This paper offers a critical assessment of the current state of the debate about the identity and individuality of material objects. Its main aim, in particular, is to show that, in a sense to be carefully specified, the opposition between the Leibnizian ‘reductionist’ tradition, based on discernibility, and the sort of ‘primitivism’ that denies that facts of identity and individuality must be analysable has become outdated. In particular, it is argued that—contrary to a widespread consensus—‘naturalised’ metaphysics supports both the acceptability (...) of non-qualitatively grounded (both ‘contextual’ and intrinsic) identity and a pluralistic approach to individuality and individuation. A case study is offered that focuses on non-relativistic quantum mechanics, in the context of which primitivism about identity and individuality, rather than being regarded as unscientific, is on the contrary suggested to be preferable to the complicated forms of reductionism that have recently been proposed. More generally, by assuming a plausible form of anti-reductionism about scientific theories and domains, it is claimed that science can be regarded as compatible with, or even as suggesting, the existence of a series of equally plausible grades of individuality. The kind of individuality that prevails in a certain context and at a given level can be ascertained only on the basis of the specific scientific theory at hand. (shrink)
The textbook presentation of quantum mechanics, in a nutshell, is this. The physical state of any isolated system evolves deterministically in accordance with Schrödinger's equation until a "measurement" of some physical magnitude M (e.g. position, energy, spin) is made. Restricting attention to the case where the values of M are discrete, the system's pre-measurement state-vector f is a linear combination, or "superposition", of vectors f1, f2,... that individually represent states that..
Statistical mechanics attempts to explain the behaviour of macroscopic physical systems in terms of the mechanical properties of their constituents. Although it is one of the fundamental theories of physics, it has received little attention from philosophers of science. Nevertheless, it raises philosophical questions of fundamental importance on the nature of time, chance and reduction. Most philosophical issues in this domain relate to the question of the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics. This book addresses issues inherent in (...) this reduction: the time-asymmetry of thermodynamics and its absence in statistical mechanics; the role and essential nature of chance and probability in this reduction when thermodynamics is non-probabilistic; and how, if at all, the reduction is possible. Compiling contributions on current research by experts in the field, this is an invaluable survey of the philosophy of statistical mechanics for academic researchers and graduate students interested in the foundations of physics. (shrink)
David Wallace has given a decision-theoretic argument for the Born Rule in the context of Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM). This approach promises to resolve some long-standing problems with probability in EQM, but it has faced plenty of resistance. One kind of objection (the ‘incoherence problem’) charges that the requisite notion of decision-theoretic uncertainty is unavailable in the Everettian picture, so that the argument cannot gain any traction; another kind of objection grants the proof’s applicability and targets the premises. In (...) this article I propose some novel principles connecting the physics of EQM with the metaphysics of modality, and argue that in the resulting framework the incoherence problem does not arise. These principles also help to justify one of the most controversial premises of Wallace’s argument, ‘branching indifference’. Absent any a priori reason to align the metaphysics with the physics in some other way, the proposed principles can be adopted on grounds of theoretical utility. The upshot is that Everettians can, after all, make clear sense of objective probability. 1 Introduction2 Setup3 Individualism versus Collectivism4 The Ingredients of Indexicalism5 Indexicalism and Incoherence5.1 The trivialization problem5.2 The uncertainty problem6 Indexicalism and Branching Indifference6.1 Introducing branching indifference6.2 The pragmatic defence of branching indifference6.3 The non-existence defence of branching indifference6.4 The indexicalist defence of branching indifference7 Conclusion. (shrink)
Does quantum mechanics clash with the equivalence principle—and does it matter? Content Type Journal Article Pages 133-145 DOI 10.1007/s13194-010-0009-z Authors Elias Okon, Philosophy Department, UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla CA, 92093, USA Craig Callender, Philosophy Department, UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla CA, 92093, USA Journal European Journal for Philosophy of Science Online ISSN 1879-4920 Print ISSN 1879-4912 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 1.
