A fully micro realistic, propensity version of quantumtheory is proposed, according to which fundamental physical entities - neither particles nor fields - have physical characteristics which determine probabilistically how they interact with one another (rather than with measuring instruments). The version of quantum "smearon" theory proposed here does not modify the equations of orthodox quantumtheory: rather, it gives a radically new interpretation to these equations. It is argued that (i) there (...) are strong general reasons for preferring quantum "smearon" theory to orthodox quantumtheory; (ii) the proposed change in physical interpretation leads quantum "smearon" theory to make experimental predictions subtly different from those of orthodox quantumtheory. Some possible crucial experiments are considered. (shrink)
In this paper I put forward a new micro realistic, fundamentally probabilistic, propensiton version of quantumtheory. According to this theory, the entities of the quantum domain - electrons, photons, atoms - are neither particles nor fields, but a new kind of fundamentally probabilistic entity, the propensiton - entities which interact with one another probabilistically. This version of quantumtheory leaves the Schroedinger equation unchanged, but reinterprets it to specify how propensitons evolve (...) when no probabilistic transitions occur. Probabilisitic transitions occur when new "particles" are created as a result of inelastic interactions. All measurements are just special cases of this. This propensiton version of quantumtheory, I argue, solves the wave/particle dilemma, is free of conceptual problems that plague orthodox quantumtheory, recovers all the empirical success of orthodox quantumtheory, and at the same time yields as yet untested predictions that differ from those of orthodox quantumtheory. (shrink)
This paper investigates the possibiity of developing a fully micro realistic version of elementary quantum mechanics. I argue that it is highly desirable to develop such a version of quantum mechanics, and that the failure of all current versions and interpretations of quantum mechanics to constitute micro realistic theories is at the root of many of the interpretative problems associated with quantum mechanics, in particular the problem of measurement. I put forward a propensity micro (...) realistic version of quantum mechanics, and suggest how it might be possible to discriminate, on expermental grounds, between this theory and other versions of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
In this paper, possible objections to the propensity microrealistic version of quantum mechanics proposed in Part I are answered. This version of quantum mechanics is compared with the statistical, particle microrealistic viewpoint, and a crucial experiment is proposed designed to distinguish between these to microrealistic versions of quantum mechanics.
Because it fails to solve the wave-particle problem, orthodox quantumtheory is obliged to be about observables and not quantum beables. As a result the theory is imprecise, ambiguous, ad hoc, lacking in explanatory power, restricted in scope and resistant to unification. A new version of quantumtheory is needed that is about quantum beables.
Work on the central problems of the philosophy of science has led the author to attempt to create an intelligible version of quantumtheory. The basic idea is that probabilistic transitions occur when new stationary or particle states arise as a result of inelastic collisions.
A few years ago, I argued that according to spontaneous collapse theories of quantum mechanics, arithmetic applies to macroscopic objects only as an approximation. Several authors have written articles defending spontaneous collapse theories against this charge, including Bassi and Ghirardi, Clifton and Monton, and now Frigg. The arguments of these authors are all different and all ingenious, but in the end I think that none of them succeeds, for reasons I elaborate here. I suggest a fourth line (...) of response, based on an analogy with epistemic paradoxes, which I think is the best way to defend spontaneous collapse theories, and which leaves my main thesis intact. (shrink)
The Everett interpretation of quantumtheory requires either the existence of an infinite number of conscious minds associated with each brain or the existence of one universal consciousness. Reasons are given, and the two ideas are compared.
Quantumtheory is one the most important and successful theories of modern physical science. It has been estimated that its principles form the basis for about 30 per cent of the world's manufacturing economy. This is all the more remarkable because quantumtheory is a theory that nobody understands. The meaning of QuantumTheory introduces science students to the theory's fundamental conceptual and philosophical problems, and the basis of its non-understandability. It does (...) this with the barest minimum of jargon and very little mathematics in the main text. Readers wishing to delve more deeply into the theory's mathematical subtleties can do so in an extended series of appendices. The book brings the reader up to date with the results of new experimental tests of quantum weirdness and reviews the latest thinking on alternative interpretations, the frontiers of quantum cosmology, quantum gravity and potential application of this weirdness in computing, cryptography and teleportation. (shrink)
This conference was devoted to the 80 years of the Copenhagen Interpretation, and to the question of the relevance of the Copenhagen interpretation for the present understanding of quantum mechanics. It is in this framework that fundamental questions raised by quantum mechanics, especially in information theory, were discussed throughout the conference. As has become customary in our series of conference in Växjö, we were glad to welcome a fruitful assembly of theoretical physicists, experimentalists, mathematicians and even philosophers (...) interested in the foundations of probability and physics. The nature of quantum fluctuations---in the form of Stochastic Electrodynamics or in other approaches to stochastic quantum mechanics---was also a central topic discussed during the conference, especially during debates. We should also mention talks on the completeness or incompleteness of quantum mechanics; on macroscopic quantum systems; on Bell's inequality, entanglement and experiments on quantum nonlocality (and locality); on Bohmian mechanics; on the connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity; on quantum probability; on quantum computing, quantum teleportation and quantum cryptography technologies; and more generally on the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics and on the philosophical problems raised by its interpretations. (shrink)
This Växjö conference was devoted to the reconsideration of quantum foundations. Due to increasing research in quantum information theory, especially on quantum computing and cryptography, many questions regarding the foundations of quantum mechanics, which have long been considered to be exclusively of philosophical interest, nowadays play an important role in theoretical and experimental quantum physics.
Abstract: This paper assesses the Everettian approach to the measurement problem, especially the version of that approach advocated by Simon Saunders and David Wallace. I emphasise conceptual, indeed metaphysical, aspects rather than technical ones; but I include an introductory exposition of decoherence. In particular, I discuss whether---as these authors maintain---it is acceptable to have no precise definition of 'branch' (in the Everettian kind of sense). (A version of this paper will appear in a CTNS/Vatican Observatory volume on (...) class='Hi'>QuantumTheory and Divine Action, ed. Robert Russell et al.). (shrink)
Quantum field theory, one of the most rapidly developing areas of contemporary physics, is full of problems of great theoretical and philosophical interest. This collection of essays is the first systematic exploration of the nature and implications of quantum field theory. The contributors discuss quantum field theory from a wide variety of standpoints, exploring in detail its mathematical structure and metaphysical and methodological implications.
Confused ideas about the weirdness of quantum mechanics have sometimes been blamed for the spread of anti-realist positions in philosophy. In this seminar, I shall re-examine the relation between realism and quantumtheory. My goal is to argue that one can remain a realist in a reasonably familiar sense, while adopting a theory which amounts to a form of idealism. After sketching the abstract mathematical structure of quantumtheory, I will introduce realism and consider (...) some of its problems and some counter-arguments. Next I will look at why quantumtheory needs an interpretation and at some of the features common to many proposed interpretations. Then I will discuss some of the gaps in decoherence theory, when it is considered as an interpretation of quantumtheory, and I will end with a sketch of my own realist version of idealism in which the fundamental entities are structures which define minds, and the fundamental laws govern the stochastic developments of those structures. (shrink)
I argue that algebraic quantum field theory (AQFT) permits an undisturbed view of the right ontology for fundamental physics, whereas standard (or Lagrangian) QFT offers different mutually incompatible ontologies.My claim does not depend on the mathematical inconsistency of standard QFT but on the fact that AQFT has the same concerns as ontology, namely categorical parsimony and a clearly structured hierarchy of entities.
