(2017) Synthese 194 (2).

The variety of explanations in the Higgs sector

Michael Stöltzner

pp. 433-460

This paper argues that there is no single universal conception of scientific explanation that is consistently employed throughout the whole domain of Higgs physics—ranging from the successful experimental search for a standard model (SM) Higgs particle and the hitherto unsuccessful searches for any particles beyond the standard model (BSM), to phenomenological model builders in the Higgs sector and theoretical physicists interested in how the core principles of quantum field theory apply to spontaneous symmetry breaking and the Higgs mechanism. Yet the coexistence of deductive-statistical, unificationist, model-based, and statistical-relevance explanations does not amount to a fragmentation of the discipline, but allows elementary particle physicists to simultaneously pursue a plurality of research strategies and keep the field together by joint convictions about the SM and shared explanatory ideals. These convictions include that the SM both represents a successful explanation of the available particle data and contains aspects in need of further explanation. Especially in the domain of BSM physics, explanatory ideals typically appear as stories (in Hartmann’s sense) motivating the different models and linking them to the whole of the discipline.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11229-016-1112-2

Full citation:

Stöltzner, M. (2017). The variety of explanations in the Higgs sector. Synthese 194 (2), pp. 433-460.

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