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On Surplus Structure Arguments

Fletcher, Samuel C. (2018) On Surplus Structure Arguments. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Surplus structure arguments famously identify elements of a theory regarded as excess or superfluous. If there is an otherwise analogous theory that does without such elements, a surplus structure argument prompts adopting it over the one with those elements. Despite their prominence, the form, justification, and range of applicability of such arguments is disputed. I provide an account of these, following Dasgupta ([2016]) for the form, which makes plain the role of observables and observational equivalence. However, I diverge on the justification: instead of demanding that the symmetries of the theory relevant for surplus structure arguments be defined without recourse to any interpretation of those theories, I suggest that the process of identifying what is observable and its consequences for symmetries work in dialog. They settle through a reflective equilibrium that is responsible to new experiments, arguments, and examples. Besides better aligning with paradigmatic uses of the surplus structure argument, this position also has some broader consequences for scope of these arguments and the relationship between symmetry and interpretation more generally.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Fletcher, Samuel C.scfletch@umn.edu0000-0002-9061-8976
Keywords: Symmetry, Surplus structure, Observation, Reflective Equilibrium
Subjects: General Issues > Structure of Theories
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Prof. Samuel C. Fletcher
Date Deposited: 26 May 2020 22:34
Last Modified: 26 May 2020 22:34
Item ID: 17226
Subjects: General Issues > Structure of Theories
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: 19 November 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17226

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