Predictions and Primitive Ontology in Quantum Foundations: A Study of Examples

Abstract
A major disagreement between different views about the foundations of quantum mechanics concerns whether for a theory to be intelligible as a fundamental physical theory it must involve a ‘primitive ontology’ (PO), i.e. variables describing the distribution of matter in four-dimensional space–time. In this article, we illustrate the value of having a PO. We do so by focussing on the role that the PO plays for extracting predictions from a given theory and discuss valid and invalid derivations of predictions. To this end, we investigate a number of examples based on toy models built from the elements of familiar interpretations of quantum theory.11 Introduction2 The GRWm and GRWf Theories2.1 The GRW process2.2 GRWm2.3 GRWf3 Predictions and Primitive Ontology3.1 Calibration functions3.2 Taking the PO seriously3.3 Examples from the literature3.4 The main theorem about operators in the GRW formalism3.5 The GRW formalism4 A Set of Examples4.1 Bohmian mechanics4.2 Bohmian trajectories and GRW collapses4.2.1 Bohm’s law and GRW’s law4.2.2 Bohm’s law and a modified GRW law4.2.3 Trajectories from the GRW wave function4.2.4 Configuration jumps and GRW law4.2.5 Another way of configuration jumps and GRW law4.3 MBM: Bohm-like trajectories from the master equation4.3.1 Empirical equivalence of MBM with GRWm and GRWf4.4 Master equation and matter density4.5 Master equation and flashes5 Conclusions
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