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On Dualities and Equivalences Between Physical Theories

Butterfield, Jeremy (2018) On Dualities and Equivalences Between Physical Theories. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The main aim of this paper is to make a remark about the relation between (i) dualities between theories, as `duality' is understood in physics and (ii) equivalence of theories, as `equivalence' is understood in logic and philosophy. The remark is that in physics, two theories can be dual, and accordingly get called `the same theory', though we interpret them as disagreeing---so that they are certainly not equivalent, as `equivalent' is normally understood. So the remark is simple: but, I shall argue, worth stressing---since often neglected.

My argument for this is based on the account of duality developed by De Haro: which is illustrated here with several examples, from both elementary physics and string theory. Thus I argue that in some examples, including in string theory, two dual theories disagree in their claims about the world.

I also spell out how this remark implies a limitation of proposals (both traditional and recent) to understand theoretical equivalence as either logical equivalence or a weakening of it.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Butterfield, Jeremyjb56@cam.ac.uk0000-0002-0215-5802
Additional Information: Forthcoming (abridged) in ‘Philosophy Beyond Spacetime’ (OUP), edited by N. Huggett, B. Le Bihan and C. W\"{u}thrich. Dedicated to Graeme Segal.
Keywords: duality, theoretical equivalence, logical equivalence, definitional equivalence, intensional semantics, string theory, gauge/gravity duality, T-duality
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Jeremy Butterfield
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2018 15:38
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2018 15:38
Item ID: 14736
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: May 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14736

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