Two Cheers for Effective Theories and Selective Realism (séminaire Larsim) le 28 mai 2019
Sébastien Rivat (Columbia University)
Tue, May. 28th, 2019 10:30
Bât 703, salle 135
Effective Field Theory (EFT) methods have become increasingly popular in physics since the 1980s. The Standard Model of particle physics and General Relativity are now widely believed to be best understood and formulated as EFTs; and, in recent years, EFT methods have found many successful applications outside of the strict framework of Quantum Field Theory in areas as varied as fluid dynamics and post-Newtonian gravitation. Despite this growing success, most of the philosophical discussions on effective theories have been restricted to high-energy physics. The goal of this talk is to make a small step towards a broader appreciation of the philosophical impact of the framework of effective theories. I will first discuss several options for characterizing what makes the structure of effective theories so distinctive across different theoretical contexts in physics, and argue that their structure is best characterized in terms of mathematically built-in empirical limits. I will then rely on this characterization to draw some lessons for the debate over scientific realism in the recent philosophical literature, i.e., broadly speaking, the debate as to whether our best theories make approximately true descriptions of the world or merely reduce to instruments for predicting observable phenomena and systematizing observation reports.
4039 (4 Ko)