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Sophistry about symmetries?

Synthese 199 (1-2):315-344 (2020)

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  1. The Role of Symmetry in the Interpretation of Physical Theories.Adam Caulton - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):153-162.
    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 (...)
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  • Symmetry and Equivalence.Gordon Belot - 2013 - In Robert Batterman (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Physics. Oxford University Press. pp. 318-339.
    This paper is concerned with the relation between two notions: that of two solutions or models of a theory being related by a symmetry of the theory and that of solutions or models being physically equivalent. A number of authors have recently discussed this relation, some taking an optimistic view, on which there is a suitable concept of the symmetry of a theory relative to which these two notions coincide, others taking a pessimistic view, on which there is no such (...)
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  • Sophistication About Symmetries.Neil Dewar - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):485-521.
    Suppose that one thinks that certain symmetries of a theory reveal “surplus structure”. What would a formalism without that surplus structure look like? The conventional answer is that it would be a reduced theory: a theory which traffics only in structures invariant under the relevant symmetry. In this paper, I argue that there is a neglected alternative: one can work with a sophisticated version of the theory, in which the symmetries act as isomorphisms.
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  • The Tools of Metaphysics and the Metaphysics of Science.Theodore Sider - 2020 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Metaphysics has shifted ground, moving away from necessity and possibility as the lens through which we look at things. Ted Sider shapes the agenda for the subject by exploring how this shift transforms the project of understanding the objects, properties, and quantities of the universe, and the relations between them, in terms of structures.
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  • The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
  • The Principles of Mathematics.Bertrand Russell - 1903 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 11 (4):11-12.
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  • Motivating Dualities.James Read & Thomas Møller-Nielsen - 2020 - Synthese 197 (1):263-291.
    There exists a common view that for theories related by a ‘duality’, dual models typically may be taken ab initio to represent the same physical state of affairs, i.e. to correspond to the same possible world. We question this view, by drawing a parallel with the distinction between ‘interpretational’ and ‘motivational’ approaches to symmetries.
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  • Physics and Leibniz's Principles.Simon Saunders - 2003 - In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. pp. 289--307.
    It is shown that the Hilbert-Bernays-Quine principle of identity of indiscernibles applies uniformly to all the contentious cases of symmetries in physics, including permutation symmetry in classical and quantum mechanics. It follows that there is no special problem with the notion of objecthood in physics. Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason is considered as well; this too applies uniformly. But given the new principle of identity, it no longer implies that space, or atoms, are unreal.
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  • Realism, Underdetermination and String Theory Dualities.Keizo Matsubara - 2013 - Synthese 190 (3):471-489.
    String theory promises to be able to provide us with a working theory of quantum gravity and a unified description of all fundamental forces. In string theory there are so called ‘dualities’; i.e. different theoretical formulations that are physically equivalent. In this article these dualities are investigated from a philosophical point of view. Semantic and epistemic questions relating to the problem of underdetermination of theories by data and the debate on realism concerning scientific theories are discussed. Depending on ones views (...)
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  • Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections.Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.) - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
    Highlighting main issues and controversies, this book brings together current philosophical discussions of symmetry in physics to provide an introduction to the subject for physicists and philosophers. The contributors cover all the fundamental symmetries of modern physics, such as CPT and permutation symmetry, as well as discussing symmetry-breaking and general interpretational issues. Classic texts are followed by new review articles and shorter commentaries for each topic. Suitable for courses on the foundations of physics, philosophy of physics and philosophy of science, (...)
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  • Regarding the ‘Hole Argument’.James Owen Weatherall - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (2):329-350.
    I argue that the hole argument is based on a misleading use of the mathematical formalism of general relativity. If one is attentive to mathematical practice, I will argue, the hole argument is blocked. _1._ Introduction _2._ A Warmup Exercise _3._ The Hole Argument _4._ An Argument from Classical Spacetime Theory _5._ The Hole Argument Revisited.
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  • Topics in the Foundations of General Relativity and Newtonian Gravitation Theory.David B. Malament - 2012 - Chicago: Chicago University Press.
    1.1 Manifolds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1.2 Tangent Vectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (...)