Contrary to the widespread belief, the problem of the emergence of classical mechanics from quantum mechanics is still open. In spite of many results on the ¯h → 0 asymptotics, it is not yet clear how to explain within standard quantum mechanics the classical motion of macroscopic bodies. In this paper we shall analyze special cases of classical behavior in the framework of a precise formulation of quantum mechanics, Bohmian mechanics, which contains in its own (...) structure the possibility of describing real objects in an observer-independent way. (shrink)
Everett (1957a, b, 1973) relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics has often been taken to involve a metaphysical commitment to the existence of many splitting worlds each containing physical copies of observers and the objects they observe. While there was earlier talk of splitting worlds in connection with Everett, this is largely due to DeWitt’s (Phys Today 23:30–35, 1970) popular presentation of the theory. While the thought of splitting worlds or parallel universes has captured the popular imagination, Everett himself favored (...) the language of elements, branches, or relative states in describing his theory. The result is that there is no mention of splitting worlds or parallel universes in any of Everett’s published work. Everett, however, did write of splitting observers and was willing to adopt the language of many worlds in conversation with people who were themselves using such language. While there is evidence that Everett was not entirely comfortable with talk of many worlds, it does not seem to have mattered much to him what language one used to describe pure wave mechanics. This was in part a result of Everett’s empirical understanding of the cognitive status of his theory. (shrink)
Many recent results suggest that quantum theory is about information, and that quantum theory is best understood as arising from principles concerning information and information processing. At the same time, by far the simplest version of quantum mechanics, Bohmian mechanics, is concerned, not with information but with the behavior of an objective microscopic reality given by particles and their positions. What I would like to do here is to examine whether, and to what extent, the importance of information, (...) observation, and the like in quantum theory can be understood from a Bohmian perspective. I would like to explore the hypothesis that the idea that information plays a special role in physics naturally emerges in a Bohmian universe. (shrink)
Carlo Rovelli's relational interpretation of quantum mechanics holds that a system's states or the values of its physical quantities as normally conceived only exist relative to a cut between a system and an observer or measuring instrument. Furthermore, on Rovelli's account, the appearance of determinate observations from pure quantum superpositions happens only relative to the interaction of the system and observer. Jeffrey Barrett () has pointed out that certain relational interpretations suffer from what we might call the ‘determinacy problem', (...) but Barrett misclassifies Rovelli's interpretation by lumping it in with Mermin's view, as Rovelli's view is quite different and has resources to escape the particular criticisms that Barrett makes of Mermin's view. Rovelli's interpretation still leaves us with a paradox having to do with the determinacy of measurement outcomes, which can be accepted only if we are willing to give up on certain elements of the ‘absolute’ view of the world. (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 quantum theory: 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)
We clarify Bohr’s interpretation of quantum mechanics by demonstrating the central role played by his thesis that quantum theory is a rational generalization of classical mechanics. This thesis is essential for an adequate understanding of his insistence on the indispensability of classical concepts, his account of how the quantum formalism gets its meaning, and his belief that hidden variable interpretations are impossible.
