University Of Pittsburgh, HPS
Department Of Philosophy
Alumnus
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
PhilPapers Editorships
Quantum Theories
  •  8
    Review of Mark Wilson, Physics Avoidance (review)
    Philosophy of Science 88 (4): 742-750. 2021.
  •  32
    The non-miraculous success of formal analogies in quantum theories
    In S. French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Scientific Realism and the Quantum, Oxford University Press. 2020.
    The Higgs model was developed using purely formal analogies to models of superconductivity. This is in contrast to historical case studies such as the development of electromagnetism, which employed physical analogies. As a result, quantum case studies such as the development of the Higgs model carry new lessons for the scientific realism--anti-realism debate. I argue that, by breaking the connection between success and approximate truth, the use of purely formal analogies is a counterexample to…Read more
  •  49
    Analogies between classical statistical mechanics and quantum field theory played a pivotal role in the development of renormalization group methods for application in the two theories. This paper focuses on the analogies that informed the application of RG methods in QFT by Kenneth Wilson and collaborators in the early 1970's. The central task that is accomplished is the identification and analysis of the analogical mappings employed. The conclusion is that the analogies in this case study are …Read more
  •  20
    The Higgs mechanism and superconductivity: A case study of formal analogies
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 55 72-91. 2016.
    Following the experimental discovery of the Higgs boson, physicists explained the discovery to the public by appealing to analogies with condensed matter physics. The historical root of these analogies is the analogies to models of superconductivity that inspired the introduction of spontaneous symmetry breaking into particle physics in the early 1960s. We offer a historical and philosophical analysis of the analogies between the Higgs model of the electroweak interaction and the Ginsburg-Landau…Read more
  •  12
    I have defended the view that an interpretation of QFT should be based on a rigorous axiomatic variant of the theory. There are two significant objections to this position: that no realistic model of any set of axioms has ever been constructed and that there is nothing to be gained from pursuing the axiomatic program for QFT. In the course of defending myself from these objections, I will discuss some of the recent literature on constructing models for interacting systems.
  •  199
    Although the philosophical literature on the foundations of quantum field theory recognizes the importance of Haag’s theorem, it does not provide a clear discussion of the meaning of this theorem. The goal of this paper is to make up for this deficit. In particular, it aims to set out the implications of Haag’s theorem for scattering theory, the interaction picture, the use of non-Fock representations in describing interacting fields, and the choice among the plethora of the unitarily inequivale…Read more
  •  23
    The third law in Newton's Waste book (or, the road less taken to the second law)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (1): 43-60. 2005.
    On the basis of evidence drawn from the Waste book, Westfall and Nicholas have argued that Newton arrived at his second law of motion by reflecting on the implications of the first law. I analyze another argument in the Waste book which reveals that Newton also arrived at the second law by another very different route. On this route, it is the consideration of the third law and the principle of conservation of motion—and not the first law—that prompts Newton to formulate the second law. The exis…Read more
  •  35
    Formal and physical equivalence in two cases in contemporary quantum physics
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 59 30-43. 2017.
  •  21
    SSB: QSM vs. QFT
    Philosophy of Science 79 905-916. 2012.
    Philosophical analysis of spontaneous symmetry breaking in particle physics has been hindered by the unavailability of rigorous formulations of models in quantum field theory. A strategy for addressing this problem is to use the rigorous models that have been constructed for SSB in quantum statistical mechanics systems as a basis for drawing analogous conclusions about SSB in QFT. Based on an analysis of this strategy as an instance of the application of the same mathematical formalism to differ…Read more
  •  143
    How to take particle physics seriously: A further defence of axiomatic quantum field theory
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (2): 126-135. 2011.
    Further arguments are offered in defence of the position that the variant of quantum field theory (QFT) that should be subject to interpretation and foundational analysis is axiomatic quantum field theory. I argue that the successful application of renormalization group (RG) methods within alternative formulations of QFT illuminates the empirical content of QFT, but not the theoretical content. RG methods corroborate the point of view that QFT is a case of the underdetermination of theory by emp…Read more
  •  75
    Philosophical analysis of spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) in particle physics has been hindered by the unavailability of rigorous formulations of models in quantum field theory (QFT). A strategy for addressing this problem is to use the rigorous models that have been constructed for SSB in quantum statistical mechanics (QSM) systems as a basis for drawing analogous conclusions about SSB in QFT. On the basis of an analysis of this strategy as an instance of the application of the same mathema…Read more
  •  56
    Meinard Kuhlmann, Holger Lyre and Andrew Wayne, Editors, Ontological aspects of quantum field theory, World Scientific Publishing, London (2002) ISBN 981-238-182-1 (376 pp., US $98, £ 73) (review)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (4): 721-723. 2004.
  •  280
    The fate of 'particles' in quantum field theories with interactions
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4): 841-859. 2008.
    Most philosophical discussion of the particle concept that is afforded by quantum field theory has focused on free systems. This paper is devoted to a systematic investigation of whether the particle concept for free systems can be extended to interacting systems. The possible methods of accomplishing this are considered and all are found unsatisfactory. Therefore, an interacting system cannot be interpreted in terms of particles. As a consequence, quantum field theory does not support the inclu…Read more
  •  240
    Quantum field theory: Underdetermination, inconsistency, and idealization
    Philosophy of Science 76 (4): 536-567. 2009.
    Quantum field theory (QFT) presents a genuine example of the underdetermination of theory by empirical evidence. There are variants of QFT—for example, the standard textbook formulation and the rigorous axiomatic formulation—that are empirically indistinguishable yet support different interpretations. This case is of particular interest to philosophers of physics because, before the philosophical work of interpreting QFT can proceed, the question of which variant should be subject to interpretat…Read more