Philosophical perspectives on ad hoc hypotheses and the Higgs mechanism
- 307 Downloads
We examine physicists’ charge of ad hocness against the Higgs mechanism in the standard model of elementary particle physics. We argue that even though this charge never rested on a clear-cut and well-entrenched definition of “ad hoc”, it is based on conceptual and methodological assumptions and principles that are well-founded elements of the scientific practice of high-energy particle physics. We further evaluate the implications of the recent discovery of a Higgs-like particle at the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider for the charge of ad hocness against the Higgs mechanism.
KeywordsAd hoc hypothesis Higgs mechanism Particle physics Spontaneous symmetry braking Fine-tuning Naturalness
This research is part of the project “An Ontological and Epistemological Analysis of the Higgs-mechanism,” funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, contract HA 2990/4-1), within the research collaboration “The Epistemology of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)” at the University of Wuppertal: http://www.lhc-epistemologie.uni-wuppertal.de. The authors would like to thank two anonymous referees, as well as audiences at conferences and seminars in Ankara, Dresden, Tel Aviv and Wuppertal, for thoughtful comments and suggestions.
- ATLAS Collaboration. (2012). Observation of a new particle in the search for the Standard Model Higgs boson with the ATLAS detector at the LHC. Physics Letters B, 716, 1–29.Google Scholar
- ATLAS Collaboration. (2013). Evidence for the spin-0 nature of the Higgs boson using ATLAS data. Physics Letters B, 726, 120–144.Google Scholar
- CMS Collaboration. (2012). Observation of a new boson at a mass of 125 GeV with the CMS experiment at the LHC. Physics Letters B, 716, 30–61.Google Scholar
- CMS Collaboration. (2013). Properties of the observed Higgs-like resonance using the diphoton channel. CERN report number: CMS-PAS-HIG-13-016.Google Scholar
- Feng, J. L. (2013) Naturalness and the status of supersymmetry. Forthcoming in annual review of nuclear and particle science. http://arxiv.org/abs/1302.6587.
- Friederich, S. (2013). Gauge symmetry breaking in gauge theories—In search of clarification. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 3, 157–182.Google Scholar
- Giudice, G. F. (2010). A zeptospace odyssey—A journey into the physics of the LHC. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Glashow, S. L. (1961). Partial-symmetries of weak interactions. Nuclear Physics, 22, 579–588.Google Scholar
- Karaca, K. (2010). Historical and conceptual foundations of the higher dimensional unification program in physics. Dissertation, submitted in May 2010 at Indiana University.Google Scholar
- Krämer, M. (2013). “The landscape of new physics”, blog entry. Retrieved on February 17, 2014, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/life-and-physics/2013/jan/09/physics-particlephysics.
- LEP Working Group for Higgs Boson Searches. (2003). Search for the standard model Higgs boson at LEP. Physics Letters B, 565, 61–75.Google Scholar
- LHC Higgs Cross Section Working Group Collaboration. (2011). Handbook of LHC Higgs cross sections: 1. Inclusive observables. http://arxiv.org/abs/arXiv:1101.0593.
- Peskin, M. E. (2012). Theoretical summary lecture for Higgs hunting 2012. SLAC-PUB-15224. http://arxiv.org/abs/arXiv:1208.5152v2.
- Popper, K. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
- Popper, K. (1974). Replies to my critics. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), The philosophy of Karl Popper (pp. 961–1197). Library of Living Philosophers, Open Court, La Salle.Google Scholar
- Quigg, C. (2007). Spontaneous symmetry breaking as a basis of particle mass. Reports on Progress in Physics, 70, 1019–1053.Google Scholar
- Schumm, B. A. (2004). Deep down things: The breathtaking beauty of particle physics. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- Slavnov, A. A. (1979). Application of path integrals to non-perturbative study of massive Yang-Mills theory. In S. Albeverio, Ph. Combe, R. Høegh-Krohn, G. Rideau, M. Siruge-Collin, M. Siruge, & R. Stora (Eds.), Feynman path integrals (pp. 289–303). Lecture Notes in Physics 106, Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
- Smeenk, C. (2006). The elusive Higgs mechanism. Philosophy of Science, 73, 487–499.Google Scholar
- Smolin, L. (1997). The life of the cosmos. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar