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Fundamentality, Scale, and the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect

Journal Article


Abstract


  • We examine arguments for distinguishing between ontological and epistemological concepts of fundamentality, focusing in particular on the role that scale plays in these concepts. Using the fractional quantum Hall effect as a case study, we show that we can draw a distinction between ontologically fundamental and non-fundamental theories without insisting that it is only the fundamental theories that get the ontology right: there are cases where non-fundamental theories involve distinct ontologies that better characterize real systems than fundamental ones do. In order to reconcile these distinct ontologies between fundamental and non-fundamental theories, we suggest that ontology must be understood as scale-dependent.

Publication Date


  • 2021

Citation


  • Shech, E., & McGivern, P. (2021). Fundamentality, Scale, and the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect. Erkenntnis, 86(6), 1411-1430. doi:10.1007/s10670-019-00161-y

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85074443790

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 1411

End Page


  • 1430

Volume


  • 86

Issue


  • 6

Abstract


  • We examine arguments for distinguishing between ontological and epistemological concepts of fundamentality, focusing in particular on the role that scale plays in these concepts. Using the fractional quantum Hall effect as a case study, we show that we can draw a distinction between ontologically fundamental and non-fundamental theories without insisting that it is only the fundamental theories that get the ontology right: there are cases where non-fundamental theories involve distinct ontologies that better characterize real systems than fundamental ones do. In order to reconcile these distinct ontologies between fundamental and non-fundamental theories, we suggest that ontology must be understood as scale-dependent.

Publication Date


  • 2021

Citation


  • Shech, E., & McGivern, P. (2021). Fundamentality, Scale, and the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect. Erkenntnis, 86(6), 1411-1430. doi:10.1007/s10670-019-00161-y

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85074443790

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 1411

End Page


  • 1430

Volume


  • 86

Issue


  • 6