Renormalizability, Fundamentality, and a Final Theory: The Role of UV-Completion in the Search for Quantum Gravity

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):377-406 (2019)
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Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity, where novel empirical data are lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is ultraviolet completion: the idea that a theory should hold up to all possible high energies. We argue— contra standard scientific practice—that UV-completion is poorly motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore the reasons for expecting, or desiring, a UV-complete theory, as well as analyse how UV-completion is used, and how it should be used, in various specific approaches to QG. 1Introduction 1.1Principles in theory development and evaluation 2Primer on UV-Completion, Renormalizability, and All That 2.1Renormalizability and UV-completion 2.2Other forms of UV-completion 3Why Should QG Be UV-Complete? 3.1UV-completion and fundamentality 3.2UV-completion and minimal length 4UV-Completion in Different Approaches to QG 4.1String theory 4.2Asymptotic safety 4.3Causal dynamical triangulation 4.4Higher derivative approaches 4.5Supergravity 4.6Causal set theory 4.7Canonical QG 4.8Loop quantum gravity 4.9Approaches based on alternative gravitational theories 4.10Emergent gravity approaches 5UV-Completion as a Guiding Principle in QG 6Conclusion



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Author Profiles

Karen Crowther
University of Oslo
Niels Linnemann
University of Geneva