Can the Decoherence Approach Help to Solve the Measurement Problem?

Synthese 113 (3):323 - 346 (1997)
This work examines whether the environmentally-induced decoherence approach in quantum mechanics brings us any closer to solving the measurement problem, and whether it contributes to the elimination of subjectivism in quantum theory. A distinction is made between 'collapse' and 'decoherence', so that an explanation for decoherence does not imply an explanation for collapse. After an overview of the measurement problem and of the open-systems paradigm, we argue that taking a partial trace is equivalent to applying the projection postulate. A criticism of Zurek's decoherence approach to measurements is also made, based on the restriction that he must impose on the interaction between apparatus and environment. We then analyze the element of subjectivity involved in establishing the boundary between system and environment, and criticize the incorporation of Everett's branching of memory records into the decoherence research program. Sticking to this program, we end by sketching a proposal for 'environmentally-induced collapse'.
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Andrew Elby (1994). The 'Decoherence' Approach to the Measurement Problem in Quantum Mechanics. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:355 - 365.
L. S. (2003). Why Decoherence has Not Solved the Measurement Problem: A Response to P.W. Anderson. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 34 (1):135-142.
Guido Bacciagaluppi & Meir Hemmo (1994). Making Sense of Approximate Decoherence. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:345 - 354.

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