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When do we stop digging? Conditions on a fundamental theory of physics

Crowther, Karen (2018) When do we stop digging? Conditions on a fundamental theory of physics. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In seeking an answer to the question of what it means for a theory to be fundamental, it is enlightening to ask why the current best theories of physics are not generally believed to be fundamental. This reveals a set of conditions that a theory of physics must satisfy in order to be considered fundamental. Physics aspires to describe ever deeper levels of reality, which may be without end. Ultimately, at any stage we may not be able to tell whether we've reached rock bottom, or even if there is a base level---nevertheless, I draft a checklist to help us identify when to stop digging, in the case where we may have reached a candidate for a final theory. Given that the list is---according to (current) mainstream belief in high-energy physics---complete, and each criterion well-motivated, I argue that a physical theory that satisfies all the criteria can be assumed to be fundamental in the absence of evidence to the contrary.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Crowther, Karenkcro8477@gmail.com0000-0003-1558-4814
Additional Information: To appear in What is ‘Fundamental’?, edited by Anthony Aguirre, Brendan Foster, and Zeeya Merali, Springer
Keywords: fundamentality; reduction; quantum gravity; general relativity; string theory
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Dr. Karen Crowther
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2018 16:35
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2018 16:35
Item ID: 15039
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15039

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