Taking up superspace--what would it take to be a realist about superspace?

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Menon, Tushar
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conference paper description
Supersymmetry is a crucial part of the string theoretic framework for a theory of quantum gravity. Supersymmetric theories (including those outside the context of string theory) present an interesting interpretative challenge. As a result of consistency conditions on the algebra of the supersymmetry (SUSY) generators, one is led to the idea that SUSY, although traditionally defined as a dynamical symmetry between bosons and fermions, could also be thought of as a spacetime symmetry in some extended spacetime, known as superspace. This paper focuses on what it would take to argue for an interpretation that favours the superspace formulation. I introduce a toy model of a supersymmetric field theory and argue for a special case of a more general thesis—that one needs some pre-existing philosophical commitment to favour one mathematical formulation over another. I then consider some extant positions from the literature on the philosophy of spacetime as candidates for such a position in the context of supersymmetric theories.