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Scientific Realism Made Effective

Williams, Porter (2017) Scientific Realism Made Effective. [Preprint]

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Abstract

I argue that a common philosophical approach to the interpretation of physical theories -- particularly quantum field theories -- has led philosophers astray. It has driven many to declare the quantum field theories employed by practicing physicists, so-called ``effective field theories,'' to be unfit for philosophical interpretation. In particular, such theories have been deemed unable to support a realist interpretation. I argue that these claims are mistaken: attending to the manner in which these theories are employed in physical practice, I show that interpreting effective field theories yields a robust foundation for a more refined approach to scientific realism in the context of quantum field theory. The paper concludes by briefly sketching some general morals for interpretive practice in the philosophy of physics.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Williams, Porterporter.williams@pitt.edu
Additional Information: Forthcoming in BJPS. v2: acknowledgments added.
Keywords: Scientific Realism, Selective Realism, Quantum Field Theory, Effective Field Theory, Renormalization
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Porter Williams
Date Deposited: 20 May 2017 13:57
Last Modified: 20 May 2017 13:57
Item ID: 13052
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 8 March 2017
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/13052

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