Principles in Physics

March 27, 2023 - March 29, 2023
University of Wuppertal


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Scientific principles have played a central role in physics. The principle of relativity, the equivalence principle, the gauge principle, and the correspondence principle, to name a few, form the basis of our best current theories of nature.  On the other hand, the apparent failure of the naturalness principle has sparked a crisis about the future direction of particle physics. From a philosophical point of view, however, physical principles remain undertheorized. Can the much more elaborate philosophical debates about the nature of laws and symmetries also be transferred over to principles, or do principles raise novel metaphysical issues? What methodological role have principles played in the historical development of physics and what can be learnt for contemporary practice? The aim of this workshop is to bring together philosophers, historians and physicists to discuss these and related issues, and to try to initiate a debate about principles in physics.

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