Symmetries in physics: philosophical reflections

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Brading, Katherine A.; Castellani, Elena
preprint description
This is the table of contents and first chapter of "Symmetries in physics: philosophical reflections", edited by Katherine Brading and Elena Castellani, Cambridge University Press, 2003. As the organisers of the philosophy of physics workshop on symmetries held in Oxford in January 2001, we decided to bring together in one book the current philosophical discussions of symmetry in physics. Symmetry considerations dominate modern fundamental physics, both in quantum theory and in relativity. Philosophers are now beginning to devote increasing attention to such issues as the significance of gauge symmetry, the role of symmetry-breaking, the empirical status of symmetry principles, and so forth. These issues relate directly to traditional problems in the philosophy of science, including the status of the laws of nature, the relationships between mathematics, physical theory, and the world, and the extent to which mathematics dictates physics.