Uniform TitleFundamental physical theories: mathematical structures grounded on a primitive ontology
NameAllori, Valia (author), Maudlin, Tim (chair), Arntzenius, Frank (internal member), Loewer, Barry (internal member), Goldstein, Sheldon (internal member), Albert, David (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionIn my dissertation I analyze the structure of fundamental physical theories. I start with an analysis of what an adequate primitive ontology is, discussing the measurement problem in quantum mechanics and theirs solutions. It is commonly said that these theories have little in common. I argue instead that the moral of the measurement problem is that the wave function cannot represent physical objects and a common structure between these solutions
can be recognized: each of them is about a clear three-dimensional primitive ontology that evolves according to a law determined by the wave function. The primitive ontology is what matter is made of while the wave function tells the matter how to move. One might think that what is important in the notion of primitive ontology is their three-dimensionality. If so, in a theory like classical electrodynamics electromagnetic fields would be part of the primitive ontology.
I argue that, reflecting on what the purpose of a fundamental physical theory is, namely to explain the behavior of objects in three--dimensional space, one can recognize that a fundamental physical theory has a particular architecture. If so, electromagnetic fields play a different role in the theory than the particles and therefore should be considered, like the wave function, as part of the law.
Therefore, we can characterize the general structure of a fundamental physical theory as a mathematical structure grounded on a primitive ontology.
I explore this idea to better understand theories like classical mechanics and relativity, emphasizing that primitive ontology is crucial in the process of building new theories, being fundamental in identifying the symmetries.
Finally, I analyze what it means to explain the word around us in terms of the notion of primitive ontology in the case of regularities of statistical character. Here is where the notion of typicality comes into play: we have explained a phenomenon if the typical histories of the primitive ontology give rise to the statistical regularities we observe.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 177-186).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.