Everett proposed resolving the quantum measurement problem by dropping the nonlinear collapse dynamics from quantum mechanics and taking what is left as a complete physical theory. If one takes such a proposal seriously, then the question becomes how much of the predictive and explanatory power of the standard theory can one recover without the collapse postulate and without adding anything else. Quantum mechanics without the collapse postulate has several suggestive properties, which we (...) will consider in some detail. While these properties are not enough to make it acceptable given the usual standards for a satisfactory physical theory, one might want to exploit these properties to cook up a satisfactory no-collapse formulation of quantum mechanics. In considering how this might work, we will see why any no-collapsetheory must generally fail to satisfy at least one of two plausible-sounding conditions. (shrink)
The relationship between quantumcollapse and consciousness is reconsidered under the assumption that quantumcollapse is an objective dynamical process. We argue that the conscious observer can have a distinct role from the physical measuring device during the process of quantumcollapse owing to the intrinsic nature of consciousness; the conscious observer can know whether he is in a definite state or a quantum superposition of definite states, while the physical measuring device cannot (...) “know”. As a result, the consciousness observer can distinguish the definite states and their quantum superposition, while the physical measuring device without consciousness cannot do. This provides a possible quantum physical method to distinguish man and machine. The new result also implies that consciousness has causal efficacies in the physical world when considering the existence of quantumcollapse. Accordingly consciousness is not reducible or emergent, but a new fundamental property of matter. This may establish a quantum basis for panpsychism, and make it be a promising solution to the hard problem of consciousness. Furthermore, it is suggested that a unified theory of matter and consciousness includes two parts: one is the psychophysical principle or corresponding principle between conscious content and matter state, and the other is the complete quantum evolution of matter state, which includes the definite nonlinear evolution element introduced by consciousness and relating to conscious content. Lastly, some experimental schemes are presented to test the proposed quantumtheory of consciousness. (shrink)
I apply some of the lessons from quantumtheory, in particular from Bell’s theorem, to a debate on the foundations of decision theory and causation. By tracing a formal analogy between the basic assumptions of causal decision theory (CDT)—which was developed partly in response to Newcomb’s problem— and those of a local hidden variable theory in the context of quantum mechanics, I show that an agent who acts according to CDT and gives any nonzero (...) credence to some possible causal interpretations underlying quantum phenomena should bet against quantum mechanics in some feasible game scenarios involving entangled systems, no matter what evidence they acquire. As a consequence, either the most accepted version of decision theory is wrong, or it provides a practical distinction, in terms of the prescribed behaviour of rational agents, between some metaphysical hypotheses regarding the causal structure underlying quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Orthodox quantum mechanics is built upon psychophysical collapse events that are the close analogs, within contemporary physical theory, of the the Whiteheadian actual occasions, with their mental and physical poles. This article describes the way in which these events enter into quantumtheory, and mediate the emergence of actuality from potentiality.
A resolution of the quantum measurement problem would require one to explain how it is that we end up with determinate records at the end of our measurements. Metaphysical commitments typically do real work in such an explanation. Indeed, one should not be satisfied with one's metaphysical commitments unless one can provide some account of determinate measurement records. I will explain some of the problems in getting determinate records in relativistic quantum field theory and pay particular attention (...) to the relationship between the measurement problem and a generalized version of Malament's theorem. (shrink)
We prove a uniqueness theorem showing that, subject to certain natural constraints, all 'no collapse' interpretations of quantum mechanics can be uniquely characterized and reduced to the choice of a particular preferred observable as determine (definite, sharp). We show how certain versions of the modal interpretation, Bohm's 'causal' interpretation, Bohr's complementarity interpretation, and the orthodox (Dirac-von Neumann) interpretation without the projection postulate can be recovered from the theorem. Bohr's complementarity and Einstein's realism appear as two quite different proposals (...) for selecting the preferred determinate observable--either settled pragmatically by what we choose to observe, or fixed once and for all, as the Einsteinian realist would require, in which case the preferred observable is a 'beable' in Bell's sense, as in Bohm's interpretation (where the preferred observable is position in configuration space). (shrink)
Niels Bohr, founding father of modern atomic physics and quantumtheory, was as original a philosopher as he was a physicist. This study explores several dimensions of Bohr's vision: the formulation of quantumtheory and the problems associated with its interpretation, the notions of complementarity and correspondence, the debates with Einstein about objectivity and realism, and his sense of the infinite harmony of nature. Honner focuses on Bohr's epistemological lesson, the conviction that all our description of (...) nature is dependent on the words we use and the ways we can unambiguously use them. (shrink)
Recently we have given proof of two theorems characterizing the Clifford algebra. By using such two theorems we have reformulated the well known von Neumann postulate on quantum measurements giving evidence of the algebraic manner in which quantum wave function collapse of quantum mechanics happens. In the present paper we introduce logic in Clifford algebra interpreting its idempotents as logical statements. Using the previously mentioned theorems we demonstrate that the two basic foundations of quantum mechanics, (...) as the indeterminism and the quantum interference, do not arise from physics itself but from logic. We advance the principles that there are levels of our reality in which we lose our possibility of unconditionally define the truth. At this level of reality we cannot separate matter per se from the basic foundations of the logic that we use to describe it. This logical relativism does not characterize classical mechanics but quantum physics. According to Y. F. Orlov, at quantum level the truths of logical statements about dynamic variables become dynamic variables themselves. (shrink)
As previous Växjö conferences on quantum foundations, QTRF-5 was notable not only for the contributions of the papers presented there but also for its exciting debates. These debates offered a great diversity of opinions on foundations of quantum mechanics (QM) and its future developments: from those defined by the view of those who adhere to the orthodox Copenhagen interpretation (which rejected realism and causality), at one end of the spectrum, to those who subscribed to realist views of the (...) type advocated by Einstein, at the other end, with a number of views in between. (shrink)
According to orthodox quantum mechanics, state vectors change in two incompatible ways: "deterministically" in accordance with Schroedinger's time-dependent equation, and probabilistically if and only if a measurement is made. It is argued here that the problem of measurement arises because the precise mutually exclusive conditions for these two types of transitions to occur are not specified within orthodox quantum mechanics. Fundamentally, this is due to an inevitable ambiguity in the notion of "meawurement" itself. Hence, if the problem of (...) measurement is to be resolved, a new, fully objective version of quantjm mechanics needs to be developed which does not incorporate the notion of measurement in its basic postuolates at all. (shrink)
The centerpiece of Jeffrey Bub's book Interpreting the Quantum World is a theorem (Bub and Clifton 1996) which correlates each member of a large class of no-collapse interpretations with some 'privileged observable'. In particular, the Bub-Clifton theorem determines the unique maximal sublattice L(R,e) of propositions such that (a) elements of L(R,e) can be simultaneously determinate in state e, (b) L(R,e) contains the spectral projections of the privileged observable R, and (c) L(R,e) is picked out by R and e (...) alone. In this paper, we explore the issue of maximal determinate sets of observables using the tools provided by the algebraic approach to quantumtheory; and we call the resulting algebras of determinate observables, "maximal *beable* subalgebras". The capstone of our exploration is a generalized version of Bub and Clifton's theorem that applies to arbitrary (i.e., both mixed and pure) quantum states, to Hilbert spaces of arbitrary (i.e., both finite and infinite) dimension, and to arbitrary observables (including those with a continuous spectrum). Moreover, in the special case covered by the original Bub-Clifton theorem, our theorem reproduces their result under strictly weaker assumptions. This added level of generality permits us to treat several topics that were beyond the reach of the original Bub-Clifton result. In particular: (a) We show explicitly that a (non-dynamical) version of the Bohm theory can be obtained by granting privileged status to the position observable. (b) We show that Clifton's (1995) characterization of the Kochen-Dieks modal interpretation is a corollary of our theorem in the special case when the density operator is taken as the privileged observable. (c) We show that the 'uniqueness' demonstrated by Bub and Clifton is only guaranteed in certain special cases -- viz., when the quantum state is pure, or if the privileged observable is compatible with the density operator. We also use our results to articulate a solid mathematical foundation for certain tenets of the orthodox Copenhagen interpretation of quantumtheory. For example, the uncertainty principle asserts that there are strict limits on the precision with which we can know, simultaneously, the position and momentum of a quantum-mechanical particle. However, the Copenhagen interpretation of this fact is not simply that a precision momentum measurement necessarily and uncontrollably disturbs the value of position, and vice-versa; but that position and momentum can never in reality be thought of as simultaneously determinate. We provide warrant for this stronger 'indeterminacy principle' by showing that there is no quantum state that assigns a sharp value to both position and momentum; and, a fortiori, that it is mathematically impossible to construct a beable algebra that contains both the position observable and the momentum observable. We also prove a generalized version of the Bub-Clifton theorem that applies to "singular" states (i.e., states that arise from non-countably-additive probability measures, such as Dirac delta functions). This result allows us to provide a mathematically rigorous reconstruction of Bohr's response to the original EPR argument -- which makes use of a singular state. In particular, we show that if the position of the first particle is privileged (e.g., as Bohr would do in a position measuring context), the position of the second particle acquires a definite value by virtue of lying in the corresponding maximal beable subalgebra. But then (by the indeterminacy principle) the momentum of the second particle is not a beable; and EPR's argument for the simultaneous reality of both position and momentum is undercut. (shrink)
