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David Baker
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  1.  57
    Some Consequences of Physics for the Comparative Metaphysics of Quantity.David John Baker - 2020 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Volume 12. Oxford University Press. pp. 75-112.
    According to comparativist theories of quantities, their intrinsic values are not fundamental. Instead, all the quantity facts are grounded in scale-independent relations like "twice as massive as" or "more massive than." I show that this sort of scale independence is best understood as a sort of metaphysical symmetry--a principle about which transformations of the non-fundamental ontology leave the fundamental ontology unchanged. Determinism--a core scientific concept easily formulated in absolutist terms--is more difficult for the comparativist to define. After settling on the (...)
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  2. Against Field Interpretations of Quantum Field Theory.David John Baker - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):585-609.
    I examine some problems standing in the way of a successful `field interpretation' of quantum field theory. The most popular extant proposal depends on the Hilbert space of `wavefunctionals.' But since wavefunctional space is unitarily equivalent to many-particle Fock space, two of the most powerful arguments against particle interpretations also undermine this form of field interpretation. IntroductionField Interpretations and Field OperatorsThe Wavefunctional InterpretationFields and Inequivalent Representations 4.1. The Rindler representation 4.2. Spontaneous symmetry breaking 4.3. Coherent representations The Fate of Fields (...)
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  3. Symmetry and the Metaphysics of Physics.David John Baker - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (12):1157-1166.
    The widely held picture of dynamical symmetry as surplus structure in a physical theory has many metaphysical applications. Here, I focus on its relevance to the question of which quantities in a theory represent fundamental natural properties.
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  4. On Spacetime Functionalism.David John Baker - manuscript
    Eleanor Knox has argued that our concept of spacetime applies to whichever structure plays a certain functional role in the laws (the role of determining local inertial structure). I raise two complications for this approach. First, our spacetime concept seems to have the structure of a cluster concept, which means that Knox's inertial criteria for spacetime cannot succeed with complete generality. Second, the notion of metaphysical fundamentality may feature in the spacetime concept, in which case spacetime functionalism may be uninformative (...)
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  5. Antimatter.David John Baker & Hans Halvorson - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):93-121.
    Next SectionThe nature of antimatter is examined in the context of algebraic quantum field theory. It is shown that the notion of antimatter is more general than that of antiparticles. Properly speaking, then, antimatter is not matter made up of antiparticles—rather, antiparticles are particles made up of antimatter. We go on to discuss whether the notion of antimatter is itself completely general in quantum field theory. Does the matter–antimatter distinction apply to all field theoretic systems? The answer depends on which (...)
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  6. Broken Symmetry and Spacetime.David John Baker - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (1):128-148.
    The phenomenon of broken spacetime symmetry in the quantum theory of infinite systems forces us to adopt an unorthodox ontology. We must abandon the standard conception of the physical meaning of these symmetries, or else deny the attractive “liberal” notion of which physical quantities are significant. A third option, more attractive but less well understood, is to abandon the existing (Halvorson-Clifton) notion of intertranslatability for quantum theories.
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  7.  6
    Knox’s Inertial Spacetime Functionalism.David John Baker - 2020 - Synthese 199 (S2):277-298.
    Eleanor Knox has argued that our concept of spacetime applies to whichever structure plays a certain functional role in the laws. I raise two objections to this inertial functionalism. First, it depends on a prior assumption about which coordinate systems defined in a theory are reference frames, and hence on assumptions about which geometric structures are spatiotemporal. This makes Knox’s account circular. Second, her account is vulnerable to several counterexamples, giving the wrong result when applied to topological quantum field theories (...)
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  8.  90
    The Philosophy of Quantum Field Theory.David John Baker - unknown
    If we divide our physical theories into theories of matter and theories of spacetime, quantum field theory is our most fundamental empirically successful theory of matter. As such, it has attracted increasing attention from philosophers over the past two decades, beginning to eclipse its predecessor theory of quantum mechanics in the philosophical literature. Here I survey some central philosophical puzzles about the theory's foundations.
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  9.  15
    Knox’s inertial spacetime functionalism.David John Baker - 2020 - Synthese 199 (Suppl 2):1-22.
    Eleanor Knox has argued that our concept of spacetime applies to whichever structure plays a certain functional role in the laws. I raise two objections to this inertial functionalism. First, it depends on a prior assumption about which coordinate systems defined in a theory are reference frames, and hence on assumptions about which geometric structures are spatiotemporal. This makes Knox’s account circular. Second, her account is vulnerable to several counterexamples, giving the wrong result when applied to topological quantum field theories (...)
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  10. How is Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking Possible? Understanding Wigner's Theorem in Light of Unitary Inequivalence.David John Baker & Hans Halvorson - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (4):464-469.
