•  12
    Interpreting the Wigner–Eckart Theorem
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 87 28-43. 2021.
    The Wigner--Eckart theorem is central to the application of symmetry principles throughout atomic, molecular, and nuclear physics. Nevertheless, the theorem has a puzzling feature: it is dispensable for solving problems within these domains, since elementary methods suffice. To account for the significance of the theorem, I first contrast it with an elementary approach to calculating matrix elements. Next, I consider three broad strategies for interpreting the theorem: conventionalism, fundament…Read more
  •  88
    Epistemic Dependence & Understanding: Reformulating through Symmetry
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    Science frequently gives us multiple, compatible ways of solving the same problem or formulating the same theory. These compatible formulations change our understanding of the world, despite providing the same explanations. According to what I call "conceptualism," reformulations change our understanding by clarifying the epistemic structure of theories. I illustrate conceptualism by analyzing a typical example of symmetry-based reformulation in chemical physics. This case study poses a problem …Read more
  •  69
    Understanding and Equivalent Reformulations
    Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    Reformulating a scientific theory often leads to a significantly different way of understanding the world. Nevertheless, accounts of both theoretical equivalence and scientific understanding have neglected this important aspect of scientific theorizing. This essay provides a positive account of how reformulating theories changes our understanding. My account simultaneously addresses a serious challenge facing existing accounts of scientific understanding. These accounts have failed to characteri…Read more
  •  67
    Alan Baker’s enhanced indispensability argument supports mathematical platonism through the explanatory role of mathematics in science. Busch and Morrison defend nominalism by denying that scientific realists use inference to the best explanation to directly establish ontological claims. In response to Busch and Morrison, I argue that nominalists can rebut the EIA while still accepting Baker’s form of IBE. Nominalists can plausibly require that defenders of the EIA establish the indispensability…Read more