Experiments are described, using electroencephalography (EEG) and simple tests of performance, which support the hypothesis that collapse of a quantum field is of importance to the functioning of the brain. The theoretical basis of our experiments is derived from Penrose (1989) who suggested that conscious decision-making is a manifestation of the outcome of quantum computation in the brain involving collapse of some relevant wave function. He also proposed that collapse of any wave function depends on (...) a gravitational criterion. As different brain areas are known to subserve different functions, we argue that `Penrose collapse' must occur in a particular brain area when performing a task that uses it. Further, taking an EEG from the area should amplify the gravitational prerequisite for collapse, so affecting task performance. There are no non-quantum theories which could lead one to expect that taking an EEG could directly affect task performance by subjects. The results of both pilot and main experiments indicated that task performance was indeed influenced by taking an EEG from relevant brain areas. Control experiments suggested that the influence was quantum mechanical in origin, and was not due to any experimental artefact. The results are statistically significant and merit attempts at replication in an independent laboratory, preferably with more sophisticated equipment than was available to us. (shrink)
This paper deals with the version of Jung’s synchronicity in which correlation between mental processes of two different persons takes place not just in the case when at a certain moment of time the subjects are located at a distance from each other, but also in the case when both persons are alternately (and sequentially, one after the other) located in the same point of space. In this case, a certain period of time lapses between manifestation of mental process (...) in one person and manifestation of mental process in the other person. Transmission of information from one person to the other via classical communication channel is ruled out. The author proposes a hypothesis, whereby such manifestation of synchronicity may become possible thanks to existence of quantum entanglement between the past and the future within the light cone. This hypothesis is based on the latest perception of the nature of quantum vacuum. (shrink)
This is a philosophical paper in favor of the many-worlds interpretation (MWI) of quantumtheory. The necessity of introducing many worlds is explained by analyzing a neutron interference experiment. The concept of the “measure of existence of a world” is introduced and some difficulties with the issue of probability in the framework of the MWI are resolved.
In the paper we will employ set theory to study the formal aspects of quantum mechanics without explicitly making use of space-time. It is demonstrated that von Neuman and Zermelo numeral sets, previously efectively used in the explanation of Hardy’s paradox, follow a Heisenberg quantum form. Here monadic union plays the role of time derivative. The logical counterpart of monadic union plays the part of the Hamiltonian in the commutator. The use of numerals and monadic union in (...) the classical probability resolution of Hardy’s paradox  is supported with the present derivation of a commutator for sets. (shrink)
Although many physicists have little interest in philosophical arguments about their subject, an analysis of debates about the paradoxes of quantum mechanics shows that their disagreements often depend upon assumptions about the relationship between theories and the real world. Some consider that physics is about building mathematical models which necessarily have limited domains of applicability, while others are searching for a final theory of everything, to which their favourite theory is supposed to be an approximation. We discuss (...) some particular recent debates about quantumtheory in which the underlying assumptions are not fully articulated. Introduction Setting the scene The Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber theoryQuantum marbles Radioactive decay and isomerism The limits of quantumtheory. (shrink)
The aim of this article is twofold. Recently, Lewis has presented an argument, now known as the "counting anomaly", that the spontaneous localization approach to quantum mechanics, suggested by Ghirardi, Rimini, and Weber, implies that arithmetic does not apply to ordinary macroscopic objects. I will take this argument as the starting point for a discussion of the property structure of realist collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics in general. At the end of this I present a proof of (...) the fact that the composition principle, which holds true in standard quantum mechanics, fails in all realist collapse interpretations. On the basis of this result I reconsider the counting anomaly and show that what lies at the heart of the anomaly is the failure to appreciate the peculiarities of the property structure of such interpretations. Once this flaw is uncovered, the anomaly vanishes. (shrink)
The paper compares ontic structural realism in quantum physics with ontic structural realism about space–time. We contend that both quantumtheory and general relativity theory support a common, contentful metaphysics of ontic structural realism. After recalling the main claim of ontic structural realism and its physical support, we point out that both in the domain of quantumtheory and in the domain of general relativity theory, there are objects whose essential ways of being (...) are certain relations so that these objects do not possess an intrinsic identity. Nonetheless, the qualitative, physical nature of these relations is in the quantum case (entanglement) fundamentally different from the classical, metrical relations treated in general relativity theory. (shrink)
In the present paper, I shall argue that quantumtheory can contribute to reconciling evolutionary biology with the creation hypothesis. After giving a careful definition of the theological problem, I will, in a first step, formulate necessary conditions for the compatibility of evolutionary theory and the creation hypothesis. In a second step, I will show how quantumtheory can contribute to fulfilling these conditions. More precisely, I claim that (1) quantum probabilities are best understood (...) in terms of ontological indeterminism, but (2) reflect nevertheless causal openness rather than divine indifference or arbitrariness, and (3) such a genuinely creative universe can be considered as the work of a loving Creator. I ask subsequently whether these necessary conditions are also sufficient for the compatibility of evolutionary theory and the creation hypothesis. Finally, I will show that relating evolutionary biology with theology via quantumtheory could also shed some light on the nature of life. (shrink)
What is quantum mechanics about? The most natural way to interpret quantum mechanics realistically as a theory about the world might seem to be what is called wave function ontology: the view according to which the wave function mathematically represents in a complete way fundamentally all there is in the world. Erwin Schroedinger was one of the first proponents of such a view, but he dismissed it after he realized it led to macroscopic superpositions (if the wave (...) function evolves in time according to the equations that has his name). The Many-Worlds interpretation1 accepts the existence of such macroscopic superpositions but takes it that they can never be observed. Superposed objects and superposed observers split together in different worlds of the type of the one we appear to live in. For these who, like Schroedinger, think that macroscopic superpositions are a problem, the common wisdom is that there are two alternative views: "Either the wave function, as given by the Schroedinger equation, is not everything, or is not right" [Bell 1987]. The deBroglie-Bohm theory, now commonly known as Bohmian Mechanics, takes the first option: the description provided by a Schroedinger-evolving wave function is supplemented by the information provided by the configuration of the particles. The second possibility consists in assuming that, while the wave function provides the complete description of the system, its temporal evolution is not given by the Schroedinger equation. Rather, the usual Schroedinger evolution is interrupted by random and sudden "collapses". The most promising theory of this kind is the GRW theory, named after the scientists that developed it: Gian Carlo Ghirardi, Alberto Rimini and Tullio Weber.. It seems tempting to think that in GRW we can take the wave function ontologically seriously and avoid the problem of macroscopic superpositions just allowing for quantum jumps. In this paper we will argue that such "bare" wave function ontology is not possible, neither for GRW nor for any other quantumtheory: quantum mechanics cannot be about the wave function simpliciter. That is, we need more structure than the one provided by the wave function. As a response, quantum theories about the wave function can be supplemented with structure, without taking it as an additional ontology. We argue in reply that such "dressed-up" versions of wave function ontology are not sensible, since they compromise the acceptability of the theory as a satisfactory fundamental physical theory. Therefore we maintain that: 1- Strictly speaking, it is not possible to interpret quantum theories as theories about the wave function; 2- Even if the wave function is supplemented by additional non-ontological structures, there are reasons not to take the resulting theory seriously. Moreover, we will argue that any of the traditional responses to the measurement problem of quantum mechanics (Bohmian mechanics, GRW and Many-Worlds), contrarily to what commonly believed, share a common structure. That is, we maintain that: 3- All quantum theories should be regarded as theories in which physical objects are constituted by a primitive ontology. The primitive ontology is mathematically represented in the theory by a mathematical entity in three-dimensional space, or space-time. (shrink)
What belongs to quantumtheory is no more than what is needed for its derivation. Keeping to this maxim, we record a paradigmatic shift in the foundations of quantum mechanics, where the focus has recently from interpreting to reconstructing quantumtheory. Several historic and contemporary reconstructions are analyzed, including works of Hardy, Rovelli, and Clifton, Bub and Halvorson. We conclude by discussing the importance of a novel concept of intentionally incomplete reconstruction.
