Symmetry, quantum mechanics, and beyond

Foundations of Science 7 (1-2):181-196 (2002)
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Abstract

The relevance of symmetry to today's physics is a widely acknowledged fact. A significant part of recent physical inquiry – especially the physics concerned with investigating the fundamentalbuilding blocks of nature – is grounded on symmetry principles andtheir many and far-reaching consequences. But where these symmetries come from and what their real meaning is are open questions, at the center of a developing debate among physicists and philosophers of science. To tackle the problems arising in considering the symmetry issue is the main purpose of this paper. Starting with briefly recalling the bases for the discussion – how symmetry enters and operates in physics, its special effectiveness in the quantum domain and the many relevant functions it performs (Sections 1–3), the paper then focus on the general interpretative questions that arise and the sorts of answers that have been given (Section 4).

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Elena Castellani
Università degli Studi di Firenze

Citations of this work

The Essence of Dispositional Essentialism.David Yates - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):93-128.
Are Gauge Symmetry Transformations Observable?Katherine Brading & Harvey R. Brown - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (4):645-665.
Symmetries, Dispositions and Essences.Vassilios Livanios - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (2):295 - 305.

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References found in this work

Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1989 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 182 (3):327-329.
Models and Mathematics in Physics: The Role of Group Theory.Steven French - 1999 - In Jeremy Butterfield & Constantine Pagonis (eds.), From Physics to Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 187--207.
The Empirical Status of Symmetries in Physics.P. Kosso - 2000 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (1):81-98.

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