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The Higgs mechanism gives mass to YangMills gauge bosons. According to the conventional wisdom, this happens through the spontaneous breaking of gauge symmetry. Yet, gauge symmetries merely reflect a redundancy in the state description and therefore the spontaneous breaking can not be an essential ingredient. Indeed, as already shown by Higgs and Kibble, the mechanism can be explained in terms of gauge invariant variables, without invoking spontaneous symmetry breaking. In this paper, we present a general discussion of such gauge invariant (...) 

To systematically answer the generalized Kretschmann objection, I propose a mean to make operational a criterion widely recognized as allowing one to decide whether the gauge symmetry of a theory is artificial or substantial. My proposition is based on the dressing field method of gauge symmetry reduction, a new simple tool from mathematical physics. This general scheme allows one in particular to straightforwardly argue that the notion of spontaneous symmetry breaking is superfluous to the empirical success of the electroweak theory. (...) 

I discuss Earman's program to achieve an objective account of the Higgs mechanism within the C∗ algebraic approach to quantum field theory. Pointing to three results obtained within this approach, I argue that if one follows Earman and understands the Higgs mechanism as a constraint, it appears to be a genuine quantum phenomenon that does not simply arise through the correspondence principle. This casts further this casts doubts on the validity of the Dirac conjecture that identifies firstclass constraints and gauge (...) 

The paper studies the topography of the model landscape of the physics in the Higgs sector both within the Standard Model of Elementary Particle Physics and beyond in the months before the discovery of a SM Higgs boson. At first glance, this landscape appears fragmented into a large number of different models and research communities. But it also clusters around certain guiding ideas, among them supersymmetry or dynamical symmetry breaking, in which representative and narrative features of the models are combined. (...) 



A brief introduction to the physics and philosophy of symmetry breaking. 

Gauge symmetries play a central role, both in the mathematical foundations as well as the conceptual construction of modern (particle) physics theories. However, it is yet unclear whether they form a necessary component of theories, or whether they can be eliminated. It is also unclear whether they are merely an auxiliary tool to simplify (and possibly localize) calculations or whether they contain independent information. Therefore their status, both in physics and philosophy of physics, remains to be fully clarified. In this (...) 

I examine the construction process of the “Higgs mechanism” and its subsequent use by Steven Weinberg to formulate the electroweak theory of elementary particle physics. I characterize the development of the Higgs mechanism as a historical process that was guided through analogies drawn to the theories of solidstate physics and that was progressive through diverse contributions in the sixties from a number of physicists working independently. I also offer a detailed comparative study of the similarities and the differences that exist (...) 

The Higgs mechanism is very powerful: it furnishes a description of the electroweak theory in the Standard Model which has a convincing experimental verification. But although the Higgs mechanism had been applied successfully, the conceptual background is not clear. The Higgs mechanism is often presented as spontaneous breaking of a local gauge symmetry. But a local gauge symmetry is rooted in redundancy of description: gauge transformations connect states that cannot be physically distinguished. A gauge symmetry is therefore not a symmetry (...) 

The paper is an attempt to react as direct and as close as possible on Dummett’s 2007 paper by addressing his overall theses about bridging the gulfs between philosophers and physicists and between analytical and continental philosophy on the one hand and, on the other hand, picking up a couple of more detailed issues Dummett raises about physics and its philosophy. 

This paper explores the argument structure of the concept of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the electroweak gauge theory of the Standard Model: the socalled Higgs mechanism. As commonly understood, the Higgs argument is designed to introduce the masses of the gauge bosons by a spontaneous breaking of the gauge symmetry of an additional field, the Higgs field. The technical derivation of the Higgs mechanism, however, consists in a mere reshuffling of degrees of freedom by transforming the Higgs Lagrangian in a (...) 

This paper argues that there is no single universal conception of scientific explanation that is consistently employed throughout the whole domain of Higgs physics—ranging from the successful experimental search for a standard model Higgs particle and the hitherto unsuccessful searches for any particles beyond the standard model, to phenomenological model builders in the Higgs sector and theoretical physicists interested in how the core principles of quantum field theory apply to spontaneous symmetry breaking and the Higgs mechanism. Yet the coexistence of (...) 

The paper investigates the spontaneous breaking of gauge symmetries in gauge theories from a philosophical angle, taking into account the fact that the notion of a spontaneously broken local gauge symmetry, though widely employed in textbook expositions of the Higgs mechanism, is not supported by our leading theoretical frameworks of gauge quantum theories. In the context of lattice gauge theory, the statement that local gauge symmetry cannot be spontaneously broken can even be made rigorous in the form of Elitzur’s theorem. (...) 

Classical and quantum field theory provide not only realistic examples of extant notions of empirical equivalence, but also new notions of empirical equivalence, both modal and occurrent. A simple but modern gravitational case goes back to the 1890s, but there has been apparently total neglect of the simplest relativistic analog, with the result that an erroneous claim has taken root that Special Relativity could not have accommodated gravity even if there were no bending of light. The fairly recent acceptance of (...) 

This paper seeks to recover the function of universal history, which was to place particulars into relation with universals. By the 20th century universal history was largely discredited because of an idealism that served to lend epistemic coherence to the overwhelming complexity arising from universal history's comprehensive scope. Idealism also attempted to account for history's being "open"for the human ability to transcend circumstance. The paper attempts to recover these virtues without the idealism by defining universal history not by its scope (...) 

Many of the advances in string theory have been generated by the discovery of new duality symmetries connecting what were once thought to be distinct theories, solu tions, processes, backgrounds, and more. Indeed, duality has played an enormously important role in the creation and development of numerous theories in physics and numerous fields of mathematics. Dualities often lie at those fruitful intersections at which mathematics and physics are especially strongly intertwined. In this paper I describe some of these dualities and (...) 

We examine physicists’ charge of ad hocness against the Higgs mechanism in the standard model of elementary particle physics. We argue that even though this charge never rested on a clearcut and wellentrenched definition of “ad hoc”, it is based on conceptual and methodological assumptions and principles that are wellfounded elements of the scientific practice of highenergy particle physics. We further evaluate the implications of the recent discovery of a Higgslike particle at the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider for the charge (...) 

I give a response to Adrian Wüthrich’s critical review of my analysis of the Higgs mechanism, in which I try to clarify some possible misunderstandings. I concede that, as Wüthrich points out, many physicists see the Higgs mechanism as the rollover from a symmetrical potential in the initial Lagrangian to a symmetrybreaking potential, while my former analysis had basically focused on the gaugeinvariant transformation of the initial Lagrangian into the intended form. My main contention, however, still is that neither Higgs (...) 

On the occasion of the recent experimental detection of a Higgstype particle at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the paper reviews philosophical aspects of the Higgs mechanism as the presently preferred account of the generation of particle masses in the Standard Model of elementary particle physics and its most discussed extensions. The paper serves a twofold purpose: on the one hand, it offers an introduction to the Higgs mechanism and its most interesting philosophical aspects to readers not familiar with (...) 

