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The Elusive Higgs Mechanism

Philosophy of Science 73 (5):487-499 (2006)

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  1. Two Dimensions of Opacity and the Deep Learning Predicament.Florian J. Boge - 2022 - Minds and Machines 32 (1):43-75.
    Deep neural networks have become increasingly successful in applications from biology to cosmology to social science. Trained DNNs, moreover, correspond to models that ideally allow the prediction of new phenomena. Building in part on the literature on ‘eXplainable AI’, I here argue that these models are instrumental in a sense that makes them non-explanatory, and that their automated generation is opaque in a unique way. This combination implies the possibility of an unprecedented gap between discovery and explanation: When unsupervised models (...)
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  • Gauge Invariant Accounts of the Higgs Mechanism.Ward Struyve - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (4):226-236.
    The Higgs mechanism gives mass to Yang-Mills 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 (...)
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  • Artificial Versus Substantial Gauge Symmetries: A Criterion and an Application to the Electroweak Model.Jordan François - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (3):472-496.
    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. (...)
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  • Constraining the Higgs Mechanism: Ontological Worries and the Prospects for an Algebraic Cure.Michael Stöltzner - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (5):930-941.
    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 first-class constraints and gauge (...)
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  • Higgs Models and Other Stories About Mass Generation.Michael Stöltzner - 2014 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (2):369-386.
    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. (...)
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  • Eschewing Entities: Outlining a Biology Based Form of Structural Realism.Steven French - 2013 - In Vassilios Karakostas & Dennis Dieks (eds.), Epsa11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science. Springer. pp. 371--381.
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  • Symmetry Breaking.Elena Castellani & Radin Dardashti - 2021 - In Eleanor Knox & Alistair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics. Routledge.
    A brief introduction to the physics and philosophy of symmetry breaking.
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  • Gauge Symmetries, Symmetry Breaking, and Gauge-Invariant Approaches.Philipp Berghofer, Jordan Francois, Simon Friederich, Henrique Gomes, Guy Hetzroni, Axel Maas & René Sondenheimer - unknown
    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 (...)
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  • The Construction of the Higgs Mechanism and the Emergence of the Electroweak Theory.Koray Karaca - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (1):1-16.
    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 solid-state 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 (...)
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  • Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking in the Higgs Mechanism.Suzanne van Dam - unknown
    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 (...)
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  • The Place of Philosophy of Physics in Physics and Philosophy: A Response to Michael Dummett.Holger Lyre - 2012 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 8 (1):120-132.
    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.
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  • Does the Higgs Mechanism Exist?Holger Lyre - 2008 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (2):119-133.
    This paper explores the argument structure of the concept of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the electroweak gauge theory of the Standard Model: the so-called 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 (...)
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  • The Variety of Explanations in the Higgs Sector.Michael Stöltzner - 2017 - Synthese 194 (2).
    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 (...)
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  • Gauge Symmetry Breaking in Gauge Theories—in Search of Clarification.Simon Friederich - 2013 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (2):157-182.
    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. (...)
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  • Permanent Underdetermination From Approximate Empirical Equivalence in Field Theory: Massless and Massive Scalar Gravity, Neutrino, Electromagnetic, Yang–Mills and Gravitational Theories.J. Brian Pitts - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (2):259-299.
    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 (...)
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  • Universal History and the Emergence of Species Being.Brown Haines - manuscript
    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 (...)
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  • The Interpretation of String Dualities.Dean Rickles - unknown
    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 (...)
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  • Philosophical Perspectives on Ad Hoc Hypotheses and the Higgs Mechanism.Simon Friederich, Robert V. Harlander & Koray Karaca - 2014 - Synthese 191 (16):3897-3917.
    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 clear-cut and well-entrenched definition of “ad hoc”, it is based on conceptual and methodological assumptions and principles that are well-founded elements of the scientific practice of high-energy particle physics. We further evaluate the implications of the recent discovery of a Higgs-like particle at the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider for the charge (...)
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  • The Just-So Higgs Story: A Response to Adrian Wüthrich. [REVIEW]Holger Lyre - 2012 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (2):289-294.
    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 roll-over from a symmetrical potential in the initial Lagrangian to a symmetry-breaking potential, while my former analysis had basically focused on the gauge-invariant transformation of the initial Lagrangian into the intended form. My main contention, however, still is that neither Higgs (...)
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  • A Philosophical Look at the Higgs Mechanism.Simon Friederich - 2014 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (2):335-350.
    On the occasion of the recent experimental detection of a Higgs-type 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 (...)
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  • A Philosopher Looks at String Dualities.Dean Rickles - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (1):54-67.
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