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Dewar, Neil (November 2015): Symmetries and the philosophy of language. In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Vol. 52: 317 - 327 [PDF, 184kB]

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In this paper, I consider the role of exact symmetries in theories of physics, working throughout with the example of gravitation set in Newtonian spacetime. First, I spend some time setting up a means of thinking about symmetries in this context; second, I consider arguments from the seeming undetectability of absolute velocities to an anti-realism about velocities; and finally, I claim that the structure of the theory licences (and perhaps requires) us to interpret models which differ only with regards to the absolute velocities of objects as depicting the same physical state of affairs. In defending this last claim, I consider how ideas and resources from the philosophy of language may usefully be brought to bear on this topic.

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