Chapter

In Search of Coherence

Mathias Frisch

in Inconsistency, Asymmetry, and Non-Locality

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195172157
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835294 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195172159.003.0003

Series: Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Science

 In Search of Coherence

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This chapter examines equations of motion that are alternatives to the standard Maxwell-Lorentz theory. It argues that there is no consistent and conceptually unproblematic theory that covers particle-field phenomena. The only consistent and well-behaved electromagnetic theory is not a particle theory at all — the theory of charged dusts; this theory is incompatible with the existence of charged particles on its own. The kind of equations that physicists proposed as ‘fundamental’ or ‘exact’ equations, and their reasons for supporting these equations indicate that there is no sharp distinction between a foundational project aimed at finding coherent and true representations of what is physically possible, and a project concerned with practical, useful representations of particular phenomena.

Keywords: equations of motion; Maxwell-Lorentz theory; particle-field phenomena; theory of charged dusts

Chapter.  13798 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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