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  • Physical Relativity: Space–Time Structure From a Dynamical Perspective.Harvey Brown - 2005 - Philosophy 82 (321):498-503.
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  • Fifty Million Elvis Fans Can’T Be Wrong.Gordon Belot - 2018 - Noûs:946-981.
    This essay revisits some classic problems in the philosophy of space and time concerning the counting of possibilities. I argue that we should think that two Newtonian worlds can differ only as to when or where things happen and that general relativistic worlds can differ in something like the same way—the first of these theses being quaintly heterodox, the second baldly heretical, according to the mores of contemporary philosophy of physics.
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  • Against Laplacian Reduction of Newtonian Mass to Spatiotemporal Quantities.Niels C. M. Martens - 2018 - Foundations of Physics 48 (5):591-609.
    Laplace wondered about the minimal choice of initial variables and parameters corresponding to a well-posed initial value problem. Discussions of Laplace’s problem in the literature have focused on choosing between spatiotemporal variables relative to absolute space or merely relative to other material bodies and between absolute masses or merely mass ratios. This paper extends these discussions of Laplace’s problem, in the context of Newtonian Gravity, by asking whether mass needs to be included in the initial state at all, or whether (...)
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  • Moderate Structural Realism About Space-Time.Michael Esfeld & Vincent Lam - 2008 - Synthese 160 (1):27 - 46.
    This paper sets out a moderate version of metaphysical structural realism that stands in contrast to both the epistemic structural realism of Worrall and the—radical—ontic structural realism of French and Ladyman. According to moderate structural realism, objects and relations (structure) are on the same ontological footing, with the objects being characterized only by the relations in which they stand. We show how this position fares well as regards philosophical arguments, avoiding the objections against the other two versions of structural realism. (...)
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  • Gauging What's Real: The Conceptual Foundations of Contemporary Gauge Theories.Richard Healey - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
    This is a prize-winning study of an area of physics not previously explored by philosophy: gauge theory. Gauge theories have provided our most successful representations of the fundamental forces of nature. But how do such representations work? Healey defends an original answer to this question.
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  • The Principles of Quantum Mechanics.P. A. M. Dirac - 1930 - Clarendon Press.
    THE PRINCIPLE OF SUPERPOSITION. The need for a quantum theory Classical mechanics has been developed continuously from the time of Newton and applied to an ...
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  • Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World.Robert Nozick - 2001 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
    Excerpts from Robert Nozick's "Invariances" Necessary truths are invariant across all possible worlds, contingent ones across only some.
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  • The Bare Necessities.Shamik Dasgupta - 2011 - Philosophical Perspectives 25 (1):115-160.
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  • Understanding Gauge.James Owen Weatherall - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (5):1039-1049.
    I consider two usages of the expression "gauge theory". On one, a gauge theory is a theory with excess structure; on the other, a gauge theory is any theory appropriately related to classical electromagnetism. I make precise one sense in which one formulation of electromagnetism, the paradigmatic gauge theory on both usages, may be understood to have excess structure, and then argue that gauge theories on the second usage, including Yang-Mills theory and general relativity, do not generally have excess structure (...)
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  • The (Un)Detectability of Absolute Newtonian Masses.Niels C. M. Martens - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2511-2550.
    Absolutism about mass claims that mass ratios obtain in virtue of absolute masses. Comparativism denies this. Dasgupta, Oxford studies in metaphysics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013) argues for comparativism about mass, in the context of Newtonian Gravity. Such an argument requires proving that comparativism is empirically adequate. Dasgupta equates this to showing that absolute masses are undetectable, and attempts to do so. This paper develops an argument by Baker to the contrary: absolute masses are in fact empirically meaningful, that is (...)
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  • The Interpretation of String-Theoretic Dualities.James Read - 2016 - Foundations of Physics 46 (2):209-235.
    We analyse the possibility that string-theoretic dualities present a genuine case of strong underdetermination of theory by evidence. Drawing on the parallel discussion of the hole argument, we assess the possible interpretations of dualities. We conclude that there exist at least two defensible interpretations on which dualities do not present a worrying case of underdetermination per se.
