How Quantum Theory Helps Us Explain

I offer an account of how the quantum theory we have helps us explain so much. The account depends on a pragmatist interpretation of the theory: this takes a quantum state to serve as a source of sound advice to physically situated agents on the content and appropriate degree of belief about matters concerning which they are currently inevitably ignorant. The general account of how to use quantum states and probabilities to explain otherwise puzzling regularities is then illustrated by showing how we can explain single-particle interference phenomena, the stability of matter, and interference of Bose–Einstein condensates. Finally, I note some open problems and relate this account to alternative approaches to explanation that emphasize the importance of causation, of unification, and of structure. 1 Introduction2 Two Requirements on Explanations in Physics3 What We Can use Quantum Theory to Explain4 The Function of Quantum States and Born Probabilities5 How These Functions Contribute to the Explanatory Task6 Example One: Single-Particle Interference7 Example Two: Explanation of the Stability of Matter8 Example Three: Bose Condensation9 Conclusion
Keywords quantum theory  scientific explanation  pragmatist interpretation
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Reprint years 2015
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axt031
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References found in this work BETA
Richard Healey (2012). Quantum Theory: A Pragmatist Approach. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (4):729-771.

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Citations of this work BETA
Andrew Wayne (2015). Causal Relations and Explanatory Strategies in Physics. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (1):75-89.
Richard A. Healey (2014). Causality and Chance in Relativistic Quantum Field Theories. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 48:156-167.

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Richard Healey (2012). Quantum Theory: A Pragmatist Approach. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (4):729-771.
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