A philosophical look at the Higgs mechanism
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On the occasion of the recent experimental detection of a Higgs-type particle at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the paper reviews philosophical aspects of the Higgs mechanism as the presently preferred account of the generation of particle masses in the Standard Model of elementary particle physics and its most discussed extensions. The paper serves a twofold purpose: on the one hand, it offers an introduction to the Higgs mechanism and its most interesting philosophical aspects to readers not familiar with it; on the other hand, it clarifies widespread misunderstandings related to the role of gauge symmetries and their breaking in it.