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Quantum field theories are notoriously difficult to understand, physically as well as philosophically. The aim of this paper is to contribute to a better conceptual understanding of gauge quantum field theories, such as quantum chromodynamics, by discussing a famous physical limit, the ’t Hooft limit, in which the theory concerned often simplifies. The idea of the limit is that the number N of colours goes to infinity. The simplifications that can happen in this limit, and that we will consider, are: (...) 



Theories in fundamental physics are unlikely to be ontologically neutral, yet they may nonetheless fail to offer decisive empirical support for or against particular metaphysical positions. I illustrate this point by close examination of a particular objection raised by Wolfgang Pauli against Hermann Weyl. The exchange reveals that both parties to the dispute appeal to broader epistemological principles to defend their preferred metaphysical starting points. I suggest that this should make us hesitant to assume that in deriving metaphysical conclusions from (...) 



This article discusses the peculiar features of quantum entanglement and quantum nonlocality within the algebraic approach to relativistic quantum field theory (RQFT). The debate on the ontology of RQFT is considered in the light of these wellknown but little discussed features. In particular, this article examines the ontic structural realist understanding of quantum entanglement and quantum nonlocality and its contribution to this debate. 

In this paper I detail three major mathematical developments that led to the emergence of Yang–Mills theories as the foundation for the standard model of particle physics. In less than 10 years, work on renormalizability, the renormalization group, and lattice quantum field theory highlighted the utility of Yang–Mills type models of quantum field theory by connecting poorly understood candidate dynamical models to emerging experimental results. I use this historical case study to provide lessons for theory construction in physics, and touch (...) 

A major obstacle facing interpreters of quantum field theory is a proliferation of different theoretical frameworks. This article surveys three of the main available options—Lagrangian, Wightman, and algebraic QFT—and examines how they are related. Although each framework emphasizes different aspects of QFT, leading to distinct strengths and weaknesses, there is less tension between them than commonly assumed. Given the limitations of our current knowledge and the need for creative new ideas, I urge philosophers to explore puzzles, tools, and techniques from (...) 

Some physicists and philosophers argue that unitarily inequivalent representations in quantum field theory are mathematical surplus structure. Support for that view, sometimes called ‘algebraic imperialism’, relies on Fell’s theorem and its deployment in the algebraic approach to QFT. The algebraic imperialist uses Fell’s theorem to argue that UIRs are ‘physically equivalent’ to each other. The mathematical, conceptual, and dynamical aspects of Fell’s theorem will be examined. Its use as a criterion for physical equivalence is examined in detail and it is (...) 

Quantum mechanics, and classical mechanics, are framework theories that incorporate many different concrete theories which in general cannot be arranged in a neat hierarchy, but discussion of ‘the ontology of quantum mechanics’ tends to proceed as if quantum mechanics were a single concrete theory, specifically the physics of nonrelativistically moving point particles interacting by longrange forces. I survey the problems this causes and make some suggestions for how a more physically realistic perspective ought to influence the metaphysics of quantum mechanics. 

Effective Quantum Field Theories (EFTs) are effective insofar as they apply within a prescribed range of lengthscales, but within that range they predict and describe with extremely high accuracy and precision. The effectiveness of EFTs is explained by identifying the features – the scaling behaviour of the parameters – which lead to effectiveness. The explanation relies on distinguishing autonomy with respect to changes in microstates, from autonomy with respect to changes in microlaws, and relating these, respectively, to renormalisability and naturalness. (...) 

In this article, I briefly explain the quantum measurement problem and the Everett interpretation, in a way that is faithful to modern physics and yet accessible to readers without any physics training. I then consider the metaphysical lessons for ontology from quantum mechanics under the Everett interpretation. My conclusions are largely negative: I argue that very little can be said in full generality about the ontology of quantum mechanics, because quantum mechanics, like abstract classical mechanics, is a framework within which (...) 

Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity (QG), where novel empirical data is lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is UV completion: the idea that a theory should (formally) hold up to all possible high energies. We argue/contra/ standard scientific practicethat UVcompletion is poorlymotivated as a guiding principle in theoryconstruction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theoryjustification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...) 

The perturbative approach to quantum field theory has long been viewed with suspicion by philosophers of science. This paper offers a diagnosis of its conceptual problems. Drawing on Norton’s discussion of the notion of approximation I argue that perturbative QFT ought to be understood as producing approximations without specifying an underlying QFT model. This analysis leads to a reassessment of common worries about perturbative QFT. What ends up being the key issue with the approach on this picture is not mathematical (...) 

Some physicists and philosophers argue that unitarily inequivalent representations in quantum field theory are mathematical surplus structure. Support for that view, sometimes called ‘algebraic imperialism’, relies on Fell’s theorem and its deployment in the algebraic approach to QFT. The algebraic imperialist uses Fell’s theorem to argue that UIRs are ‘physically equivalent’ to each other. The mathematical, conceptual, and dynamical aspects of Fell’s theorem will be examined. Its use as a criterion for physical equivalence is examined in detail and it is (...) 

I argue that a common philosophical approach to the interpretation of physical theories—particularly quantum field theories—has led philosophers astray. It has driven many to declare the quantum field theories employed by practicing physicists, socalled ‘effective field theories’, to be unfit for philosophical interpretation. In particular, such theories have been deemed unable to support a realist interpretation. I argue that these claims are mistaken: attending to the manner in which these theories are employed in physical practice, I show that interpreting effective (...) 

The renormalization group has been characterized as merely a coarsegraining procedure that does not illuminate the microscopic content of quantum field theory, but merely gets us from that content, as given by axiomatic QFT, to macroscopic predictions. I argue that in the constructive field theory tradition, RG techniques do illuminate the microscopic dynamics of a QFT, which are not automatically given by axiomatic QFT. RG techniques in constructive field theory are also rigorous, so one cannot object to their foundational import (...) 

Constructive field theory aims to rigorously construct concrete, nontrivial solutions to Lagrangians used in particle physics. I examine the relationship of solutions in constructive field theory to both axiomatic and Lagrangian quantum field theory. I argue that Lagrangian QFT provides conditions for what counts as a successful constructive solution and other information that guides constructive field theorists to solutions. Solutions matter because they describe the behavior of QFT systems and thus what QFT says the world is like. Constructive field theory (...) 

In this paper I begin with a recent challenge to the Semantic Approach and identify an underlying assumption, namely that identity conditions for theories should be provided. Drawing on previous work, I suggest that this demand should be resisted and that the Semantic Approach should be seen as a philosophical device that we may use to represent certain features of scientific practice. Focussing on the partial structures variant of that approach, I then consider a further challenge that arises from a (...) 

We argue that the distinction between framework and interaction theories should be taken carefully into consideration when dealing with the philosophical implications of fundamental theories in physics. In particular, conclusions concerning the nature of reality can only be consistently derived from assessing the ontological and epistemic purport of both types of theories. We put forward an epistemic form of realism regarding framework theories, such as Quantum Field Theory. The latter, indeed, informs us about the general properties of quantum fields, laying (...) 

This paper analyses the practice of modelbuilding “beyond the Standard Model” in contemporary highenergy physics and argues that its epistemic function can be grasped by regarding models as mediating between the phenomenology of the Standard Model and a number of “theoretical cores” of hybrid character, in which mathematical structures are combined with verbal narratives and analogies referring back to empirical results in other fields . Borrowing a metaphor from a physics research paper, modelbuilding is likened to the search for a (...) 



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. (...) 