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The Many Dimensions of the String Theory Wars

Ritson, Sophie (2016) The Many Dimensions of the String Theory Wars. PhD Thesis - University of Sydney.

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Abstract

String theory, over its near five decade history, has attracted a great deal of controversy, which continues to evolve to the present day. The string theory controversy has novel aspects which highlight how contemporary science continues to develop. Those novel aspects include: non-empirical scientific methodologies and theory appraisal; a negotiation of the boundary between science and non-science where the dominant group is forced to defend its authority; and a potentially new form of peer review. With the controversy yet to be settled, at stake is how science is understood within high energy physics, acceptable methods for generating theoretical science and the optimal organization of expert communities. There are many points of conflict in the string wars. Rather than a debate between two incompatible and opposing sides, this thesis offers a more complex understanding of the string wars. The picture that is presented is organised into a taxonomy that groups the points of conflict into debates concerning ‘philosophy’, ‘sociology’, ‘technology’ and ‘methodology’. This approach seeks to shift the understanding of the debates from where it currently stands, namely where the string wars are held up as evidence of an emergent conceptualisation of science that is contested by a traditional conception of science, to a more nuanced understanding. Instead of two opposing sides, characterised by a positive and negative appraisal of string theory, a variety of positions can been identified, each concerning a different point of conflict.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Ritson, Sophie
Keywords: String theory Controversy Non-empirical theory appraisal
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Depositing User: Dr Sophie Ritson
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2020 02:08
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2020 02:08
Item ID: 16978
Journal or Publication Title: PhD Thesis - University of Sydney
Official URL: https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/14968
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Date: 2016
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16978

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