Pekka Lahti is a prominent exponent of the renaissance of foundational studies in quantum mechanics that has taken place during the last few decades. Among other things, he and coworkers have drawn renewed attention to, and have analyzed with fresh mathematical rigor, the threat of inconsistency at the basis of quantum theory: ordinary measurement interactions, described within the mathematical formalism by Schrödinger-type equations of motion, seem to be unable to lead to the occurrence of definite measurement outcomes, whereas the (...) same formalism is interpreted in terms of probabilities of precisely such definite outcomes. Of course, it is essential here to be explicit about how definite measurement results (or definite properties in general) should be represented in the formalism. To this end Lahti et al. have introduced their objectification requirement that says that a system can be taken to possess a definite property if it is certain (in the sense of probability 1) that this property will be found upon measurement. As they have gone on to demonstrate, this requirement entails that in general definite outcomes cannot arise in unitary measuring processes.In this paper we investigate whether it is possible to escape from this deadlock. As we shall argue, there is a way out in which the objectification requirement is fully maintained. The key idea is to adapt the notion of objectivity itself, by introducing relational or perspectival properties. It seems that such a “relational perspective” offers prospects of overcoming some of the long-standing problems in the interpretation of quantum mechanics. (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)
This paper attempts an interpretation of Everett's relative state formulation of quantum mechanics that avoids the commitment to new metaphysical entities like âworldsâ or âmindsâ. Starting from Everett's quantum mechanical model of an observer, it is argued that an observer's belief to be in an eigenstate of the measurement (corresponding to the observation of a well-defined measurement outcome) is consistent with the fact that she objectively is in a superposition of such states. Subjective states corresponding to such beliefs are (...) constructed. From an analysis of these subjective states and their dynamics it is argued that Everett's pure wave mechanics is subjectively consistent with von Neumann's classical formulation of quantum mechanics. It follows from the argument that the objective state of a system is in principle unobservable. Nevertheless, an adequate concept of empirical reality can be constructed. (shrink)
E. Schrödinger's ideas on interpreting quantum mechanics have been recently re-examined by historians and revived by philosophers of quantum mechanics. Such recent re-evaluations have focused on Schrödinger's retention of space–time continuity and his relinquishment of the corpuscularian understanding of microphysical systems. Several of these historical re-examinations claim that Schrödinger refrained from pursuing his 1926 wave-mechanical interpretation of quantum mechanics under pressure from the Copenhagen and Göttingen physicists, who misinterpreted his ideas in their dogmatic pursuit of the complementarity (...) doctrine and the principle of uncertainty. My analysis points to very different reasons for Schrödinger's decision and, accordingly, to a rather different understanding of the dialogue between Schrödinger and N. Bohr, who refuted Schrödinger's arguments. Bohr's critique of Schrödinger's arguments predominantly focused on the results of experiments on the scattering of electrons performed by Bothe and Geiger, and by Compton and Simon. Although he shared Schrödinger's rejection of full-blown classical entities, Bohr argued that these results demonstrated the corpuscular nature of atomic interactions. I argue that it was Schrödinger's agreement with Bohr's critique, not the dogmatic pressure, which led him to give up pursuing his interpretation for 7 yr. Bohr's critique reflected his deep understanding of Schrödinger's ideas and motivated, at least in part, his own pursuit of his complementarity principle. However, in 1935 Schrödinger revived and reformulated the wave-mechanical interpretation. The revival reflected N. F. Mott's novel wave-mechanical treatment of particle-like properties. R. Shankland's experiment, which demonstrated an apparent conflict with the results of Bothe–Geiger and Compton–Simon, may have been additional motivation for the revival. Subsequent measurements have proven the original experimental results accurate, and I argue that Schrödinger may have perceived even the reformulated wave-mechanical approach as too tenuous in light of Bohr's critique. (shrink)
Recent years saw the rise of an interest in the roles and significance of thought experiments in different areas of human thinking. Heisenberg's gamma ray microscope is no doubt one of the most famous examples of a thought experiment in physics. Nevertheless, this particular thought experiment has not received much detailed attention in the philosophical literature on thought experiments up to date, maybe because of its often claimed inadequacies. In this paper, I try to do two things: to provide an (...) interesting interpretation of the roles played by Heisenberg's gamma ray microscope in interpreting quantum mechanics – partly based on Thomas Kuhn’s views on the function of thought experiments – and to contribute to the ongoing discussions on the roles and significance of thought experiments in physics. (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.
