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Causal Structures in Quantum Field Theory

Sprickerhof, Jakob (2015) Causal Structures in Quantum Field Theory. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In this dissertation, I will argue that quantum field theory can be interpreted as a description of causal interactions. I will first discuss previous theories of physical causation, and come to the conclusion that they are inapplicable in quantum field theory. As a consequence, I will start to develop a new theory of causation by first analysing the concept ‘causation’ into the most basic and widely shared intuitions, in order to find out later whether these intuitions can be reduced to physics. I will then have a closer look on the intuition that causation is a directed relation, which is commonly regarded as incompatible with the symmetries of physics. I will present a new argument to the effect that causation and quantum field theory are compatible with respect to the directionality of causation. After that, I will analyse the theoretical description of interactions in quantum field theory, and in particular group structure, locality and local conservation laws will crystallise as the central concepts that a causal interpretation might be based on. Subsequently, I will discuss and present replies to what I believe are the most relevant objections to a causal interpretation of physics, namely, Haag’s theorem, the measurement problem and entanglement. In the final chapter of this dissertation, I will conjoin the results of the previous chapters to a new theory of causation for quantum field theory. The main result will be that a causal process is a quantum field theoretical interaction, i.e., the exchange of energy from an initial to a final state via a force.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Causation Physics Quantum
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds) > Division of the History and Philosophy of Science (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.674990
Depositing User: Jakob Sprickerhof
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2015 09:23
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2016 15:43
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10658

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