Symmetry, empirical significance, and identity

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The article proposes a novel approach to the much discussed question of which symmetries have ‘direct empirical significance’ and which do not. The approach is based on a development of a recently proposed framework by Hilary Greaves and David Wallace, who claim that, contrary to the standard folklore among philosophers of physics, ‘local’ symmetries may have direct empirical significance no less than ‘global’ ones. Partly vindicating the standard folklore, a result is derived here from a number of plausible assumptions, that states that local symmetries can indeed have no direct empirical significance. Ways to interpret the result are considered and possible morals are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-559
Number of pages23
JournalBritish journal for the philosophy of science
Issue number3
Early online date9-Apr-2014
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2015
Externally publishedYes

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