PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Reconciling axiomatic quantum field theory with cutoff-dependent particle physics

The debate between Fraser and Wallace (2011) over the foundations of quantum field theory (QFT) has spawned increased focus on both the axiomatic and conventional formalisms. The debate has set the tone for future foundational analysis, and has forced philosophers to ``pick a side''. The two are seen as competing research programs, and the major divide between the two manifests in how each handles renormalization. In this paper I argue that the terms set by the Fraser-Wallace debate are misleading. AQFT and CQFT should be viewed as complementary formalisms that start from the same physical basis. Further, the focus on cutoffs as demarcating the two approaches is also highly misleading. Though their methods differ, both axiomatic and conventional QFT seek to use the same physical principles to explain the same domain of phenomena.

Author Information:

Adam Koberinski    
Western University


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