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An Invitation to Approximate Symmetry, with Three Applications to Intertheoretic Relations

Fletcher, Samuel C. (2019) An Invitation to Approximate Symmetry, with Three Applications to Intertheoretic Relations. Synthese. ISSN 1573-0964

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Abstract

Merely approximate symmetry is mundane enough in physics that one rarely finds any explication of it. Among philosophers it has also received scant attention compared to exact symmetries. Herein I invite further consideration of this concept that is so essential to the practice of physics and interpretation of physical theory. After motivating why it deserves such scrutiny, I propose a minimal definition of approximate symmetry - that is, one that presupposes as little structure on a physical theory to which it is applied as seems needed. Then I apply this definition to three topics: first, accounting for or explaining the symmetries of a theory emeritus in intertheoretic reduction; second, explicating and evaluating the Curie-Post principle; and third, a new account of accidental symmetry.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Fletcher, Samuel C.scfletch@umn.edu0000-0002-9061-8976
Additional Information: This is the postprint version, i.e., pre-copyediting. Also available at author's website.
Keywords: Symmetry, Approximation, Similarity, Intertheoretic reduction, Curie-Post principle, Accidental symmetry, Quasicrystals
Subjects: General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Prof. Samuel C. Fletcher
Date Deposited: 29 May 2020 03:28
Last Modified: 29 May 2020 03:28
Item ID: 17230
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s11229-019-02371-x
Subjects: General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 14 August 2019
ISSN: 1573-0964
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17230

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