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  • On Dualities and Equivalences Between Physical Theories.Jeremy Butterfield - forthcoming - In Christian Wüthrich, Baptiste Le Bihan & Nick Huggett (eds.), Philosophy Beyond Spacetime. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    The main aim of this paper is to make a remark about the relation between dualities between theories, as `duality' is understood in physics and equivalence of theories, as `equivalence' is understood in logic and philosophy. The remark is that in physics, two theories can be dual, and accordingly get called `the same theory', though we interpret them as disagreeing---so that they are certainly not equivalent, as `equivalent' is normally understood. So the remark is simple: but, I shall argue, worth (...)
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  • Machian Comparativism About Mass.Niels C. M. Martens - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz013.
    Absolutism about mass within Newtonian gravity claims that mass ratios obtain in virtue of absolute masses. Comparativism denies this. Defenders of comparativism promise to recover all the empirical and theoretical virtues of absolutism, but at a lower ‘metaphysical cost’. This article develops a Machian form of comparativism about mass in Newtonian gravity, obtained by replacing Newton’s constant in the law of universal gravitation by another constant divided by the sum over all masses. Although this form of comparativism is indeed empirically (...)
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  • Right, Left, and the Fourth Dimension.James van Cleve - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (1):33-68.
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  • World Enough and Space‐Time: Absolute Versus Relational Theories of Space and Time.Robert Toretti & John Earman - 1989 - Philosophical Review 101 (3):723.
  • Against Comparativism About Mass in Newtonian Gravity - a Case Study in the Metaphysics of Scale.Niels C. M. Martens - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Oxford
    This thesis concerns the metaphysics of scale. It investigates the implications of a physical determinable being dimensionful. In particular, it considers the case study of mass, as it features within Newtonian Gravity. Nevertheless, most of the terminology, methodology and arguments developed should be relatively straightforwardly applicable to other determinables and theories. -/- Weak Absolutism about mass holds that mass ratios obtain in virtue of absolute masses. Weak Comparativism denies this. In the first five chapters I argue in favour of Weak (...)
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  • Symmetry as an Epistemic Notion.Shamik Dasgupta - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):837-878.
    Symmetries in physics are a guide to reality. That much is well known. But what is less well known is why symmetry is a guide to reality. What justifies inferences that draw conclusions about reality from premises about symmetries? I argue that answering this question reveals that symmetry is an epistemic notion twice over. First, these inferences must proceed via epistemic lemmas: premises about symmetries in the first instance justify epistemic lemmas about our powers of detection, and only from those (...)
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  • Time Remains.Sean Gryb & Karim P. Y. Thébault - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):663-705.
    On one popular view, the general covariance of gravity implies that change is relational in a strong sense, such that all it is for a physical degree of freedom to change is for it to vary with regard to a second physical degree of freedom. At a quantum level, this view of change as relative variation leads to a fundamentally timeless formalism for quantum gravity. Here, we will show how one may avoid this acute ‘problem of time’. Under our view, (...)
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  • Symmetries and the Philosophy of Language.Neil Dewar - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):317-327.
    In this paper, I consider the role of exact symmetries in theories of physics, working throughout with the example of gravitation set in Newtonian spacetime. First, I spend some time setting up a means of thinking about symmetries in this context; second, I consider arguments from the seeming undetectability of absolute velocities to an anti-realism about velocities; and finally, I claim that the structure of the theory licences us to interpret models which differ only with regards to the absolute velocities (...)
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  • Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1919 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 89:465-466.
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  • Kant, Incongruous Counterparts, and the Nature of Space and Space-Time.John Earman - 1991 - In James Van~Cleve & Robert E. Frederick (eds.), The Philosophy of Right and Left. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 131--149.
    The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, I want to examine some rather curious arguments of Kant’s which purport to show that some alleged properties of space can be derived from some alleged facts about incongruous counterparts. Secondly, I want to give some preliminary answers to some important questions about the distinction between right and left and the nature of space and space-time which are raised by Kant’s argument. As a byproduct, I hope that the discussion will provide an (...)
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  • Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World.Robert Nozick - 2001 - Philosophy 80 (311):145-151.
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  • The Hole Argument.John D. Norton - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:56 - 64.
