PhilSci Archive

Justifying the use of purely formal analogies in physics

Fraser, Doreen (2022) Justifying the use of purely formal analogies in physics. In: UNSPECIFIED.

[img]
Preview
Text
PSA2020symposiumpaper.pdf

Download (274kB) | Preview

Abstract

Recent case studies have revealed that purely formal analogies have been successfully used as a heuristic in physics. This is at odds with most general philosophical accounts of analogies, which require analogies to be physical in order to be justifiably used. The main goal of this paper is to supply a philosophical account that justifies the use of purely formal analogies in physics. Using Bartha’s (2010) articulation model as a starting point, I offer precise definitions of formal and physical analogies and propose a new submodel of analogical reasoning that accounts for the successful use of purely formal analogies in the development of renormalization group methods for use in particle physics in the early 1970’s (Fraser 2020). Two distinctive features of this new applied mathematics submodel for analogical reasoning are that the conclusion of the argument from analogy includes both an entire model (and not only a hypothesis or a prediction) and the construction procedure for this model. A third important difference from arguments from physical analogy is that only the prima facie plausibility of the conclusion is established, and not stronger types of plausibility associated with confirmation. The use of purely formal analogies is justified because they are suited to supporting conclusions of this sort. Formulating a general philosophical account of analogies that covers purely formal analogies also serves two additional purposes: (1) to highlight the features of this case that are novel in the context of examples of analogies traditionally considered by philosophers and (2) to establish that physicists should not automatically dismiss purely formal analogies when evaluating heuristics for the development of new models.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Fraser, Doreendlfraser@uwaterloo.ca
Keywords: analogies; plausibility; applied mathematics; renormalization group methods; quantum field theory; particle physics
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Applicability
Specific Sciences > Physics > Condensed Matter
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Doreen Fraser
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2022 16:19
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2022 16:19
Item ID: 20494
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Applicability
Specific Sciences > Physics > Condensed Matter
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 20 April 2022
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20494

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item