Subsystems and Independence in Relativistic Microscopic Physics

Summers, Stephen J.
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The analyzability of the universe into subsystems requires a concept of the "independence" of the subsystems, of which the relativistic quantum world supports many distinct notions which either coincide or are trivial in the classical setting. The multitude of such notions and the complex relations between them will only be adumbrated here. The emphasis of the discussion is placed upon the warrant for and the consequences of a particular notion of subsystem independence, which, it is proposed, should be viewed as primary and, it is argued, provides a reasonable framework within which to sensibly speak of relativistic quantum subsystems.
Comment: This is an expanded version of an invited talk given at the biennial meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, held in Pittsburgh, PA, on November 6-9, 2008 ; some clarifications added and typos removed ; to appear in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Quantum Physics, Mathematical Physics