Among the alternatives of non-relativistic quantum mechanics (NRQM) there are those that give different predictions than quantum mechanics in yet-untested circumstances, while remaining compatible with current empirical findings. In order to test these predictions, one must isolate one’s system from environmental induced decoherence, which, on the standard view of NRQM, is the dynamical mechanism that is responsible for the ‘apparent’ collapse in open quantum systems. But while recent advances in condensed-matter physics may lead in the near (...) future to experimental setups that will allow one to test the two hypotheses, namely genuine collapse vs. decoherence, hence make progress toward a solution to the quantum measurement problem, those philosophers and physicists who are advocating an information-theoretic approach to the foundations of quantum mechanics are still unwilling to acknowledge the empirical character of the issue at stake. Here I argue that in doing so they are displaying an unwarranted double standard. r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. (shrink)
This article is the final one in a series of four papers investigating the stakeholder approach to running businesses. It argues that the optimally viable version of that approach is one in which employees have a co-equal status as stakeholders with shareholders (the maximum allowed for under stakeholder theory) while other groupings only have a minimal status as stakeholders and are generally restricted to just customers, suppliers, and lenders. This version is argued for on the grounds that (...) it both overcomes the implementation problems attendant upon having to serve the interests of a range of groupings and is justified in terms of stakeholder membership being confined to those groupings with a claim on the services of a business in virtue of directly contributing to its economic functioning. The ranking of non-shareholder stakeholders in the recommended version and, in particular, the maximal ranking granted to employees is argued to reflect the scale of the various contributions as measured by the degree to which making it exposes those stakeholders to both financial risk and a non-financial “work-related” risk peculiar to employees. It is concluded that although this is the best available version of the stakeholder approach it may not be the best of all possible ways of running a business. (shrink)
In the paper, the proof of the non-locality of quantum mechanics, given by Bedford and Stapp (1995), and appealing to the GHZ example, is analyzed. The proof does not contain any explicit assumption of realism, but instead it uses formal methods and techniques of the Lewis calculus of counterfactuals. To ascertain the validity of the proof, a formal semantic model for counterfactuals is constructed. With the help of this model it can be shown that the proof is faulty, because (...) it appeals to the unwarranted principle of “elimination of eliminated conditions” (EEC). As an additional way of showing unreasonableness of the assumption (EEC), it is argued that yet another alleged and highly controversial proof of non-locality of QM, using the Hardy example, can be made almost trivial with the help of (EEC). Finally, a general argument is produced to the effect that the locality condition in the form accepted by Stapp and Bedford is consistent with the quantum-mechanical predictions for the GHZ case under the assumption of indeterminism. This result undermines any future attempts of proving the incompatibility between the predictions of quantumtheory and the idea of no faster-than-light influence in the GHZ case, quite independently of the negative assessment of the particular derivation proposed by Stapp and Bedford. (shrink)
A paradigmatic shift in the foundations of quantum mechanics is recorded, from interpreting to reconstructing quantumtheory. Examples of reconstruction are analyzed, and conceptual foundations of the information-theoretic reconstruction developed. A concept of intentionally incomplete reconstruction is introduced to mark the novel content of research in the foundation of quantumtheory. ‡Many thanks to Lucien Hardy, Jeff Bub and Bill Demopoulos for their comments. This research was supported through the ANR grant ANR-06-BLAN-0348-01. Part of this (...) research was held at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Research at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is supported in part by the Government of Canada through NSERC and by the Province of Ontario through MRI. †To contact the author, please write to: CEA-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Quantum Mechanics can be viewed as a linear dynamical theory having a familiar mathematical framework but a mysterious probabilistic interpretation, or as a probabilistic theory having a familiar interpretation but a mysterious formal framework. These points of view are usually taken to be somewhat in tension with one another. The first has generated a vast literature aiming at a ``realistic" and ``collapse-free" interpretation of quantum mechanics that will account for its statistical predictions. The second has (...) generated an at least equally large literature aiming to derive, or at any rate motivate, the formal structure of quantumtheory in probabilistically intelligible terms. In this paper I explore, in a preliminary way, the possibility that these two programs have something to offer one another. In particular, I show that a version of the measurement problem occurs in essentially any non-classical probabilistic theory, and ask to what extent various interpretations of quantum mechanics continue to make sense in such a general setting. I make a start on answering this question in the case of a simplified version of the Everett interpretation. (shrink)
In this paper two different approaches to unification will be compared, Relational Blockworld (RBW) and Hiley’s implicate order. Both approaches are monistic in that they attempt to derive matter and spacetime geometry ‘at once’ in an interdependent and background independent fashion from something underneath both quantumtheory and relativity. Hiley’s monism resides in the implicate order via Clifford algebras and is based on process as fundamental while RBW’s monism resides in spacetimematter via path integrals over graphs whereby space, (...) time and matter are co-constructed per a global constraint equation. RBW’s monism therefore resides in being (relational blockworld) while that of Hiley’s resides in becoming (elementary processes). Regarding the derivation of quantumtheory and relativity, the promises and pitfalls of both approaches will be elaborated. Finally, special attention will be paid as to how Hiley’s process account might avoid the blockworld implications of relativity and the frozen time problem of canonical quantum gravity. (shrink)
It is said that the theory of relativity and quantumtheory are independent of each other. Their relationship is like water and oil. Now, it is very important for modern physics to synthesize them. In Physics and mathematics, Super String theory is studied, but instead of it, the tendimensional world appears. Our world is a three-dimensional world . What is the ten-dimensional world? It is more difficult than the string which is of Plank length. In the (...) ten dimensional world, physics is facing darkness and nothingness which man can not explain with the traditional physical words.The solution depends upon philosophy. I tried to synthesize themand succeeded.The following is an outline of my synthesis. 1. Utility and relativity of mathematical truth Mathematical truth is not absolute but relative. In the universe ( outside the solar system ), there is no perfect line. Because, by the gravitation of large astronomical bodies, space and lines are curved. Mathematical figure and numeration depend upon the promise of mankind. These are not absolute. Physics, which is grounded upon mathematics in certainty, is also relative. It expresses not the whole of the universe but a part of the universe. 2. Community and difference between the theory of relativity and quantumtheory Community is the negation of absoluteness of physical attributes. Difference is the assessment for mathematics. The theory of relativity relies on mathematics but quantumtheory does not always rely on it. According to circumstances, Niels Bohr and quantum physicists abandoned a frame of reference. 3. The origin of the theory of relativity 4. The origin of quantumtheory In short, the theory of relativity and quantumtheory are not perfect, they only irradiate a part of the universe. Man can reach the whole of the universe only by the philosophical intuition of nothingness and infinite (the principle of nothingness and love). (shrink)
I examine some problems standing in the way of a successful 'field interpretation' of quantum field theory. The most popular extant proposal depends on the Hilbert space of 'wavefunctionals.' But since wavefunctional space is unitarily equivalent to many-particle Fock space, two of the most powerful arguments against particle interpretations also undermine this form of field interpretation.
