Artificial versus Substantial Gauge Symmetries: A Criterion and an Application to the Electroweak Model

Philosophy of Science 86 (3):472-496 (2019)
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Abstract

To systematically answer the generalized Kretschmann objection, I propose a mean to make operational a criterion widely recognized as allowing one to decide whether the gauge symmetry of a theory is artificial or substantial. My proposition is based on the dressing field method of gauge symmetry reduction, a new simple tool from mathematical physics. This general scheme allows one in particular to straightforwardly argue that the notion of spontaneous symmetry breaking is superfluous to the empirical success of the electroweak theory. Important questions regarding the context of justification of the theory then arise.

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References found in this work

Holism and structuralism in U(1) gauge theory.Holger Lyre - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (4):643-670.
Curie’s Principle and spontaneous symmetry breaking.John Earman - 2004 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (2 & 3):173 – 198.
The Elusive Higgs Mechanism.Chris Smeenk - 2006 - Philosophy of Science 73 (5):487-499.

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