Schwinger and the ontology of quantum field theory

Foundations of Science 12 (4):295-323 (2007)
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Abstract

An epistemological interpretation of quantum mechanics hinges on the claim that the distinctive features of quantum mechanics can be derived from some distinctive features of an observational basis. Old and new variations of this theme are listed. The program has a limited success in non-relativistic quantum mechanics. The crucial issue is how far it can be extended to quantum field theory without introducing significant ontological postulates. A C*-formulation covers algebraic quantum field theory, but not the standard model. Julian Schwinger’s anabatic methodology extended a strict measurement-based formulation of quantum mechanics through field theory. His extension also excluded the quark hypothesis and the standard model. Quarks and local gauge invariance are postulates that go beyond the limits of an epistemological interpretation of quantum mechanics. The ontological significance ascribed to these advances depends on the role accorded ontology.

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Edward MacKinnon
California State University, Hayward

Citations of this work

Why Interpret Quantum Physics?Edward MacKinnon - 2016 - Open Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):86-102.
Measurement and Fundamental Processes in Quantum Mechanics.Gregg Jaeger - 2015 - Foundations of Physics 45 (7):806-819.
The role of a posteriori mathematics in physics.Edward MacKinnon - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 62:166-175.

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References found in this work

Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics.Peter Strawson - 1959 - London, England: Routledge. Edited by Wenfang Wang.
Essays in quasi-realism.Simon Blackburn - 1993 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Structure of scientific theories.Frederick Suppe (ed.) - 1974 - Urbana,: University of Illinois Press.

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