Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Quine’s holism and holism in quantum physics are usually considered to be two different issues which merely have the name “holism” in common. My aim, by contrast, is to build a bridge between these two sorts of holism. This paper is an argument for three theses: 1) The discussion on holism and other options in the interpretation of quantum physics is one paradigmatic example of Quine’s confirmation holism in the philosophy of physics. In particular, taking Quine’s holism into account puts the claim of experimental metaphysics in the interpretation of quantum physics into perspective. 2) Quine’s criterion for changes to our system of knowledge enables a rational evaluation of the options in the interpretation of quantum theory. In particular, this criterion supports the option for quantum holism. 3) The meaning of “holism” in Quine’s thesis about statements and the meaning of “holism” in what quantum theory says about physical systems exhibit a far-reaching analogy. According to Quine’s seminal paper “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” (first published as Quine (1951)), four features are central to his holism:  a) There is no separation between science and philosophy in the sense of metaphysics. b) Experience confirms or disconfirms a scientific hypothesis only together with a cluster of background assumptions that finally encompass the whole of science. c) We always have a number of options to adapt our system of knowledge to new experience. It is rational to endorse that option which implies the lest overall change to the system as a whole. d) Only a cluster of statements and ultimately only the whole of science has meaning. My argument for my first thesis is that a) and b) can be applied to the interpretation of quantum physics. I argue for my second thesis by claiming that c) supports the option for quantum holism. To make a case for my third thesis, I compare the characterization of science which b) and d) imply with the characterization of nature at the microphysical level that quantum theory implies according to the option for quantum holism. To begin with, I briefly recall Quine’s confirmation holism (section 2)..|
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