Particles in Quantum Field Theory

In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 323-336 (2022)
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Abstract

The consensus view among philosophers of physics is that relativistic quantum field theory does not describe particles. That is, according to QFT, particles are not fundamental entities. How is this negative conclusion compatible with the positive role that the particle notion plays in particle physics? The first part of this chapter lays out multiple lines of negative argument that all conclude that QFT cannot be given a particle interpretation. These arguments probe the properties of the `particles' in standard formulations of QFT and the limited applicability of `particle' representations. The second part of the chapter surveys proposals for non-fundamental roles that the particle concept plays in particle physics. The conclusion suggests directions for future philosophical research.

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Doreen Fraser
University of Waterloo

References found in this work

Interpreting Quantum Theories: The Art of the Possible.Laura Ruetsche - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Scientific Realism Made Effective.Porter Williams - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):209-237.
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.

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