An epistemological interpretation of quantum mechanics hinges on the claim that the distinctive features of quantum mechanics can be derived from some distinctive features of an observational basis. Old and new variations of this theme are listed. The program has a limited success in non-relativistic quantum mechanics. The crucial issue is how far it can be extended to quantum field theory without introducing significant ontological postulates. A C*-formulation covers algebraic quantum field theory, but (...) not the standard model. Julian Schwinger’s anabatic methodology extended a strict measurement-based formulation of quantum mechanics through field theory. His extension also excluded the quark hypothesis and the standard model. Quarks and local gauge invariance are postulates that go beyond the limits of an epistemological interpretation of quantum mechanics. The ontological significance ascribed to these advances depends on the role accorded ontology. (shrink)
Much attention has been directed to the philosophical implications of quantum field theory (QFT) in recent years; this paper attempts a survey in low-technical terms. First the relations of QFT to other kinds of theory, classical and quantum, particle and field, are discussed. Then various formulations of QFT are introduced, along with related interpretations. Finally a review is made of some of the most interesting foundational problems.
This paper digests technical commonplaces of quantum field theory to present an informal interpretation of the theory by emphasizing its connections with the harmonic oscillator. The resulting "harmonic oscillator interpretation" enables newcomers to the subject to get some intuitive feel for the theory. The interpretation clarifies how the theory relates to observation and to quantum mechanical problems connected with observation. Finally the interpretation moves some way towards helping us see what the theory comes (...) to physically. The paper also argues that, in important respects, interpretive problems of quantum field theory are problems we know well from conventional quantum mechanics. An important exception concerns extending the puzzles surrounding the superposition of properties in conventional quantum mechanics to an exactly parallel notion of superposition of particles. Conventional quantum mechanics seems incompatible with a classical notion of property on which all quantities always have definite values. Quantum field theory presents an exactly analogous problem with saying that the number of "particles" is always definite. (shrink)
This paper is intended to be an introductory survey of subjects related to the problems dealt with in the three other papers in this symposium on quantum field theory. A brief history of quantum electrodynamics is given and some of the objections to it are stated. A brief history of quantum field theories from the 1970's to the present is then provided. Finally, a sketch of some of the philosophical work that has been done on (...) class='Hi'>quantum field theories is presented. The object of the paper is to explain why philosophers of physics have tended to neglect quantum field theories and to point out several of the conceptual issues raised by quantum field theories that call out for further analysis. (shrink)
Two of the main interpretative problems in quantum mechanics are the so-called measurement problem and the question of the compatibility of quantum mechanics with relativity theory. Modal interpretations of quantum mechanics were designed to solve both of these problems. They are no-collapse (typically) indeterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics that supplement the orthodox state description of physical systems by a set of possessed properties that is supposed to be rich enough to account for the classical-like (...) behavior of macroscopic systems, but sufficiently restricted so as to avoid the no-hidden-variables theorems. But, as recent no-go theorems suggest, current modal interpretations are incompatible with relativity. In this paper, we suggest a strategy for circumventing these theorems. We then show how this strategy could naturally be integrated in a relational version of the modal interpretation, where quantum-mechanical states assign relational rather than intrinsic properties. (shrink)
We develop a systematic approach to quantum probability as a theory of rational betting in quantum gambles. In these games of chance, the agent is betting in advance on the outcomes of several (finitely many) incompatible measurements. One of the measurements is subsequently chosen and performed and the money placed on the other measurements is returned to the agent. We show how the rules of rational betting imply all the interesting features of quantum probability, even in (...) such finite gambles. These include the uncertainty principle and the violation of Bell's inequality among others. Quantum gambles are closely related to quantum logic and provide a new semantics for it. We conclude with a philosophical discussion on the interpretation of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
This paper traces the origins of Eugene Wigner's pioneering application of group theory to quantum physics to his early work in chemistry and crystallography. In the early 1920s, crystallography was the only discipline in which symmetry groups were routinely used. Wigner's early training in chemistry, and his work in crystallography with Herman Mark and Karl Weissenberg at the Kaiser Wilhelm institute for fiber research in Berlin exposed him to conceptual tools which were absent from the pedagogy available to (...) physicists for many years to come. This both enabled and pushed him to apply the group theoretic approach to quantum physics. It took many years for the approach first introduced by Wigner in the 1920s – and whose reception by the physicists was initially problematical – to assume the pivotal place it now holds in physical theory and education. This is but one example that attests to the historic contribution made by the periphery in initiating new types of thought-perspectives and scientific careers. (shrink)
This paper examines the problem of founding irreversibility on reversible equations of motion from the point of view of the Brussels school's recent developments in the foundations of quantum statistical mechanics. A detailed critique of both their 'subdynamics' and 'transformation' theory is given. It is argued that the subdynamics approach involves a generalized form of 'coarse-graining' description, whereas, transformation theory cannot lead to truly irreversible processes pointing to a preferred direction of time. It is concluded that the (...) Brussels school's conception of microscopic temporal irreversibility, as such, is tacitly assumed at the macroscopic level. Finally a logical argument is provided which shows, independently of the mathematical formalism of the theory concerned, that statistical reasoning alone is not sufficient to explain the arrow of time. (shrink)
Several philosophers of science have claimed that the conceptual difficulties of quantum mechanics can be resolved by appealing to a particular interpretation of probability theory. For example, Popper bases his treatment of quantum mechanics on the propensity interpretation of probability, and Margenau bases his treatment of quantum mechanics on the frequency interpretation of probability. The purpose of this paper is (i) to consider and reject such claims, and (ii) to discuss the question of whether the ψ (...) -function refers to an individual system or to an ensemble of systems. (shrink)
After Heitler and London published their pioneering work on the application of quantum mechanics to chemistry in 1927, it became an almost unquestioned dogma that chemistry would soon disappear as a discipline of its own rights. Reductionism felt victorious in the hope of analytically describing the chemical bond and the structure of molecules. The old quantumtheory has already produced a widely applied model for the structure of atoms and the explanation of the periodic system. This paper (...) will show two examples of the entry of quantum physics into more classical fields of chemistry: inorganic chemistry and physical chemistry. Due to their professional networking, George Hevesy and Michael Polanyi found their ways to Niels Bohr and Fritz London, respectively, to cooperate in solving together some problems of classical chemistry. Their works on rare earth elements and adsorption theory throws light to the application of quantum physics outside the reductionist areas. They support the heuristic and persuasive value of quantum thinking in the 1920–1930s. Looking at Polanyi’s later oeuvre, his experience with adsorption theory could be a starting point of his non-justificationist philosophy. (shrink)
The old quantumtheory of black body radiation was manifestly logically inconsistent. It required the energies of electric resonators to be both quantized and continuous. To show that this manifest inconsistency was inessential to the theory's recovery of the Planck distribution law, I extract a subtheory free of this manifest inconsistency but from which Planck's law still follows.
