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Underconsideration in Space-time and Particle Physics

Pitts, J. Brian (2017) Underconsideration in Space-time and Particle Physics. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Unconceived alternatives could threaten scientific realism. The example of space-time and particle physics indicates a generic heuristic for quantitative sciences for constructing potentially serious cases of underdetermination, involving one-parameter family of rivals T_m (m real and small) that work as a team rather than as a single rival against default theory T_0. In important examples this new parameter has a physical meaning (e.g., particle mass) and makes a crucial _conceptual_ difference, shrinking the symmetry group and in some cases putting gauge freedom, formal indeterminism vs. determinism, the presence of the hole argument, etc., at risk. It is proposed that the idea of a philosophically "serious rival" involves a theory's plausibility (prior), its fit to data (likelihood), and its making a philosophical (not merely empirical) difference, giving a kind of philosophical expected
utility. Methodologies akin to eliminative induction or tempered subjective Bayesianism are more demonstrably reliable than the custom of attending only to "our
best theory": they can lead either to a serious rivalry or to improved arguments for the favorite theory. The example of General Relativity (massless spin 2 in particle physics terminology) vs. massive spin 2 gravity, a recent topic in the physics literature, is discussed. Arguably the General Relativity and philosophy literatures have ignored the most serious rival to General Relativity.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Pitts, J. Brianjbp25@cam.ac.uk0000-0002-7299-5137
Keywords: underconsideration underdetermination unconceived alternatives determinism hole argument graviton mass particle physics General Relativity
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Dr. Dr. J. Brian Pitts
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2018 01:12
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2018 01:12
Item ID: 14527
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: December 2017
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14527

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