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The Real Problem with Perturbative Quantum Field Theory

Fraser, James (2017) The Real Problem with Perturbative Quantum Field Theory. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

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Abstract

The perturbative approach to quantum field theory (QFT) has long been viewed with suspicion by philosophers of science. This paper offers a diagnosis of its conceptual problems. Drawing on Norton's ([2012]) discussion of the notion of approximation I argue that perturbative QFT ought to be understood as producing approximations without specifying an underlying QFT model. This analysis leads to a reassessment of common worries about perturbative QFT. What ends up being the key issue with the approach on this picture is not mathematical rigour, or the threat of inconsistency, but the need for a physical explanation of its empirical success.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Fraser, Jamesjamesf09@hotmail.co.uk
Keywords: Quantum Field Theory, Perturbation Theory, Renormalization, Idealization, Approximation
Subjects: General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Depositing User: Mr James Fraser
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2017 20:02
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2017 20:02
Item ID: 13348
Journal or Publication Title: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axx042
Subjects: General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Date: 22 August 2017
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/13348

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