Quantum field theories and aesthetic disparity


Abstract
The theoretical physicist Paul Dirac rejected, explicitly on aesthetic grounds, a successful theory known as quantum electrodynamics (QED), which is the prototype for the family of theories known as quantum field theories (QFTs). Remarkably, the theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg, also largely on aesthetic grounds, supports QED and other QFTs. In order to evaluate these opposing aesthetic views a short introduction to the physical properties of QFTs is presented together with a detailed analysis of the aesthetic claims of Dirac and Weinberg. It turns out that Dirac rejected QED, without regard to its success, because this theory fails to yield to what he perceived as beautiful mathematics, whereas Weinberg's support of QFTs is founded primarily on the physical concepts of the theories. In particular, he relies on symmetries that are the basis for the construction of the extremely successful current fundamental theories of particles physics. This success was decisive in leading to Weinberg's conviction of the beauty of QFTs. As a result of the evaluation of these approaches, the factors causing scientists to perceive a theory as being a fundamentally beautiful theory are discussed in detail.
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DOI 10.1080/02698590020029305
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References found in this work BETA

Beauty & Revolution in Science.James W. McAllister - 1996 - Cornell University Press.
QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter.Richard P. Feynman - 1987 - Science and Society 51 (2):211-214.

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Citations of this work BETA

Mirror Symmetry and Other Miracles in Superstring Theory.Dean Rickles - 2013 - Foundations of Physics 43 (1):54-80.
Einstein and the Most Beautiful Theories in Physics.Gideon Engler - 2002 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (1):27 – 37.
Recent Work on Aesthetics of Science.James W. McAllister - 2002 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (1):7 – 11.
Einstein, His Theories, and His Aesthetic Considerations.Gideon Engler - 2005 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (1):21 – 30.

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Einstein and the Most Beautiful Theories in Physics.Gideon Engler - 2002 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (1):27 – 37.
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Einstein, His Theories, and His Aesthetic Considerations.Gideon Engler - 2005 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (1):21 – 30.
The History and Philosophy of Quantum Field Theory.Don Robinson - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:61 - 68.

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