Haag's theorem, apparent inconsistency, and the empirical adequacy of quantum field theory

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Miller, Michael
preprint description
Haag's theorem has been interpreted as establishing that quantum field theory cannot consistently represent interacting fields. Earman and Fraser have clarified how it is possible to give mathematically consistent calculations in scattering theory despite the theorem. However, their analysis does not fully address the worry raised by the result. In particular, I argue that their approach fails to be a complete explanation of why Haag's theorem does not undermine claims about the empirical adequacy of particular quantum field theories. I then show that such empirical adequacy claims are protected from Haag's result by the techniques that are required to obtain theoretical predictions for realistic experimental observables. I conclude by showing how Haag's theorem is illustrative of a general tension between the foundational significance of results that can be obtained in perturbation theory and non-perturbative characterizations of the content of quantum field theory.