This chapter will review selected aspects of the terrain of discussions about probabilities in statistical mechanics (with no pretensions to exhaustiveness, though the major issues will be touched upon), and will argue for a number of claims. None of the claims to be defended is entirely original, but all deserve emphasis. The first, and least controversial, is that probabilistic notions are needed to make sense of statistical mechanics. The reason for this is the same reason that convinced Maxwell, (...) Gibbs, and Boltzmann that probabilities would be needed, namely, that the second law of thermodynamics, which in its original formulation says that certain processes are impossible, must, on the kinetic theory, be replaced by a weaker formulation according to which what the original version deems impossible is merely improbable. Second is that we ought not take the standard measures invoked in equilibrium statistical mechanics as giving, in any sense, the correct probabilities about microstates of the system. We can settle for a much weaker claim: that the probabilities for outcomes of experiments yielded by the standard distributions are effectively the same as those yielded by any distribution that we should take as a representing probabilities over microstates. Lastly, (and most controversially): in asking about the status of probabilities in statistical mechanics, the familiar dichotomy between epistemic probabilities (credences, or degrees of belief) and ontic (physical) probabilities is insufficient; the concept of probability that is best suited to the needs of statistical mechanics is one that combines epistemic and physical considerations. (shrink)
Bohmian mechanics is a quantum theory with a clear ontology. To make clear what we mean by this, we shall proceed by recalling first what are the problems of quantum mechanics. We shall then briefly sketch the basics of Bohmian mechanics and indicate how Bohmian mechanics solves these problems and clarifies the status and the role of of the quantum formalism.
The literature on physicalism often fails to elucidate, I think, what the word physical in physical ism precisely means. Philosophers speak at times of an ideal set of fundamental physical facts, or they stipulate that physical means non-mental , such that all fundamental physical facts are fundamental facts pertaining to the non-mental. In this article, I will probe physicalism in the very much tangible framework of quantum mechanics. Although this theory, unlike “ideal physics” or some “final theory of non-mentality”, (...) is an incomplete theory of the world, I believe this analysis will be of value, if for nothing else, at least for bringing some taste of physical reality, as it were, back to the debate. First, I will introduce a broad characterization of the physicalist credo. In Sect. 2, I will provide a rather quick review of quantum mechanics and some of its current interpretations. In Sect. 3, the notion of quantum non-separability will be analyzed, which will facilitate a discussion of the wave function ontology in Sect. 4. In Sects. 5 and 6, I will explore competing views on the implications of this ontology. In Sect. 7, I will argue that the prior results, based on a thoroughly realist interpretation of quantum mechanics, support only a weak version of non-reductive physicalism. (shrink)
Statistical mechanics is one of the crucial fundamental theories of physics, and in his new book Lawrence Sklar, one of the pre-eminent philosophers of physics, offers a comprehensive, non-technical introduction to that theory and to attempts to understand its foundational elements. Among the topics treated in detail are: probability and statistical explanation, the basic issues in both equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, the role of cosmology, the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics, and the alleged foundation of (...) the very notion of time asymmetry in the entropic asymmetry of systems in time. The book emphasises the interaction of scientific and philosophical modes of reasoning, and in this way will interest all philosophers of science as well as those in physics and chemistry concerned with philosophical questions. The book could also be read by an informed general reader interested in the foundations of modern science. (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 quantum theory 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 realistic axiomatic formulation of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics for a single microsystem with spin is presented, from which the most important theorems of the theory can be deduced. In comparison with previous formulations, the formal aspect has been improved by the use of certain mathematical theories, such as the theory of equipped spaces, and group theory. The standard formalism is naturally obtained from the latter, starting from a central primitive concept: the Galilei group.
We present an axiomatization of non-relativistic Quantum Mechanics for a system with an arbitrary number of components. The interpretation of our system of axioms is realistic and objective. The EPR paradox and its relation with realism is discussed in this framework. It is shown that there is no contradiction between realism and recent experimental results.