    We pose and resolve a puzzle about spontaneous symmetry breaking in the quantum theory of infinite systems. For a symmetry to be spontaneously broken, it must not be implementable by a unitary operator in a ground state's GNS representation. But Wigner's theorem guarantees that any symmetry's action on states is given by a unitary operator. How can this unitary operator fail to implement the symmetry in the GNS representation? We show how it is possible for a unitary operator of this (...)
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  11. The Conventionality of Parastatistics.David John Baker, Hans Halvorson & Noel Swanson - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (4):929-976.
    Nature seems to be such that we can describe it accurately with quantum theories of bosons and fermions alone, without resort to parastatistics. This has been seen as a deep mystery: paraparticles make perfect physical sense, so why don’t we see them in nature? We consider one potential answer: every paraparticle theory is physically equivalent to some theory of bosons or fermions, making the absence of paraparticles in our theories a matter of convention rather than a mysterious empirical discovery. We (...)
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  12. Does String Theory Posit Extended Simples?David John Baker - unknown
    It is sometimes claimed that string theory posits a fundamental ontology including extended mereological simples, either in the form of minimum-sized regions of space or of the strings themselves. But there is very little in the actual theory to support this claim, and much that suggests it is false. Extant string theories treat space as a continuum, and strings do not behave like simples.
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  13. Identity, Superselection Theory, and the Statistical Properties of Quantum Fields.David John Baker - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (2):262-285.
    The permutation symmetry of quantum mechanics is widely thought to imply a sort of metaphysical underdetermination about the identity of particles. Despite claims to the contrary, this implication does not hold in the more fundamental quantum field theory, where an ontology of particles is not generally available. Although permutations are often defined as acting on particles, a more general account of permutation symmetry can be formulated using superselection theory. As a result, permutation symmetry applies even in field theories with no (...)
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  14.  1
    1. Really Statistical Explanations and Genetic Drift Really Statistical Explanations and Genetic Drift (Pp. 169-188).Marc Lange, Peter Vickers, John Michael, Miles MacLeod, Alexander R. Pruss, David John Baker, Clark Glymour & Simon Fitzpatrick - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (2):169-188.
    Really statistical explanation is a hitherto neglected form of noncausal scientific explanation. Explanations in population biology that appeal to drift are RS explanations. An RS explanation supplies a kind of understanding that a causal explanation of the same result cannot supply. Roughly speaking, an RS explanation shows the result to be mere statistical fallout.
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  15.  33
    Sider on Determinism in Absolutist Theories of Quantity.David John Baker - manuscript
    Ted Sider has shown that my indeterminism argument for comparativist theories of quantity also applies to Mundy's absolutist theory. This is because Mundy's theory posits only "pure" relations, i.e. relations between values of the same quantity (between masses and other masses, or distances and other distances). It is straightforward to solve the problem by positing additional mixed relations.
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  16.  40
    Interpreting Supersymmetry.David John Baker - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.
    Supersymmetry in quantum physics is a mathematically simple phenomenon that raises deep foundational questions. To motivate these questions, I present a toy model, the supersymmetric harmonic oscillator, and its superspace representation, which adds extra anticommuting dimensions to spacetime. I then explain and comment on three foundational questions about this superspace formalism: whether superspace is a substance, whether it should count as spatiotemporal, and whether it is a necessary postulate if one wants to use the theory to unify bosons and fermions.
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  17.  11
    What Are Symmetries?David John Baker - unknown
    I advance a stipulational account of symmetries, according to which symmetries are part of the content of theories. For a theory to have a certain symmetry is for the theory to stipulate that models related by the symmetry represent the same possibility. I show that the stipulational account compares positively with alternatives, including Dasgupta's epistemic account of symmetry, Moller-Nielsen's motivational account, and so-called formal and ontic accounts. In particular, the stipulational account avoids the problems Belot and Dasgupta have raised against (...)
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  18.  39
    Review of David Albert, After Physics. [REVIEW]David John Baker - unknown
  19.  38
    Review: Frank Arntzenius: Space, Time, and Stuff. [REVIEW]David John Baker - 2013 - Philosophical Explorations.
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  20.  26
    Gauging What's Real: The Conceptual Foundations of Gauge Theories, by Richard Healey.David John Baker - 2010 - Mind 119 (474):490-494.
  21.  32
    Review of Richard Healey, Gauging What's Real. [REVIEW]David John Baker - unknown
    Review of Richard Healey's 2008 book. To appear in MIND.
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  22.  14
    Frank Arntzenius, Space, Time, and Stuff. Oxford: Oxford University Press , 320 Pp., $49.50. [REVIEW]David John Baker - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (1):171-174.
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