 43 (4):502-532.
    In this paper two different approaches to unification will be compared, Relational Blockworld (RBW) and Hiley’s implicate order. Both approaches are monistic in that they attempt to derive matter and spacetime geometry ‘at once’ in an interdependent and background independent fashion from something underneath both quantum theory and relativity. Hiley’s monism resides in the implicate order via Clifford algebras and is based on process as fundamental while RBW’s monism resides in spacetimematter via path integrals over graphs whereby space, time and (...)
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  • A Scientific Metaphysical Naturalisation of Information.Bruce Long - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Sydney
    The objective of this thesis is to present a naturalised metaphysics of information, or to naturalise information, by way of deploying a scientific metaphysics according to which contingency is privileged and a-priori conceptual analysis is excluded (or at least greatly diminished) in favour of contingent and defeasible metaphysics. The ontology of information is established according to the premises and mandate of the scientific metaphysics by inference to the best explanation, and in accordance with the idea that the primacy of physics (...)
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  • Appearing Out of Nowhere: The Emergence of Spacetime in Quantum Gravity.Karen Crowther - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Sydney
    Quantum gravity is understood as a theory that, in some sense, unifies general relativity (GR) and quantum theory, and is supposed to replace GR at extremely small distances (high-energies). It may be that quantum gravity represents the breakdown of spacetime geometry described by GR. The relationship between quantum gravity and spacetime has been deemed ``emergence'', and the aim of this thesis is to investigate and explicate this relation. After finding traditional philosophical accounts of emergence to be inappropriate, I develop a (...)
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  • Spin Path Integrals and Generations.Carl Brannen - 2010 - Foundations of Physics 40 (11):1681-1699.
    The spin of a free electron is stable but its position is not. Recent quantum information research by G. Svetlichny, J. Tolar, and G. Chadzitaskos have shown that the Feynman position path integral can be mathematically defined as a product of incompatible states; that is, as a product of mutually unbiased bases (MUBs). Since the more common use of MUBs is in finite dimensional Hilbert spaces, this raises the question “what happens when spin path integrals are computed over products of (...)
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  • The Dirac Equation as a Path to the Concept of Quanta, and its Role in Quantum Electrodynamics.Mario Bacelar Valente - unknown
    In this article the Dirac equation is used a guideline to see the historical emergence of the concept of quanta, associated with the quantum field. In P. Jordan’s approach, the electron as quanta results from the quantization of a classical field described by the Dirac equation. The concept of quanta becomes a central piece in the applications of the theory and is seen as fundamental in the intelegibility of the interaction between fields, being the Fock space the natural mathematical structure (...)
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  • The Interactivist Model.Mark H. Bickhard - 2009 - Synthese 166 (3):547 - 591.
    A shift from a metaphysical framework of substance to one of process enables an integrated account of the emergence of normative phenomena. I show how substance assumptions block genuine ontological emergence, especially the emergence of normativity, and how a process framework permits a thermodynamic-based account of normative emergence. The focus is on two foundational forms of normativity, that of normative function and of representation as emergent in a particular kind of function. This process model of representation, called interactivism, compels changes (...)
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  • Condensed Matter Physics and the Nature of Spacetime.Jonathan Bain - 2007
    This essay considers the prospects of modeling spacetime as a phenomenon that emerges in the low-energy limit of a quantum liquid. It evaluates three examples of spacetime analogues in condensed matter systems that have appeared in the recent physics literature, indicating the extent to which they are viable, and considers what they suggest about the nature of spacetime.
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  • Decoupling Emergence and Reduction in Physics.Karen Crowther - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3):419-445.
    An effective theory in physics is one that is supposed to apply only at a given length scale; the framework of effective field theory describes a ‘tower’ of theories each applying at different length scales, where each ‘level’ up is a shorter-scale theory. Owing to subtlety regarding the use and necessity of EFTs, a conception of emergence defined in terms of reduction is irrelevant. I present a case for decoupling emergence and reduction in the philosophy of physics. This paper develops (...)
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  • An Argument for 4d Blockworld From a Geometric Interpretation of Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics.Michael Silberstein, W. M. Stuckey & Michael Cifone - unknown
    We use a new, distinctly “geometrical” interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics (NRQM) to argue for the fundamentality of the 4D blockworld ontology. We argue for a geometrical interpretation whose fundamental ontology is one of spacetime relations as opposed to constructive entities whose time-dependent behavior is governed by dynamical laws. Our view rests on two formal results: Kaiser (1981 & 1990), Bohr & Ulfbeck (1995) and Anandan, (2003) showed independently that the Heisenberg commutation relations of NRQM follow from the relativity of (...)
