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Permanent Underdetermination from Approximate Empirical Equivalence in Field Theory: Massless and Massive Scalar Gravity, Neutrino, Electromagnetic, Yang-Mills and Gravitational Theories

Pitts, J. Brian (2011) Permanent Underdetermination from Approximate Empirical Equivalence in Field Theory: Massless and Massive Scalar Gravity, Neutrino, Electromagnetic, Yang-Mills and Gravitational Theories. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science , 62. pp. 259-299.

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Abstract

Classical and quantum field theory provide not only realistic examples of extant notions of empirical equivalence, but also new notions of empirical equivalence, both modal and occurrent. A simple but modern gravitational case goes back to the 1890s, but there has been apparently total neglect of the simplest relativistic analog, with the
result that an erroneous claim has taken root that Special Relativity could not have accommodated gravity even if there were no bending of light. The fairly recent acceptance of nonzero neutrino masses shows that widely neglected possibilities for nonzero particle masses have sometimes been vindicated. In the electromagnetic case, there is permanent underdetermination at the classical and quantum levels between Maxwell’s theory and the one-parameter family of Proca’s electromagnetisms with massive photons, which approximate Maxwell’s theory in the limit of zero photon mass. While Yang-Mills theories display similar approximate equivalence classically, quantization typically
breaks this equivalence. A possible exception, including unified electroweak theory, might permit a mass term for the photons but not the Yang-Mills vector bosons. Underdetermination between massive and massless (Einstein) gravity even at the classical level is subject to
contemporary controversy.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Pitts, J. Brianjbp25@cam.ac.uk
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in _The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science_ following peer review. The version of record, _BJPS_ 62 (2011) 259-299 is available online at: 10.1093/bjps/axq014.
Keywords: photon, neutrino, massive, particle physics, graviton
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Conventionalism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Dr. Dr. J. Brian Pitts
Date Deposited: 28 Dec 2015 14:20
Last Modified: 28 Dec 2015 14:20
Item ID: 11831
Journal or Publication Title: The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Official URL: http://bjps.oxfordjournals.org/content/62/2/259.ab...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1093/bjps/axq014
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Conventionalism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 2011
Page Range: pp. 259-299
Volume: 62
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11831

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