Church's simple theory of types is a system of higher-order logic in which functions are assumed to be total. We present in this paper a version of Church's system called PF in which functions may be partial. The semantics of PF, which is based on Henkin's general-models semantics, allows terms to be nondenoting but requires formulas to always denote a standard truth value. We prove that PF is complete with respect to its semantics. The reasoning mechanism in PF (...) for partial functions corresponds closely to mathematical practice, and the formulation of PF adheres tightly to the framework of Church's system. (shrink)
With a certain graphic interpretation in mind, we say that a function whose value at every point in its domain is a nonempty set of real numbers is an Abacus. It is shown that to every collection C of abaci there corresponds a logic, called an abacus logic, i.e., a certain set of propositions partially ordered by generalized implication. It is also shown that to every collection C of abaci there corresponds a theory JC in a classical propositional calculus (...) such that the abacus logic determined by C is isomorphic to the poset of JC. Two examples are given. In both examples abacus logic is a lattice in which there happens to be an operation of orthocomplementation. In the first example abacus logic turns out to be the Lindenbaum algebra of JC. In the second example abacus logic is a lattice isomorphic to the ortholattice of subspaces of a Hilbert space. Thus quantum logic can be regarded as an abacus logic. Without suggesting "hidden variables" it is finally shown that the Lindenbaum algebra of the theory in the second example is a subalgebra of the abacus logic B of the kind studied in example 1. It turns out that the "classical observables" associated with B and the "quantum observables" associated with quantum logic are not unrelated. The value of a classical observable contains, in coded form, information about the "uncertainty" of a quantum observable. This information is retrieved by decoding the value of the corresponding classical observable. (shrink)
It has been suggested that we ought to idealize the apparatus used to measure quantum systems as consisting of an infinite number of particles. Variousauthors have claimed that if we do so we do not need to take seriously the limitations on measurement incorporated into the Wigner-Araki-Yanase quantumtheory of measurement. Bub (1988) and (1989) claims we can solve the measurement problem if we make this assumption. I argue against both claims on the basis (...) of differences between the role of such idealizations in classical and quantum mechanics. (shrink)
The problem of freedom and determinism has vexed philosophers for several millennia, and continues to be a topic of lively debate today. One of the proposed solutions to the problem that has received a great deal of attention is the Theory of Agent Causation. While the theory has enjoyed its share of advocates, and perhaps more than its share of critics, the theory’s advocates and critics have always agreed on one thing: the Theory of Agent Causation (...) is an incompatibilist theory. That is, both believers and nonbelievers in the theory have taken it for granted that the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is one according to which freedom and determinism are incompatible. In fact, so entrenched is this assumption that no one on either side of the debate has ever questioned it. Yet it turns out that this assumption is wrong – the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is a compatibilist one. (shrink)
Review of "The Collected Works of Eugene Paul Wigner", Volume I, III, and VI. Excerpt from the Conclusions: Many of Wigner’s papers on mathematical physics are great classics. Most famous is his work on group representations which is of lasting value for a proper mathematical foundation of quantumtheory. The modern development of quantumtheory (which is not reflected in Wigner’s work) is in an essential way a representation theory (e.g. representations of kinematical groups, or (...) representations of C*-algebras). This view owes very much to Wigner’s seminal papers on the unitary representations of compact and noncompact groups. Wigner showed much courage in relating the then unresolved questions of the measurement problem to the much deeper problem of consciousness. In view of this very unorthodox proposal it is astonishing that Wigner was very reactionary with respect of the dogmas of orthodox quantum mechanics. In contrast to von Neumann himself, he took the old von-Neumann codification of quantum mechanics as authoritative and not to be questioned. Much of the efforts to interpret the meaning of this codification and to prove no-go theorems, such as the insolubility of the measurement problem or the impossibility of a quantumtheory of individual objects, are physically irrelevant since they are based on a codification of quantum mechanics that is valid only for strictly closed systems with finitely many degrees of freedom. However, in nature there are no such systems. Every material system is coupled to the gravitational and to the electromagnetic field – systems which require in a Hamiltonian description infinitely many degrees of freedom. A deeper insight into the conceptual problems of quantumtheory is possible only if the modern development of a quantumtheory of infinite systems is taken into account. (shrink)
Both physicists and philosophers claim that quantum mechanics reduces to classical mechanics as 0, that classical mechanics is a limiting case of quantum mechanics. If so, several formal and non-formal conditions must be satisfied. These conditions are satisfied in a reduction using the Wigner transformation to map quantum mechanics onto the classical phase plane. This reduction does not, however, assist in providing an adequate metaphysical interpretation of quantumtheory.
In a series of papers, a many-minds interpretation of quantumtheory has been developed. The aim in these papers is to present an explicit mathematical formalism which constitutes a complete theory compatible with relativistic quantum ﬁeld theory. In this paper, which could also serve as an introduction to the earlier papers, three issues are discussed. First, a signiﬁcant, but fairly straightforward, revision in some of the technical details is proposed. This is used as an opportunity (...) to introduce the formalism. Then the probabilistic structure of the theory is revised, and it is proposed that the experience of an individual observer can be modelled as the experience of observing a particular, identiﬁed, discrete stochastic process. Finally, it is argued that the formalism can be modiﬁed to give a physics in which no constants are required. Instead, “constants” have to be determined by observation, and are ﬁxed only to the extent to which they have been observed. (shrink)
According to a common conception of causality the truth of a state ment that refers only to phenomena con ned to an earlier time cannot depend upon which measurement an experimenter will freely choose to perform at a later time According to a common idea of the theory of relativity this causality condition should be valid in all Lorentz frames It is shown here that this concept of relativistic causality is incompatible with some simple predictions of quantum (...) class='Hi'>theory.. (shrink)
In 1910–11 Axel Hägerström introduced an emotive theory of ethics asserting moral propositions and valuations in general to be neither true nor false. However, it is less well known that he modified his theory in the following year, now making a distinction between what he called primary and secondary valuations. From 1912 onwards, he restricted his emotive theory to primary valuations only, and applied an error theory to secondary ones. According to Hägerström, secondary valuations state that (...) objects have special value properties, that we believe we become acquainted with in primary valuations. But, in fact, we do not have any such acquaintance. There are no, and cannot be any such, properties in objects. What we take to be a property is a projection of a feeling. Therefore, all secondary valuations are false. In 1917 he developed his theory further and distinguished between different types of secondary valuations with different structures. Yet he argued that they all are false. Hägerström's discussion is interesting because, among other reasons, it is historically a very early version of error theory in ethics. In a way it can also be said to be a precursor to later versions, e.g., John Mackie's (1946 and 1977). There are obvious resemblances between their accounts. Mackie's discussion is, of course, independent of Hägerström's. (shrink)
This conference brought together experts in different fields related to the foundations of quantum mechanics, ranging from mathematical physics to experimental physics, as well as the philosophy of science. The major topics discussed are: collapse models, Bohemian mechanics and their relativistic extensions, other alternative formulation of quantum mechanics, properties of entanglement, statistical physics and probability theory, new experimental results, as well as philosophical and epistemological issues.