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  • The Construction of the Higgs Mechanism and the Emergence of the Electroweak Theory.Koray Karaca - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (1):1-16.
    I examine the construction process of the “Higgs mechanism” and its subsequent use by Steven Weinberg to formulate the electroweak theory of elementary particle physics. I characterize the development of the Higgs mechanism as a historical process that was guided through analogies drawn to the theories of solid-state physics and that was progressive through diverse contributions in the sixties from a number of physicists working independently. I also offer a detailed comparative study of the similarities and the differences that exist (...)
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  • A Note on Rovelli’s ‘Why Gauge?’.Nicholas J. Teh - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3):339-348.
    Rovelli’s “Why Gauge?” offers a parable to show that gauge-dependent quantities have a modal and relational physical significance. We subject the morals of this parable to philosophical scrutiny and argue that, while Rovelli’s main point stands, there are important disanalogies between his parable and Yang-Mills type gauge theory.
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  • Unifying Geometrical Representations of Gauge Theory.Scott Alsid & Mario Serna - 2015 - Foundations of Physics 45 (1):75-103.
    We unify three approaches within the vast body of gauge-theory research that have independently developed distinct representations of a geometrical surface-like structure underlying the vector-potential. The three approaches that we unify are: those who use the compactified dimensions of Kaluza–Klein theory, those who use Grassmannian models models) to represent gauge fields, and those who use a hidden spatial metric to replace the gauge fields. In this paper we identify a correspondence between the geometrical representations of the three schools. Each school (...)
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  • Equivalent Quantum Equations in a System Inspired by Bouncing Droplets Experiments.Christian Borghesi - 2017 - Foundations of Physics 47 (7):933-958.
    In this paper we study a classical and theoretical system which consists of an elastic medium carrying transverse waves and one point-like high elastic medium density, called concretion. We compute the equation of motion for the concretion as well as the wave equation of this system. Afterwards we always consider the case where the concretion is not the wave source any longer. Then the concretion obeys a general and covariant guidance formula, which leads in low-velocity approximation to an equivalent de (...)
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  • New Curved Spacetime Dirac Equations.G. G. Nyambuya - 2008 - Foundations of Physics 38 (7):665-677.
    I propose three new curved spacetime versions of the Dirac Equation. These equations have been developed mainly to try and account in a natural way for the observed anomalous gyromagnetic ratio of Fermions. The derived equations suggest that particles including the Electron which is thought to be a point particle do have a finite spatial size which is the reason for the observed anomalous gyromagnetic ratio. A serendipitous result of the theory, is that, to of the equation exhibits an asymmetry (...)
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  • Maudlin's Mathematical Maneuver: A Case Study in the Metaphysical Implications of Mathematical Representations.Robbie Hirsch - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (1):170-210.
  • The Case for Black Hole Thermodynamics, Part II: Statistical Mechanics.David Wallace - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 66:103-117.
    I present in detail the case for regarding black hole thermodynamics as having a statistical-mechanical explanation in exact parallel with the statistical-mechanical explanation believed to underly the thermodynamics of other systems. I focus on three lines of argument: zero-loop and one-loop calculations in quantum general relativity understood as a quantum field theory, using the path-integral formalism; calculations in string theory of the leading-order terms, higher-derivative corrections, and quantum corrections, in the black hole entropy formula for extremal and near-extremal black holes; (...)
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  • Almost‐Anywhere Theories: Reductionism and Universality of Emergence.Ignazio Licata - 2010 - Complexity 15 (6):11-19.
  • Coarse-Graining as a Route to Microscopic Physics: The Renormalization Group in Quantum Field Theory.Li Bihui - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1211-1223.
    The renormalization group has been characterized as merely a coarse-graining procedure that does not illuminate the microscopic content of quantum field theory, but merely gets us from that content, as given by axiomatic QFT, to macroscopic predictions. I argue that in the constructive field theory tradition, RG techniques do illuminate the microscopic dynamics of a QFT, which are not automatically given by axiomatic QFT. RG techniques in constructive field theory are also rigorous, so one cannot object to their foundational import (...)
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