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  1. Symmetry and Reformulation: On Intellectual Progress in Science and Mathematics.Josh Hunt - 2022 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
    Science and mathematics continually change in their tools, methods, and concepts. Many of these changes are not just modifications but progress---steps to be admired. But what constitutes progress? This dissertation addresses one central source of intellectual advancement in both disciplines: reformulating a problem-solving plan into a new, logically compatible one. For short, I call these cases of compatible problem-solving plans "reformulations." Two aspects of reformulations are puzzling. First, reformulating is often unnecessary. Given that we could already solve a problem using (...)
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  • Epistemic Dependence and Understanding: Reformulating through Symmetry.Josh Hunt - 2023 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 74 (4):941-974.
    Science frequently gives us multiple, compatible ways of solving the same problem or formulating the same theory. These compatible formulations change our understanding of the world, despite providing the same explanations. According to what I call "conceptualism," reformulations change our understanding by clarifying the epistemic structure of theories. I illustrate conceptualism by analyzing a typical example of symmetry-based reformulation in chemical physics. This case study poses a problem for "explanationism," the rival thesis that differences in understanding require ontic explanatory differences. (...)
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  • Hamiltonian Privilege.Josh Hunt, Gabriele Carcassi & Christine Aidala - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-24.
    We argue that Hamiltonian mechanics is more fundamental than Lagrangian mechanics. Our argument provides a non-metaphysical strategy for privileging one formulation of a theory over another: ceteris paribus, a more general formulation is more fundamental. We illustrate this criterion through a novel interpretation of classical mechanics, based on three physical conditions. Two of these conditions suffice for recovering Hamiltonian mechanics. A third condition is necessary for Lagrangian mechanics. Hence, Lagrangian systems are a proper subset of Hamiltonian systems. Finally, we provide (...)
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