General metaphysical arguments have been proposed in favour of the thesis that all dispositions have categorical bases (Armstrong; Prior, Pargetter, Jackson). These arguments have been countered by equally general arguments in support of ungrounded dispositions (Molnar, Mumford). I believe that this controversy cannot be settled purely on the level of abstract metaphysical considerations. Instead, I propose to look for ungrounded dispositions in specific physical theories, such as quantum mechanics. I explain why non-classical properties such as spin are best interpreted (...) as irreducible dispositional properties, and I give reasons why even seemingly classical properties, for instance position or momentum, should receive a similar treatment when interpreted in the quantum realm. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I argue that quantum dispositions should not be limited to probabilistic dispositions (propensities) by showing reasons why even possession of well-defined values of parameters should qualify as a dispositional property. I finally discuss the issue of the actuality of quantum dispositions, arguing that it may be justified to treat them as potentialities whose being has a lesser degree of reality than that of classical categorical properties, due to the incompatibility relations between non-commuting observables. (shrink)
How do we figure out the fundamental nature of the world from a mathematically formulated physical theory? To figure out the nature of a world’s spacetime, we follow this rule: posit the least spacetime structure to the world that’s required by the fundamental dynamical laws. Applied to special relativity, for example, this rule tells us to not posit an absolute simultaneity structure. I suggest that we use this rule for more than just spacetime structure. We should also posit the least (...) statespace structure required by the fundamental dynamical laws. This rule yields surprising conclusions. Applied to classical mechanics, it suggests that a world governed by the theory has less fundamental structure than we ordinarily think. For the theory’s statespace imparts less structure to a world’s physical space than we ordinarily think. (shrink)
This paper argues that ontic structural realism (OSR) faces a dilemma: either it remains on the general level of realism with respect to the structure of a given theory, but then it is, like epistemic structural realism, only a partial realism; or it is a complete realism, but then it has to answer the question how the structure of a given theory is implemented, instantiated or realized and thus has to argue for a particular interpretation of the theory in question. (...) This claim is illustrated by examining how OSR fares with respect to the three main candidates for an ontology of quantum mechanics, namely many worlds-type interpretations, collapse-type interpretations and hidden variable-type interpretations. The result is that OSR as such is not sufficient to answer the question of what the world is like if quantum mechanics is correct. (shrink)
Von Neumann in 1932 was the first to outline the possible non-existence of dispersion free ensembles in quantum mechanics, and he used this basic evidence to give a preliminary proof on incompatibility between quantum mechanics and local hidden variables theory. In the present paper, we give a detailed theoretical elaboration on the manner in which such a fundamental subject could be explored at perceptive and cognitive levels in humans. We also discuss a general design of the experiment that (...) we have in progress so to give direct indications to other researchers engaged in such field. (shrink)
We make a first attempt to axiomatically formulate the Montevideo interpretation of quantum mechanics. In this interpretation environmental decoherence is supplemented with loss of coherence due to the use of realistic clocks to measure time to solve the measurement problem. The resulting formulation is framed entirely in terms of quantum objects without having to invoke the existence of measurable classical quantities like the time in ordinary quantum mechanics. The formulation eliminates any privileged role to the measurement process giving (...) an objective definition of when an event occurs in a system. (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)
We describe in detail the first experimental test that distinguishes between an event-based corpuscular model of the interaction of photons with matter and quantum mechanics. The test looks at the interference that results as a single photon passes through a Mach-Zehnder interferometer. The experimental results, obtained with a low-noise single-photon source, agree with the predictions of standard quantum mechanics.
