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Invariance, Symmetries and Structural Realism

Authors
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Symmetries/Invariances
Disciplines
  • Philosophy
  • Physics

Abstract

The paper discusses the invariance view of reality: a view inspired by the relativity and quantum theory. It is an attempt to show that both versions of Structural Realism (epistemological and ontological) are already embedded in the invariance view but in each case the invariance view introduces important modifications. From the invariance view we naturally arrive at a consideration of symmetries and structures. It is often claimed that there is a strong connection between invariance and reality, established by symmetries. The invariance view seems to render frame-invariant properties real, while frame-specific properties are illusory. But on a perspectival, yet observer-free view of frame-specific realities they too must be regarded as real although supervenient on frame-invariant realities. Invariance and perspectivalism are thus two faces of symmetries. Symmetries also elucidate structures. Because of this recognition, the invariance view is more comprehensive than Structural Realism. Referring to broken symmetries and coherence considerations, the paper concludes that at least some symmetries are ontological, not just epistemological constraints.

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