Symmetries and the Identity of Physical States

Conference paper
Part of the European Studies in Philosophy of Science book series (ESPS, volume 5)


The paper proposes a combined account of identity for physical states and direct empirical significance for symmetries according to which symmetry-related state variables designate distinct physical states if and only if the symmetry that relates them has direct empirical significance. Strengthening an earlier result, I show that, given this combined account, the local gauge symmetries in our leading contemporary theories of particle physics do not have any direct empirical significance.


Symmetries Identity Empirical significance Gauge theories 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University College GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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