Symmetry, empirical equivalence, and identity

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Friederich, Simon
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preprint description
The paper proposes a novel approach to the much discussed question of which symmetries have direct empirical significance and which do not. The approach is based on a development of a recently proposed framework by Hilary Greaves and David Wallace, who claim that, contrary to the standard folklore among philosophers of physics, local symmetries may have direct empirical significance no less than global ones. Partly vindicating the standard folklore, a result is derived here from a number of quite plausible assumptions, which states that local symmetries can indeed have no direct empirical significance. Ways to interpret the result are considered and possible morals are outlined.