The relationship between mathematical formalism, physical interpretation and epistemological appraisal in the practice of physical theorizing is considered in the context of Bohmian mechanics. After laying outthe formal mathematical postulates of thetheory and recovering the historical roots ofthe present debate over the meaning of Bohmianmechanics from the early debate over themeaning of Schrödinger's wave mechanics,several contemporary interpretations of Bohmianmechanics in the literature are discussed andcritiqued with respect to the aim of causalexplanation and an alternative interpretationis proposed. Throughout, the (...) over-arching aimis to exhibit the connections betweenmathematical, ontological and methodologicalquestions in physical theory and to reflect onthe rationality of physical theorizing in lightof the present case. (shrink)
A recent rethinking of the early history of Quantum Mechanics deemed the late 1920s agreement on the equivalence of Matrix Mechanics and Wave Mechanics, prompted by Schrödinger's 1926 proof, a myth. Schrödinger supposedly failed to prove isomorphism, or even a weaker equivalence (“Schrödinger-equivalence”) of the mathematical structures of the two theories; developments in the early 1930s, especially the work of mathematician von Neumann provided sound proof of mathematical equivalence. The alleged agreement about the Copenhagen Interpretation, predicated to (...) a large extent on this equivalence, was deemed a myth as well. In response, I argue that Schrödinger's proof concerned primarily a domain-specific ontological equivalence, rather than the isomorphism or a weaker mathematical equivalence. It stemmed initially from the agreement of the eigenvalues of Wave Mechanics and energy-states of Bohr's Model that was discovered and published by Schrödinger in his first and second communications of 1926. Schrödinger demonstrated in this proof that the laws of motion arrived at by the method of Matrix Mechanics are satisfied by assigning the auxiliary role to eigenfunctions in the derivation of matrices (while he only outlined the reversed derivation of eigenfunctions from Matrix Mechanics, which was necessary for the proof of both isomorphism and Schrödinger-equivalence of the two theories). This result was intended to demonstrate the domain-specific ontological equivalence of Matrix Mechanics and Wave Mechanics, with respect to the domain of Bohr's atom. And although the mathematical equivalence of the theories did not seem out of the reach of existing theories and methods, Schrödinger never intended to fully explore such a possibility in his proof paper. In a further development of Quantum Mechanics, Bohr's complementarity and Copenhagen Interpretation captured a more substantial convergence of the subsequently revised (in light of the experimental results) Wave and Matrix Mechanics. I argue that both the equivalence and Copenhagen Interpretation can be deemed myths if one predicates the philosophical and historical analysis on a narrow model of physical theory which disregards its historical context, and focuses exclusively on its formal aspects and the exploration of the logical models supposedly implicit in it. (shrink)
This article considers two important traditions concerning the chemical elements. The first is the meaning of the term “element” including the distinctions between element as basic substance, as simple substance and as combined simple substance. In addition to briefly tracing the historical development of these distinctions, I make comments on the recent attempts to clarify the fundamental notion of element as basic substance for which I believe the term “element” is best reserved. This discussion has focused on the writings of (...) Fritz Paneth which are here analyzed from a new perspective. The other tradition concerns the reduction of chemistry to quantum mechanics and an understanding of chemical elements through their microscopic components such as protons, neutrons and electrons. I claim that the use of electronic configurations has still not yet settled the question of the placement of several elements and discuss an alternative criterion based on maximizing triads of elements. I also point out another possible limitation to the reductive approach, namely the failure, up to now, to obtain a derivation of the Madelung rule. Mention is made of some recent similarity studies which could be used to clarify the nature of ‘elements’. Although it has been suggested that the notion of element as basic substance should be considered in terms of fundamental particles like protons and electrons, I resist this move and conclude that the quantum mechanical tradition has not had much impact on the question of what is an element which remains an essentially philosophical issue. (shrink)
Bohmian mechanics faces an underdetermination problem: when it comes to solving the measurement problem, alternatives to the Bohmian guidance equation work just as well as the official guidance equation. One way to argue that the guidance equation is superior to its rivals is to use a symmetry argument: of the candidate guidance equations, the official guidance equation is the simplest Galilean-invariant candidate. This symmetry argument---if it worked---would solve the underdetermination problem. But the argument does not work. It fails because (...) it rests on assumptions about how Galilean transformations (especially boosts) act on the wavefunction that are (in this context) unwarranted. My discussion has larger morals about the physical significance of certain mathematical results (like, for example, Wigner's theorem) in non-orthodox interpretations of quantum mechanics. (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)
This paper analyses Richard Bader’s ‘operational’ view of quantum mechanics and the role it plays in the the explanation of chemistry. I argue that QTAIM can partially be reconstructed as an ‘austere’ form of quantum mechanics, which is in turn committed to an eliminative concept of reduction that stems from Kemeny and Oppenheim. As a reductive theory in this sense, the theory fails. I conclude that QTAIM has both a regulatory and constructive function in the theories of chemistry.
