How to take particle physics seriously: A further defence of axiomatic quantum field theory

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (2):126-135 (2011)
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Abstract

Further arguments are offered in defence of the position that the variant of quantum field theory (QFT) that should be subject to interpretation and foundational analysis is axiomatic quantum field theory. I argue that the successful application of renormalization group (RG) methods within alternative formulations of QFT illuminates the empirical content of QFT, but not the theoretical content. RG methods corroborate the point of view that QFT is a case of the underdetermination of theory by empirical evidence. I also urge caution in extrapolating interpretive conclusions about QFT from the application of RG methods in other contexts (e.g., condensed matter physics). This paper replies to criticisms advanced by David Wallace, but aims to be self-contained.

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Doreen Fraser
University of Waterloo

Citations of this work

Scientific Realism Made Effective.Porter Williams - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):209-237.
The Real Problem with Perturbative Quantum Field Theory.James D. Fraser - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):391-413.

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References found in this work

What is Mathematical Truth?Hilary Putnam - 1975 - In Mathematics, Matter and Method. Cambridge University Press. pp. 60--78.
The fate of 'particles' in quantum field theories with interactions.Doreen Fraser - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4):841-859.
A matter of degree: Putting unitary inequivalence to work.Laura Ruetsche - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1329-1342.

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