Journal Article

Kitcher's Explanatory Unification, Kaluza–Klein Theories, and the Normative Aspect of Higher Dimensional Unification in Physics

Koray Karaca

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 63, issue 2, pages 287-312
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axr033
Kitcher's Explanatory Unification, Kaluza–Klein Theories, and the Normative Aspect of Higher Dimensional Unification in Physics

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I examine the relation between explanation and unification in both the original Kaluza–Klein theory, which originated in the works of Theodor Kaluza and Oskar Klein in the 1920s, and in the modern Kaluza–Klein theories which date back to the late 1970s and which are still considered by the majority of the physics community to be the best hope for a complete unified theory of all fundamental interactions. I use the conclusions of this case study to assess the merits of Philip Kitcher's account of explanation as unification. I also draw lessons about physicists’ pursuit of the higher dimensional unification of the fundamental forces of nature.

1Introduction

2Kitcher on Explanatory Unification

3A Close Look at the Kaluza–Klein Theory

  3.1Kaluza's theory: unification of gravity and electromagnetism

  3.2Klein's theory: an elucidation and elaboration of Kaluza's theory

  3.3Klein's compactification of the fifth dimension: explaining the unobserved

4A General Overview of the Emergence of the Modern Kaluza–Klein Theories

5Kaluza–Klein Unification Examined by Kitcher's Standard of Unification

6Concluding Remarks

Journal Article.  10207 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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