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Objectivity, Invariance, and Convention: Symmetry in Physical Science

Debs, Talal A.; Redhead, Michael L. G.

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ISBN 10: 067402298X / ISBN 13: 9780674022980
Published by Harvard University Press, 2007
Used Condition: Used: Very Good Hardcover
From Griffin Books (Stamford, CT, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Objectivity, Invariance, and Convention: ...

Publisher: Harvard University Press

Publication Date: 2007

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Used: Very Good

About this title

Synopsis:

Most observers agree that modern physical theory attempts to provide objective representations of reality. However, the claim that these representations are based on conventional choices is viewed by many as a denial of their objectivity. As a result, objectivity and conventionality in representation are often framed as polar opposites.

Offering a new appraisal of symmetry in modern physics, employing detailed case studies from relativity theory and quantum mechanics, Objectivity, Invariance, and Convention contends that the physical sciences, though dependent on convention, may produce objective representations of reality. Talal Debs and Michael Redhead show that both realists and constructivists have recognized important elements of an understanding of science that may not be contradictory.

The position--"perspectival invariantism"-- introduced in this book highlights the shortcomings of existing approaches to symmetry in physics, and, for the constructivist, demonstrates that a dependence on conventions in representation reaches into the domain of the most technical sciences. For the realist, it stands as evidence against the claim that conventionality must undermine objectivity. We can be committed to the existence of a single real ontology while maintaining a cultural view of science.

About the Author:

Talal A. Debs is Research Associate at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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