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Gauge and Ghosts

Hetzroni, Guy (2019) Gauge and Ghosts. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. ISSN 1464-3537

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This paper suggests a fresh look at gauge symmetries, with the aim of drawing a clear line between the a priori theoretical considerations involved, and some methodological and empirical non-deductive aspects which are often overlooked. The gauge argument is primarily based on a general symmetry principle expressing the idea that a change of mathematical representation should not change the form of the dynamical law. In addition, the ampliative part of the argument is based on the introduction of new degrees of freedom into the theory according to a methodological principle that is formulated here in terms of correspondence between passive and active transformations. To demonstrate how the two kinds of considerations work together in a concrete context, I begin by considering spatial symmetries in mechanics. I suggest understanding Mach's principle as a similar combination of theoretical, methodological and empirical considerations, and demonstrate the claim with a simple toy model. I then examine gauge symmetries as a manifestation of the two principles in a quantum context. I further show that in all of these cases the relational nature of physically significant quantities can explain the relevance of the symmetry principle and the way the methodology is applied. In the quantum context the relevant relational variables are quantum phases.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Keywords: Quantum theory The Gauge Argument Symmetry Principles
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Dr. Guy Hetzroni
Date Deposited: 31 May 2019 14:13
Last Modified: 31 May 2019 14:13
Item ID: 16064
Journal or Publication Title: The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Oxford University Press
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 28 May 2019
ISSN: 1464-3537

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