Authors
Adam Caulton
Oxford University
Abstract
The symmetries of a physical theory are often associated with two things: conservation laws and representational redundancies. But how can a physical theory's symmetries give rise to interesting conservation laws, if symmetries are transformations that correspond to no genuine physical difference? In this article, I argue for a disambiguation in the notion of symmetry. The central distinction is between what I call "analytic" and "synthetic" symmetries, so called because of an analogy with analytic and synthetic propositions. "Analytic" symmetries are the turning of idle wheels in a theory's formalism, and correspond to no physical change; "synthetic" symmetries cover all the rest. I argue that analytic symmetries are distinguished because they act as fixed points or constraints in any interpretation of a theory, and as such are akin to Poincaré's conventions or Reichenbach's 'axioms of co-ordination', or 'relativized constitutive a priori principles'.
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsb.2015.08.002
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References found in this work BETA

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
New Work for a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
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Citations of this work BETA

Sophistication About Symmetries.Neil Dewar - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):485-521.
Maxwell Gravitation.Neil Dewar - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (2):249-270.
On Symmetry and Duality.Sebastian De Haro & Jeremy Butterfield - forthcoming - Synthese 198 (4):2973-3013.

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