    I give an informal outline of the hole argument which shows that spacetime substantivalism leads to an undesirable indeterminism in a broad class of spacetime theories. This form of the argument depends on the selection of differentiable manifolds within a spacetime theory as representing spacetime. I consider the conditions under which the argument can be extended to address versions of spacetime substantivalism which select these differentiable manifolds plus some further structure to represent spacetime. Finally, I respond to the criticisms of (...)
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  • Redundant Epistemic Symmetries.James Read & Thomas Møller-Nielsen - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 70:88-97.
  • A Schema for Duality, Illustrated by Bosonization.Sebastian De Haro & Jeremy Butterfield - unknown
    In this paper we present a schema for describing dualities between physical theories, and illustrate it in detail with the example of bosonization: a boson-fermion duality in two-dimensional quantum field theory. The schema develops proposals in De Haro : these proposals include construals of notions related to duality, like representation, model, symmetry and interpretation. The aim of the schema is to give a more precise criterion for duality than has so far been considered. The bosonization example, or boson-fermion duality, has (...)
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  • Invariance, Interpretation, and Motivation.Thomas Møller-Nielsen - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1253-1264.
    In this article I assess the Invariance Principle, which states that only quantities that are invariant under the symmetries of our theories are physically real. I argue, contrary to current orthodoxy, that the variance of a quantity under a theory’s symmetries is not a sufficient basis for interpreting that theory as being uncommitted to the reality of that quantity. Rather, I argue, the variance of a quantity under symmetries only ever serves as a motivation to refrain from any commitment to (...)
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  • Are Quantities Relations? A Reply to Bigelow and Pargetter.D. M. Armstrong - 1988 - Philosophical Studies 54 (3):305 - 316.
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  • Reflections on Parity Nonconservation.Nick Huggett - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (2):219-241.
    This paper considers the implications for the relational-substantival debate of observations of parity nonconservation in weak interactions, a much neglected topic. It is argued that 'geometric proofs' of absolute space, first proposed by Kant (1768), fail, but that parity violating laws allow 'mechanical proofs', like Newton's laws. Parity violating laws are explained and arguments analogous to those of Newton's Scholium are constructed to show that they require absolute spacetime structure--namely, an orientation--as Newtonian mechanics requires affine structure. Finally, it is considered (...)
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  • Deflating the Aharonov-Bohm Effect.David Wallace - unknown
    I argue that the metaphysical import of the Aharonov-Bohm effect has been overstated: correctly understood, it does not require either rejection of gauge invariance or any novel form of nonlocality. The conclusion that it does require one or the other follows from a failure to keep track, in the analysis, of the complex scalar field to which the magnetic vector potential is coupled. Once this is recognised, the way is clear to a local account of the ontology of electrodynamics ; (...)
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  • Symmetry and Gauge Freedom.Gordon Belot - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 34 (2):189-225.
    The classical field theories that underlie the quantum treatments of the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces share a peculiar feature: specifying the initial state of the field determines the evolution of some degrees of freedom of the theory while leaving the evolution of some others wholly arbitrary. This strongly suggests that some of the variables of the standard state space lack physical content-intuitively, the space of states of such a theory is of higher dimension than the corresponding space of genuine (...)
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  • Dualities of Fields and Strings.Joseph Polchinski - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 59:6-20.
  • A Philosopher Looks at String Dualities.Dean Rickles - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (1):54-67.
  • Absolutism Vs Comparativism About Quantity.Shamik Dasgupta - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8:105-150.
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  • The Shape of Space.G. Nerlich - 1978 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 29 (3):299-301.
     
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  • The Principles of Quantum Mechanics.P. A. M. Dirac - 1936 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 43 (2):5-5.
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  • The Shape of Space.G. Nerlich - 1996 - Critica 28 (82):127-131.
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  • Symmetry as a Guide to Superfluous Theoretical Structure.Jenann Ismael & Bas C. van~Fraassen - 2003 - In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. pp. 371--92.
  • Incongruent Counterparts.Ralph Walker - 1991 - In James Van~Cleve & Robert E. Frederick (eds.), The Philosophy of Right and Left. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 187--194.