Symmetry, Structure, and Spacetime

Symmetry, Structure, and Spacetime

1st Edition - October 5, 2007

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  • Author: Dean Rickles
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080552064
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444531162

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In this book Rickles considers several interpretative difficulties raised by gauge-type symmetries (those that correspond to no change in physical state). The ubiquity of such symmetries in modern physics renders them an urgent topic in philosophy of physics. Rickles focuses on spacetime physics, and in particular classical and quantum general relativity. Here the problems posed are at their most pathological, involving the apparent disappearance of spacetime! Rickles argues that both traditional ontological positions should be replaced by a structuralist account according to which relational structure is what the physics is about.

Key Features

· Unified treatment of gauge symmetries and their relationship to ontology in physics
· Brings philosophy of space and time into step with developments in modern physics
· Argues against the received view on the implications of symmetries in physics
· Provides elementary treatments of technical issues
· Illustrates a novel defense of structuralism


History and Philosophy of Science, Foundations of Physics, Philosophy, Physics

Table of Contents

  • 1 Interpretation and Formalism
    2 Space and Time in the Leibniz-Clarke Debate
    3 The Interpretation of Gauge Symmetries
    4 Spacetime in General Relativity
    5 Responding to the Hole Problem
    6 What is an Observable In General Relativity?
    7 Time, Change, and Gauge
    8 Symmetry and Ontology
    9 Structuralism and Symmetry

Product details

  • No. of pages: 242
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier Science 2007
  • Published: October 5, 2007
  • Imprint: Elsevier Science
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080552064
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444531162

About the Author

Dean Rickles

Dean Rickles's main research interests lie in the general area of philosophy of physics, especially quantum gravity. He recently coedited a book on The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity (Oxford University Press, 2006) and has a forthcoming edited philosophy of physics textbook: The Ashgate Companion to the New Philosophy of Physics (Ashgate, 2008).

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Sydney, Australia

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