A recent rethinking of the early history of Quantum Mechanics deemed the late 1920s agreement on the equivalence of Matrix Mechanics and Wave Mechanics, prompted by Schrödinger’s 1926 proof, a myth. Schrödinger supposedly failed to achieve the goal of proving isomorphism of the mathematical structures of the two theories, while only later developments in the early 1930s, especially the work of mathematician John von Neumman (1932) provided sound proof of equivalence. The alleged agreement about the Copenhagen Interpretation, (...) predicated to a large extent on this equivalence, was deemed a myth as well. If such analysis is correct, it provides considerable evidence that, in its critical moments, the foundations of scientific practice might not live up to the minimal standards of rigor, as such standards are established in the practice of logic, mathematics, and mathematical physics, thereby prompting one to question the rationality of the practice of physics. In response, I argue that Schrödinger’s proof concerned primarily a domain-specific ontological equivalence, rather than the isomorphism. It stemmed initially from the agreement of the eigenvalues of Wave Mechanics and energy-states of Bohr’s Model that was discovered and published by Schrödinger in his First and Second Communications of 1926. Schrödinger demonstrated in this proof that the laws of motion arrived at by the method of Matrix Mechanics could be derived successfully from eigenfunctions as well (while he only outlined the reversed derivation of eigenfunctions from Matrix Mechanics, which was necessary for the proof of isomorphism of the two theories). This result was intended to demonstrate the domain-specific ontological equivalence of Matrix Mechanics and Wave Mechanics, with respect to the domain of Bohr’s atom. And although the full-fledged mathematico-logical equivalence of the theories did not seem out of the reach of existing theories and methods, Schrödinger never intended to fully explore such a possibility in his proof paper. In a further development of Quantum Mechanics, Bohr’s complementarity and Copenhagen Interpretation captured a more substantial convergence of the subsequently revised (in light of the experimental results) Wave and Matrix Mechanics. I argue that both the equivalence and Copenhagen Interpretation can be deemed myths if one predicates the philosophical and historical analysis on a narrow model of physical theory which disregards its historical context, and focuses exclusively on its formal aspects and the exploration of the logical models supposedly implicit in it. (shrink)
This paper investigates the kind of empiricism combined with an operationalist perspective that, in the first decades of our Century, gave rise to a turning point in theoretical physics and in probability theory. While quantum mechanics was taking shape, the classical (Laplacian) interpretation of probability gave way to two divergent perspectives: frequentism and subjectivism. Frequentism gained wide acceptance among theoretical physicists. Subjectivism, on the other hand, was never held to be a serious candidate for application to physical theories, despite (...) the fact that its philosophical back-ground strongly resembles that underlying quantum mechanics, at least according to the Copenhagen interpretation. The reasons for this are explored. (shrink)
The transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics, following the time-symmetric formulation of electrodynamics, uses retarded and advanced solutions of the Schrödinger equation and its complex conjugate to understand quantum phenomena by means of transactions. A transaction occurs between an emitter and a specific absorber when the emitter has received advanced waves from all possible absorbers. Advanced causation always raises the specter of paradoxes, and it must be addressed carefully. In particular, different devices involving contingent absorbers or various types of interaction-free (...) measurements have been proposed as threatening the original version of the transactional interpretation. These proposals will be analyzed by examining in each case the configuration of absorbers and, in the special case of the so-called quantum liar experiment, by carefully following the development of retarded and advanced waves through the Mach-Zehnder interferometer. We will show that there is no need to resort to the hierarchy of transactions that some have proposed, and will argue that the transactional interpretation is consistent with the block-universe picture of time. (shrink)
The paper address the question of whether quantum mechanics (QM) favors Priority Monism, the view according to which the Universe is the only fundamental object. It develops formal frameworks to frame rigorously the question of fundamental mereology and its answers, namely (Priority) Pluralism and Monism. It then reconstructs the quantum mechanical argument in favor of the latter and provides a detailed and thorough criticism of it that sheds furthermore new light on the relation between parthood, composition and fundamentality in (...) QM. (shrink)
