Perfect symmetries

Richard Healey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


While empirical symmetries relate situations, theoretical symmetries relate models of a theory we use to represent them. An empirical symmetry is perfect if and only if any two situations it relates share all intrinsic properties. Sometimes one can use a theory to explain an empirical symmetry by showing how it follows from a corresponding theoretical symmetry. The theory then reveals a perfect symmetry. I say what this involves and why it matters, beginning with a puzzle that is resolved by the subsequent analysis. I conclude by pointing to applications and implications of the ideas developed earlier in the paper. 1 Introduction 2 Is Faraday in the Same Boat as Galileo 3 Empirical Symmetries 4 Theoretical Symmetries 5 Explaining Empirical SymmetriesConclusion 6 Appendix A 7 Appendix B.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-720
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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