Journal Article

The empirical status of symmetries in physics

P Kosso

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 51, issue 1, pages 81-98
Published in print March 2000 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online March 2000 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/51.1.81
The empirical status of symmetries in physics

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Symmetries in physics are most commonly recognized and discussed in terms of their function in the mathematical formalism of the theories. Discussion of the observation of symmetries in nature is less common. This paper analyses the observation of particular symmetries such as Lorentz and gauge symmetries, distinguishing between direct observation of the symmetry itself and indirect evidence, the latter being the observation of some consequence of the symmetry are, in an important sense, directly observed, while local symmetries such as gauge symmetry are not.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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