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The Heuristic Function of Duality

De Haro, Sebastian (2019) The Heuristic Function of Duality. Synthese, 196. pp. 5169-5203. ISSN 1573-0964

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I conceptualise the role of dualities in quantum gravity, in terms of their functions for theory construction. I distinguish between two functions of duality in physical practice: namely, discovering and describing 'equivalent physics', vs. suggesting 'new physics'. I dub these the 'theoretical' vs. the 'heuristic' functions of dualities. The distinction seems to have gone largely unnoticed in the philosophical literature: and it exists both for dualities, and for the more general relation of theoretical equivalence. The paper develops the heuristic function of dualities: illustrating how they can be used, if one has any luck, to find and formulate new theories. I also point to the different physical commitments about the theories in question that underlie these two functions. I show how a recently developed schema for dualities articulates the differences between the two functions.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
De Haro,
Keywords: heuristics, duality, methodology in quantum gravity
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Methodology
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Depositing User: Dr Sebastian De Haro
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2020 03:40
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2020 03:40
Item ID: 16992
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Methodology
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Gravity
Date: 1 December 2019
Page Range: pp. 5169-5203
Volume: 196
ISSN: 1573-0964

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