Quantum mechanics unites epistemology and ontology: it brings human knowledge explicitly into physical theory, and ties this knowledge into brain dynamics in a causally efficacious way. This development in science provides the basis for a natural resolution of the dualist functionalist controversy, which arises within the classical approach to the mind brain system from the fact that the phenomenal aspects are not derivable from the principles of classical mechanics. A conceptually simple causal quantum mechanical theory of (...) the mind/brain is described, and used to examine the necessity and function of consciousness in brain process. (shrink)
It has been suggested, on the one hand, that quantum states are just states of knowledge; and, on the other, that quantumtheory is merely a theory of correlations. These suggestions are confronted with problems about the nature of psycho-physical parallelism and about how we could define probabilities for our individual future observations given our individual present and previous observations. The complexity of the problems is underlined by arguments that unpredictability in ordinary everyday neural functioning, ultimately (...) stemming from small-scale uncertainties in molecular motions, may overwhelm, by many orders of magnitude, many conventionally recognized sources of observed ``quantum'' uncertainty. Some possible ways of avoiding the problems are considered but found wanting. It is proposed that a complete understanding of the relationship between subjective experience and its physical correlates requires the introduction of mathematical definitions and indeed of new physical laws. (shrink)
According to Kant's theory of thought or cognition, thoughts are rules for empirical reactions in the compass of spatial and temporal constructions. Theses rules function to represent our situation in relation to all the ways it is proper to interact with reality. After outlining Kant's theory, I present a modified version in which rules are identified with executive mechanisms for behavioural output. Following Kant, I show how such rules can pertain to the past in terms of mechanisms (...) for being beyond or past stages of temporal constructions. This identification of rules with mechanisms allows for a real definition of the truth of thoughts as the active realizability of the mechanisms that thoughts are. I show how this modified version can encompass the full scope of even relativistic spatio-temporal reality, and indicate why this theory deserves consideration as against rival descriptive and causal theories of cognition. (shrink)
In this paper we critically review the various attempts that have been made to understand quantum field theory. We focus on Teller's (1990) harmonic oscillator interpretation, and Bohm et al.'s (1987) causal interpretation. The former unabashedly aims to be a purely heuristic account, but we show that it is only interestingly applicable to the free bosonic field. Along the way we suggest alternative models. Bohm's interpretation provides an ontology for the theory--a classical field, with a quantum (...) equation of motion. This too has problems; it is not Lorentz invariant. (shrink)
We show that three fundamental information-theoretic constraints -- the impossibility of superluminal information transfer between two physical systems by performing measurements on one of them, the impossibility of broadcasting the information contained in an unknown physical state, and the impossibility of unconditionally secure bit commitment -- suffice to entail that the observables and state space of a physical theory are quantum-mechanical. We demonstrate the converse derivation in part, and consider the implications of alternative answers to a remaining open (...) question about nonlocality and bit commitment. (shrink)
This paper is a response to some recent discussions of many-minds interpretations in the philosophical literature. After an introduction to the many-minds idea, the complexity of quantum states for macroscopic objects is stressed. Then it is proposed that a characterization of the physical structure of observers is a proper goal for physical theory. It is argued that an observer cannot be defined merely by the instantaneous structure of a brain, but that the history of the brain's functioning must (...) also be taken into account. Next the nature of probability in many-minds interpretations is discussed and it is suggested that only discrete probability models are needed. The paper concludes with brief comments on issues of actuality and identity over time. (shrink)
The question raised by Shimony and Stein is examined and used to explain in more detail a key point of my proof that any theory that conforms to certain general ideas of orthodox relativistic quantum field theory must permit transfers of information over spacelike intervals. lt is also explained why this result is not a problem for relativistic quantumtheory, but, on the contrary, opens the door to a satisfactory realistic relativistic quantumtheory (...) based on the ideas of Tomonaga, Schwinger, and von Neumann. (shrink)
Around 1904 Meinong formulated his most famous idea: There are no empty (non-referential) singular terms. Each singular term refers to an object. Some of these objects do not exist but all of them enjoy status of Außersein. Russell also did not accept non-referential singular terms. But in his paper “On denoting” (1905) he claimed that all singular terms that are apparently empty could be reinterpreted as apparent singular terms. In short, Meinong expands his universe, while Russell narrows the category of (...) singular term. However, if we take a more careful look at both theories, we find many unexpected similarities. It is well known that Russell’s concept of a genuine proper name is very technical. Yet exactly the same holds for Meinong. Also according to him we can refer “directly” only to a very special category of ontologically simple objects. All reference to the common-sense individuals has to be mediated by Russellian descriptions. However, in the domain of Meinongian objects “beyond being and non-being” a plurality of objects always corresponds to each such Russellian description. Thus, if Meinong were right, there could be no definite descriptions. The only way we can get a definite description is to narrow the domain of reference by placing certain “extra-nuclear” (außerkonstitutorisch) predicates (“exists” or “possible”) in the scope of the description. If we narrow the domain of reference to existent objects, we can get a definite description in a simple Russellian way. We have only to specify a collection of predicates that is contingently satisfied by only one (existing) object. But if we operate in the domain of all possible objects, we have to specify all (absolute and relative) properties that are had by the object in question. It turns out that such a “Leibnizian” specification amounts to the complete description of a possible world. (shrink)
Hugh Everett III died of a heart attack in July 1982 at the age of 51. Almost 26 years later, a New York Times obituary for his PhD advisor, John Wheeler, mentioned him and Richard Feynman as Wheeler’s most prominent students. Everett’s PhD thesis on the relative state formulation of quantum mechanics, later known as the “Many Worlds Interpretation”, was published (in its edited form) in 1957, and later (in its original, unedited form) in 1973, and since then has (...) given rise to one of the most radical schools of thought in the foundations of quantumtheory. Several years ago two conferences held in Oxford and in the Perimeter Institute celebrated the occasion of 50 years to the first publication of Everett’s thesis. The book Many worlds? grew out from contributions to these conferences, but, as its editors emphasize, it is more than mere conference proceedings. Instead, an attempt was made to assemble an impressive collection of papers which together illustrate the promise of the many worlds interpretation and the obstacles it faces. 23 papers divided into six sections follow an introduction by Simon Saunders, one of Oxford’s fiercest Everettians. The first four sections cover two thorny issues that have been flagged by contemporary opponents to the many worlds interpretation, namely, the problem of ontology and the problem of probability, while the fifth discusses alternatives to Everett such as Bohmian mechanics and information–theoretic approaches to quantumtheory. The sixth section seems to be a wild card, hosting several papers unrelated to each other, including one of the most interesting contributions to this volume on the history of Everett’s thesis and his (some may say all too) short academic career. Each section concludes with transcripts of the discussion session that took place after the talks, thus giving an additional emphasis to the points of contention. Apart from general comments on the volume, in what follows I would like to concentrate on few papers I found especially illuminating. Start with ontology.. (shrink)
An investigation is made into how the foundations of statistical mechanics are affected once we treat classical mechanics as an approximation to quantum mechanics in certain domains rather than as a theory in its own right; this is necessary if we are to understand statistical-mechanical systems in our own world. Relevant structural and dynamical differences are identified between classical and quantum mechanics (partly through analysis of technical work on quantum chaos by other authors). These imply that (...)quantum mechanics significantly affects a number of foundational questions, including the nature of statistical probability and the direction of time. (shrink)
Orthodox Copenhagen quantumtheory renounces the quest to understand the reality in which we are imbedded, and settles for practical rules that describe connections between our observations. Many physicist have believed that this renunciation of the attempt describe nature herself was premature, and John von Neumann, in a major work, reformulated quantumtheory as a theory of the evolving objective universe. In the course of his work he converted to a benefit what had appeared to (...) be a severe deficiency of the Copenhagen interpretation, namely its introduction into physical theory of the human observers. He used this subjective element of quantumtheory to achieve a significant advance on the main problem in philosophy, which is to understand the relationship between mind and matter. That problem had been tied closely to physical theory by the works of Newton and Descartes. The present work examines the major problems that have appeared to block the development of von Neumann’s theory into a fully satisfactory theory of Nature, and proposes solutions to these problems. (shrink)
I shall describe the beautiful fit of the ideas of Alfred North Whitehead and William James with the concepts of relativistic quantum field theory developed by Tomonaga and Schwinger.The central concept is a set of happenings each of which is assigned a space-time region.This growing set of non-overlapping regions fill out a growing space-time region that advances into the still uncreated and yet-to-be-axed future.Each happening has both experiential aspects and physical aspects,which are jointly needed to generate the advance (...) into the future.This conception is useful in passing from the pragmatic interpretation of science to a putative understanding of the reality beyond phenomena,and of our role within it. James' ideas about attention and volition are naturally implementable within this framework,and make us into agents that can act eficaciously upon the physical world on the basis of felt values, rational reasons,and conscious understandings. (shrink)
This paper gives a technically elementary treatment of some aspects of Hamilton-Jacobi theory, especially in relation to the calculus of variations. The second half of the paper describes the application to geometric optics, the optico-mechanical analogy and the transition to quantum mechanics. Finally, I report recent work of Holland providing a Hamiltonian formulation of the pilot-wave theory.
