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Defining a crisis: The roles of principles in the search for a theory of quantum gravity

Crowther, Karen (2018) Defining a crisis: The roles of principles in the search for a theory of quantum gravity. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In times of crisis, when current theories are revealed as inadequate to task, and new physics is thought to be required---physics turns to re-evaluate its principles, and to seek new ones. This paper explores the various types, and roles of principles that feature in the problem of quantum gravity as a current crisis in physics. I illustrate the diversity of the principles being appealed to, and show that principles serve in a variety of roles in all stages of the crisis, including in motivating the need for a new theory, and defining what this theory should be like. In particular, I consider: the generalised correspondence principle, UV-completion, background independence, and the holographic principle. I also explore how the current crisis fits with Friedman's view on the roles of principles in revolutionary theory-change, finding that while many key aspects of this view are not represented in quantum gravity (at the current stage), the view could potentially offer a useful diagnostic, and prescriptive strategy. This paper is intended to be relatively non-technical, and to bring some of the philosophical issues from the search for quantum gravity to a more general philosophical audience interested in the roles of principles in scientific theory-change.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Crowther, Karenkcro8477@gmail.com0000-0003-1558-4814
Additional Information: To appear in Synthese Special Issue on First Principles in Science
Keywords: Constitutive principles; Scientific revolution; Theory change; Friedman; Holographic principle; Spacetime; Quantum gravity; String theory
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Dr. Karen Crowther
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2018 23:49
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2018 23:49
Item ID: 14984
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14984

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