Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Field Theory

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2004-03-25
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Quantum field theory is a powerful language for the description of the subatomic constituents of the physical world and the laws and principles that govern them. This book contains up-to-date in-depth analyses, by a group of eminent physicists and philosophers of science, of our present understanding of its conceptual foundations, of the reasons why this understanding has to be revised so that the theory can go further, and of possible directions in which revisions may be promising and productive. These analyses will be of interest to graduate students and research workers in physics who want to know about the foundational problems of their subject. The book will also be of interest to professional philosophers, historians and sociologists of science, because it contains much material for metaphysical and methodological reflections, for historical and cultural analyses, and for sociological analyses of the way in which various factors contribute to the way the foundations are revised.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Conceptual issues in quantum field theory
Part I. Philosophers' Interests in Quantum Field Theory: 1. Why are we philosophers interested in quantum field theory
2. Quantum field theory and the philosopher
Part II. Three Approaches to the Foundations of Quantum Field Theory: 3. The usefulness of a general theory of quantized fields
4. Effective field theory in condensed matter physics
5. The triumph and limitations of quantum field theory
Part III. Does Quantum Field Theory Need a Foundation: 7. Does quantum field theory need a foundation?
Part IV. Mathematics, Statistical Mechanics and Quantum Field Theory: 8. Renormalization group theory: its basis and formulation in statistical physics
9. Where does quantum field theory fit into the big picture?
10. The unreasonable effectiveness of quantum field theory
11. Comment: the quantum field theory of physics and of mathematics
Part V. Quantum Field Theory and Spacetime: Introduction
12. Quantum field theory and spacetime: formalism and reality
13. Quantum field theory of geometry
14. 'Localization' in quantum field theory: how much of QFT is compatible with what we know about spacetime
VI. 16. What is quantum field theory and what did we think it was?
Part VII.Renormalization Group: 18. What is fundamental physics? A renormalization group perspective
19. Renormalization group: an interesting yet puzzling idea
Part VIII. Non-Abelian Gauge Theory: 20. Gauge fields, gravity and Bohm's theory
21. Is the Aharonov-Bohm effect local?
Part IX. The Ontology of Particles or Fields: 22. The ineliminable classical face of quantum field theory
23. The logic of quanta
24. Do Feynman diagrams endorse a particle ontology?
25. On the ontology of QFT
Part X. Panel Discussion.

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