The aim of this paper is two-fold. Recently, Lewis has presented an argument, now known as the `counting anomaly', that the spontaneous localization approach to quantum mechanics, suggested by Ghirardi, Rimini, and Weber, implies that arithmetic does not apply to ordinary macroscopic objects. I will take this argument as the starting point for a discussion of the property structure of realist collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics in general. At the end of this I present a proof of (...) the fact that the composition principle, which holds true in Standard Quantum Mechanics, fails in all realist collapse interpretations. On the basis of this result I reconsider the counting anomaly and show that what lies at the heart of the anomaly is the failure to appreciate the peculiarities of the property structure of collapse interpretations. Once this flaw is uncovered, the anomaly vanishes. (shrink)
Although the philosophical literature on the foundations of quantum field theory recognizes the importance of Haag’s theorem, it does not provide a clear discussion of the meaning of this theorem. The goal of this paper is to make up for this deficit. In particular, it aims to set out the implications of Haag’s theorem for scattering theory, the interaction picture, the use of non-Fock representations in describing interacting fields, and the choice among the plethora of the unitarily (...) inequivalent representations of the canonical commutation relations for free and interacting fields. (shrink)
I argue that a dual-aspect theory of consciousness, associated with a particular class of quantum states, can provide a consistent account of consciousness. I illustrate this with the use of coherent states as this class. The proposal meets Chalmers 'requirements of allowing a structural correspondence between consciousness and its physical correlate. It provides a means for consciousness to have an effect on the world (it is not an epiphenomenon, and can thus be selected by evolution) in a way (...) that supplements and completes conventional physics, rather than interfering with it. I draw on the work of Hameroff and Penrose to explain the consistency of this proposal with decoherence, while adding details to this work. The proposal is open to extensive further research at both theoretical and experimental levels. (shrink)
I discuss issues concerning the philosophical foundations andimplications of quantum field theory, renormalization inparticular. A new understanding of the correspondence principle,an unexpected role of perturbation theory and, most of all, acriterion to reduce the set of consistent theories frominfinitely many to finitely many, are the key concepts of atheoretical set-up that appears to overcome in a natural wayvarious consistency problems of quantum mechanics and offerseveral hints for further developments.
We give a new argument supporting a gravitational role in quantumcollapse. It is demonstrated that the discreteness of space-time, which results from the proper combination of quantumtheory and general relativity, may inevitably result in the dynamical collapse of thewave function. Moreover, the minimum size of discrete space-time yields a plausible collapse criterion consistent with experiments. By assuming that the source to collapse the wave function is the inherent random motion of particles (...) described by the wave function, we further propose a concrete model of wavefunction collapse in the discrete space-time. It is shown that the model is consistent with the existing experiments and macroscopic experiences. (shrink)
The physics and metaphysics of quantum field theory Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9609-2 Authors Federico Laudisa, Department of Human Sciences “R. Massa”, University of Milan-Bicocca, Piazza Ateneo Nuovo 1, 20126 Milan, Italy Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
The essays in the first part, Approaches to Ontology, explore different philosophical frameworks in which the ontology of QFT could fruitfully be examined. Despite their differences, they all agree that traditional ontologies, in particular substance-attribute ontology, are unsuitable for QFT. Peter Simons begins by pointing out why substance-attribute ontology, applied set theory, fact ontology, occurrent ontologies, and trope theory are inadequate ontologies for QFT and then puts forward his own suggestion: factored ontology. The main idea of this ontology (...) is to posit basic features (so-called ‘factors’) and to view objects as suitable combinations of some of these factors. He presents an outline of a version of a factored ontology, called PACIS, which he and his collaborators have developed over the last fifteen years and which they have – in their view successfully – applied to different domains in the natural and the social sciences. Given this success, Simons is confident that this framework will also prove fruitful in the case of QFT. However, he does not give any further argument for this claim and does not make an attempt at formulating a concrete factor 1 ontology of QFT. He merely puts forward his framework as a conceptual tool and leaves it to the philosopher of physics to work out an interpretation of QFT in its terms. (shrink)
This dissertation reconsiders some traditional issues in the foundations of quantum mechanics in the context of relativistic quantum field theory (RQFT); and it considers some novel foundational issues that arise first in the context of RQFT. The first part of the dissertation considers quantum nonlocality in RQFT. Here I show that the generic state of RQFT displays Bell correlations relative to measurements performed in any pair of spacelike separated regions, no matter how distant. I also show (...) that local systems in RQFT are "open" to influence from their environment, in the sense that it is generally impossible to perform local operations that would remove the entanglement between a local system and any other spacelike separated system. The second part of the dissertation argues that RQFT does not support a particle ontology -- at least if particles are understood to be localizable objects. In particular, while RQFT permits us to describe situations in which a determinate number of particles are present, it does not permit us to speak of the location of any individual particle, nor of the number of particles in any particular region of space. Nonetheless, the absence of localizable particles in RQFT does not threaten the integrity of our commonsense concept of a localized object. Indeed, RQFT itself predicts that descriptions in terms of localized objects can be quite accurate on the macroscopic level. The third part of the dissertation examines the so-called observer-dependence of the particle concept in RQFT -- that is, whether there are any particles present must be relativized to an observer's state of motion. Now, it is not uncommon for modern physical theories to subsume observer-dependent descriptions under a more general observer-independent description of some underlying state of affairs. However, I show that the conflicting accounts concerning the particle content of the field cannot be reconciled in this way. In fact, I argue that these conflicting accounts should be thought of as "complementary" in the same sense that position and momentum descriptions are complementary in elementary quantum mechanics. (shrink)
This thesis is a contribution to the debate on the implications of quantum information theory for the foundations of quantum mechanics. In Part 1, the logical and conceptual status of various notions of information is assessed. It is emphasized that the everyday notion of information is to be firmly distinguished from the technical notions arising in information theory; however it is maintained that in both settings `information' functions as an abstract noun, hence does not refer to (...) a particular or substance (the worth of this point is illustrated in application to quantum teleportation). The claim that `Information is Physical' is assessed and argued to face a destructive dilemma. Accordingly, the slogan may not be understood as an ontological claim, but at best, as a methodological one. The reflections of Bruckner and Zeilinger (2001) and Deutsch and Hayden (2000) on the nature of information in quantum mechanics are critically assessed and some results presented on the characterization of entanglement in the Deutsch-Hayden formalism. Some philosophical aspects of quantum computation are discussed and general morals drawn concerning the nature of quantum information theory. In Part II, following some preliminary remarks, two particular information-theoretic approaches to the foundations of quantum mechanics are assessed in detail. It is argued that Zeilinger's (1999) Foundational Principle is unsuccessful as a foundational principle for quantum mechanics. The information-theoretic characterization theorem of Clifton, Bub and Halvorson (2003) is assessed more favourably, but the generality of the approach is questioned and it is argued that the implications of the theorem for the traditional foundational problems in quantum mechanics remains obscure. (shrink)
What does quantum ﬁeld theory (QFT) tell us about the furniture of the world? Seventeen essays gathered in the four parts of Ontological Aspects of Quantum Field Theory address this question from different angles and with different objectives. Together, they form a wide-ranging and up-to-date volume that makes a valuable contribution to an ongoing discussion, which, due to the comprehensive introduction by the editors, can be of interest to experts and novices alike.
Bohmian mechanics is arguably the most naively obvious embedding imaginable of Schr¨ odinger’s equation into a completely coherent physical theory. It describes a world in which particles move in a highly non-Newtonian sort of way, one which may at first appear to have little to do with the spectrum of predictions of quantum mechanics. It turns out, however, that as a consequence of the defining dynamical equations of Bohmian mechanics, when a system has wave function ψ its configuration (...) is typically random, with probability density ρ given by |ψ|2, the quantum equilibrium distribution. It also turns out that the entire quantum formalism, operators as observables and all the rest, naturally emerges in Bohmian mechanics from the analysis of “measurements.” This analysis reveals the status of operators as observables in the description of quantum phenomena, and facilitates a clear view of the range of applicability of the usual quantum mechanical formulas. (shrink)
We study the process of observation (measurement), within the framework of a `perspectival' (`relational', `relative state')version of the modal interpretation of quantum mechanics. We show that if we assume certain features of discreteness and determinism in the operation of the measuring device (which could be a part of the observer's nerve system), this gives rise to classical characteristics of the observed properties, in the first place to spatial localization. We investigate to what extent semi-classical behavior of the object (...) system itself (as opposed to the observational system) is needed for the emergence of classicality. Decoherence is an essential element in the mechanism of observation that we assume, but it turns out that in our approach no environment-induced decoherence on the level of the object system is required for the emergence of classical properties. (shrink)