The aim of the paper is to discuss the alleged representational role of Feynman diagrams (FDs) in the context of quantum field theory and in particular in quantum electrodynamics. Physicists working in particle physics use FDs to calculate the outcomes of interactions between particles. However, it is still debated whether FDs are only a convenient tool to help the calculations or have instead a representational role of some kind. In the latter hypothesis, one could claim, for example, that they are pictorial representations of physical processes involving interactions between charged particles.1 The problem with this claim is that in the context of quantum field theory and quantum electrodynamics, FDs seem to play only an algorithmic role. More precisely, that there is a sense in which FDs help to visualize what is going on during an interaction between charged particles, we claim that they do so only in a heuristic...
The Nature of Representation in Feynman Diagrams
We are indebted to the anonymous referee for help in clarifying our thoughts. We also gratefully thank David Atkinson for his encouragement and for having carefully read a previous version of this paper. We are also truly indebted to Letitia Meynell for her careful reading of a previous draft, which prevented some misunderstandings of her 2008 paper (Meynell 2008). The fact that we did not endorse all of her suggestions may be at our own peril.
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Mauro Dorato, Emanuele Rossanese; The Nature of Representation in Feynman Diagrams. Perspectives on Science 2018; 26 (4): 443–458. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/posc_a_00282
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