Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Zoom Talk: Florian Boge (Wuppertal) and John Dougherty (MCMP)

Meeting-ID: 9443 3194 088

23.06.2021 16:00  – 18:00 

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Florian Boge: Why trust a simulation? Models, parameters, and robustness in simulation-infected experiments

Abstract: Computer simulations are nowadays often directly involved in the generation of experimental results. Given this dependency of experiments on computer simulations, that of simulations on models, and that of the models on free parameters, how do researchers establish trust in their experimental results? Using high energy physics (HEP) as a case study, I will identify three different types of robustness that I call conceptual, methodological, and parametric robustness, and show
how they can sanction this trust. However, as I will also show, simulation models in HEP themselves fail to exhibit a type of robustness I call inverse parametric robustness. This combination of robustness and failures thereof is best understood by
differentiating different epistemic capacities of simulations and different senses of trust: Trusting simulations in their capacity to facilitate credible experimental results can mean accepting them as means for generating belief in these results, while this need not imply believing the models themselves in their capacity to represent an underlying reality.

John Dougherty: Gauge theories from an effective perspective

Abstract: I argue that supporters of the effective field theory approach to interpreting relativistic quantum theories have reason to adopt a philosophically revisionary interpretation of gauge theories. Recently, conventional quantum field theory has been brought to bear on general philosophical issues such as scientific realism, emergence and reduction, and fundamentality, as well as more specific questions internal to philosophy of physics. Key to these applications has been the interpretation of quantum field theories as effective theories: explicitly relativized to a particular length scale and agnostic toward any shorter scales. However, this interpretation faces well-known problems when applied to gauge theories, such as the theories appearing in the Standard Model of particle physics. The standard philosophical view on gauge theories sees them as featuring inessential descriptive “fluff” that obstructs the interpretation of an effective quantum gauge theory as scale-relative. I argue that this obstacle can be naturally avoided by an (independently motivated) alternative interpretation of gauge theories, which does not impute to them extra fluff.