What is the status of the critique of Mathias Frisch's on the consistency of Classical Electrodynamics?

And what exactly is his claim in succinct answer? Thanks!

  • Do you have a reference to Frisch's view? – Frank Hubeny Aug 4 '19 at 19:04
  • It seems to be in his book: amazon.com/… I haven't read it yet, I just want to hear someone who has read it what does he argue? – MathematicalPhysicist Aug 4 '19 at 19:22
  • Vickers, P. (2008). Frisch, Muller, and Belot on an Inconsistency in Classical Electrodynamics. The British J. for the Phphy of Sci. 59(4), 767–792. Technical but readable;as seen onPhilPapers or scholargoogle MF seems to be worthy of (more) attention. – sand1 Aug 4 '19 at 21:00
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    You can download a pdf of Vickers analysis of Frisch's claims on Cornell's arXiv site. It provides considerable detail of Frisch's claims and the counter arguments of Muller and Belot. – Nick Aug 4 '19 at 23:05

Frisch's Inconsistency, Asymmetry, and Non-Locality: A Philosophical Investigation of Classical Electrodynamics pt. 1, ch. 2, §3 "The Inconsistency Proof" appears to amount to a criticism of the field concept (pp. 32-3):

The Maxwell–Lorentz equations allow us to treat two types of problems (see Jackson 1975, 1999). We can use the Maxwell equations to determine the fields associated with a given charge and current distribution, or we can use the Lorentz force law to calculate the motion of a charged particle in a given external electromagnetic field. In problems of the first type, the charges and currents are specified and, given particular initial and boundary conditions (which specify the source-free fields), the total electromagnetic field is calculated. In problems of the second type, the external electromagnetic fields are specified and the motions of charged particles or currents are calculated. Electric charges are treated either as being affected by fields or as sources of fields, but not both. That is, in both types of problems one ignores any effects that the field associated with a charge itself—the self-field—might have on the motion of that charge.

(I'm surprised Frisch doesn't mention Ampère's or Weber's instantaneous action-at-a-distance force laws.)

See §3.1 "Multiple Definitions of the Field Concept" and §3.2 "These Different Field Definitions Contradict One Another" of

Assis, like Ampère would have,* considers the field concept useless "epicycles" or scaffoldings of the physical theory.
*cf. Ampère, Assis, & Chaib 2015 §16.5 "'Ampère' Against the Field Concept", pp. 234-5

I like how Frisch (p. 36) quotes Duhem's Aim & Structure of Physical Theory p. 220 regarding how a physical theory must "aim to preserve with jealous care a logical unity", but Frisch should've also cited ibid. ch. 4 "Abstract Theories & Mechanical Models", §10 "Should the Use of Mechanical Models [e.g., fields] Suppress the Search for an Abstract and Logically Ordered Theory?".

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