Mirror Symmetry and Other Miracles in Superstring Theory

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Rickles, Dean
preprint description
The dominance of string theory in the research landscape of quantum gravity physics (despite any direct experimental evidence) can, I think, be justified in a variety of ways. Here I focus on an argument from mathematical fertility, broadly similar to Hilary Putnam’s ‘no miracles argument’ that, I argue, many string theorists in fact espouse. String theory leads to many surprising, useful, and well-confirmed mathematical ‘predictions’—here I focus on mirror symmetry. These predictions are made on the basis of general physical principles entering into string theory. The success of the mathematical predictions are then seen as evidence for framework that generated them. I attempt to defend this argument, but there are nonetheless some serious objections to be faced. These objections can only be evaded at a high (philosophical) price.