Feynman's Diagrams, Pictorial Representations and Styles of Scientific Thinking

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Dorato, Mauro; Rossanese, Emanuele
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In this paper we argue that the different positions taken by Dyson and Feynman on Feynman diagrams’ representational role depend on their different styles of scientific thinking. We begin by criticizing the idea that Feynman Diagrams can be considered to be pictures or depictions of actual physical processes. We then show that the best interpretation of the role they play in quantum field theory and quantum electrodynamics is captured by Hughes' Denotation, Deduction and Interpretation theory of models (DDI), where “models” are to be interpreted as inferential, non-representational devices constructed in given social contexts by the community of physicists.