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Fraser, Doreen (2012) SSB: QSM vs. QFT. [Preprint]

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    Philosophical analysis of spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) in particle physics has been hindered by the unavailability of rigorous formulations of models in quantum field theory (QFT). A strategy for addressing this problem is to use the rigorous models that have been constructed for SSB in quantum statistical mechanics (QSM) systems as a basis for drawing analogous conclusions about SSB in QFT. Based on an analysis of this strategy as an instance of the application of the same mathematical formalism to different domains and as an instance of drawing analogies between domains, I conclude that certain structural explanations can be exported from QSM to QFT, but that causal explanations cannot.

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Forthcoming in Philosophy of Science, Proceedings of PSA 2010 (Symposia)
    Keywords: spontaneous symmetry breaking, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics, applicability of mathematics, analogical reasoning
    Subjects: General Issues > Causation
    General Issues > Explanation
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
    General Issues > Structure of Theories
    Depositing User: Doreen Fraser
    Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2012 12:19
    Last Modified: 28 Jul 2012 12:19
    Item ID: 9258

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