Elena Castellani (U. de Florence) : "Physical symmetries: an historical-epistemological survey"
Considerations based on the group theoretical notion of symmetry dominate modern physics, at all scales of the physical description. This a well known fact and current textbooks typically devote a significant part to explaining how symmetries work in physical theories and their various and far-reaching implications. Correspondingly, the role and meaning of physical symmetries have become much debated issues in the philosophy of science community. The talk aims at giving a survey of this debate's main points and arguments, highlighting how the issues discussed also relate to more traditional problems in the philosophy of science, such as the status of the laws of nature and, more generally, the relationships between mathematics, physical theory and the world. To lend some depth to the survey, the talk begins with some historical remarks, including a brief description of the historical roots and emergence of the concept of symmetry at work in modern physics