Philosophy of Physics Graduate Lunch Seminar (Friday - Week 3, HT21)

philosophy of physics grad lunch seminar

R. J. Boscovich (1711-1787) is an early modern physicist, known for his 'unified theory of everything' based on the idea of dimensionless point-particles. In my talk I wish to focus on Boscovich's epistemological remarks on symmetry, specifically – on his inclusion of rescaling among the better-known Galilean dynamical symmetries of Newtonian physics. I wish to offer an explicit quantitative identification of the transformation he had in mind, showing that it involves the variation of structural parameters as well as time-dependent dynamical variables. It will be argued that Boscovich's view of perception, space and metaphysical possibility, indicated in various places in his Theoria, are all essential parts of his peculiar concept of symmetry.

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