In the area of the foundations of quantum mechanics a true industry appears to have developed in the last decades, with the aim of proving as many results as possible concerning what there cannot be in the quantum realm. In principle, the significance of proving ‘no-go’ results should consist in clarifying the fundamental structure of the theory, by pointing out a class of basic constraints that the theory itself is supposed to satisfy. In the present paper I will discuss (...) some more recent no-go claims and I will argue against the deep significance of these results, with a two-fold strategy. First, I will consider three results concerning respectively local realism, quantum covariance and predictive power in quantum mechanics, and I will try to show how controversial the main conditions of the negative theorem turn out to be—something that strongly undermines the general relevance of these theorems. Second, I will try to discuss what I take to be a common feature of these theoretical enterprises, namely that of aiming at establishing negative results for quantum mechanics in absence of a deeper understanding of the overall ontological content and structure of the theory. I will argue that the only way toward such an understanding may be to cast in advance the problems in a clear and well-defined interpretational framework—which in my view means primarily to specify the ontology that quantum theory is supposed to be about—and after to wonder whether problems that seemed worth pursuing still are so in the framework. (shrink)
The fundamental concept of structured chemical system has been introduced and analysed in this paper. This concept, as in biology but not in physics, is very important in chemistry. In fact, the main chemical concepts (molecule and compound) have been identified as systemic concepts and their use in chemical explanation can only be justified in this approach. The fundamental concept of “environment” has been considered and then the system concept in mechanics, chemistry and biology. The differences and the analogies (...) between the use of the systemic approach in these disciplines have been analyzed and correlated to the general problem of reductionism and complexity perspectives. The inanimate–animate dichotomy can be reconsidered in this new approach. Since the chemical systemic concepts of molecule and compound can be dated to the nineteenth century, chemistry can be considered the first true systemic science and its historical evolution can be a model for other sciences (such as the humanities) where the systemic concepts are important. (shrink)
Different conceptions on reality in physics and philosophy in the 20th century have been analyzed in the article. These approaches caused the necessity to study the multitude of the worlds. The author proved that multiworld interpretation of quantum mechanics and multitude of the worlds in the Goodman's conception are opposite tendencies. Everett and his followers consider the quantum world as some universal reality whereas Goodman and his supporters do not believe in universal reality.
A time-symmetric formulation of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics is developed by applying two consecutive boundary conditions onto solutions of a time- symmetrized wave equation. From known probabilities in ordinary quantum mechanics, a time-symmetric parameter P0 is then derived that properly weights the likelihood of any complete sequence of measurement outcomes on a quantum system. The results appear to match standard quantum mechanics, but do so without requiring a time-asymmetric collapse of the wavefunction upon measurement, thereby realigning quantum (...) class='Hi'>mechanics with an important fundamental symmetry. (shrink)
The use of real clocks and measuring rods in quantum mechanics implies a natural loss of unitarity in the description of the theory. We briefly review this point and then discuss the implications it has for the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. The intrinsic loss of coherence allows to circumvent some of the usual objections to the measurement process as due to environmental decoherence.
Koopman-von Neumann in the 30’s gave an operatorial formulation of Classical Mechanics. It was shown later on that this formulation could also be written in a path-integral form. We will label this functional approach as CPI (for classical path-integral) to distinguish it from the quantum mechanical one, which we will indicate with QPI. In the CPI two Grassmannian partners of time make their natural appearance and in this manner time becomes something like a three dimensional supermanifold. Next we introduce (...) a metric in this supermanifold and show that a particular choice of the supermetric reproduces the CPI while a different one gives the QPI. (shrink)