Fundamentality, Scale, and the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect

Erkenntnis 86 (6):1411-1430 (2021)
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We examine arguments for distinguishing between ontological and epistemological concepts of fundamentality, focusing in particular on the role that scale plays in these concepts. Using the fractional quantum Hall effect as a case study, we show that we can draw a distinction between ontologically fundamental and non-fundamental theories without insisting that it is only the fundamental theories that get the ontology right: there are cases where non-fundamental theories involve distinct ontologies that better characterize real systems than fundamental ones do. In order to reconcile these distinct ontologies between fundamental and non-fundamental theories, we suggest that ontology must be understood as scale-dependent.



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Author Profiles

Elay Shech
Auburn University
Patrick McGivern
University of Wollongong

References found in this work

Scientific Perspectivism.Ronald N. Giere - 2006 - University of Chicago Press.
Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized.James Ladyman & Don Ross - 2007 - In James Ladyman, Don Ross, David Spurrett & John Collier (eds.), Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized. Oxford University Press.
Unity of Science as a Working Hypothesis.Paul Oppenheim & Hilary Putnam - 1958 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 2:3-36.

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