We argue that current constructive approaches to the special theory of relativity do not derive the geometrical Minkowski structure from the dynamics but rather assume it. We further argue that in current physics there can be no dynamical derivation of primitive geometrical notions such as length. By this we believe we continue an argument initiated by Einstein.
"Maxwell's Demon", the famous thought experiment of James Clerk Maxwell, has been devised in 1867 as a counter example for the Second Law of thermodynamics. During the 140 years since the Demon was first suggested, numerous attempts have been made to counter Maxwell's argument. The attempts have been to show that Maxwell was wrong, since his Demon cannot work for one reason or another (see Leff and Rex 2003 for details and references). In this paper we show (following an argument (...) by Albert 2000, Ch. 5.) that Maxwell was basically right, in the sense that his thought experiment is compatible with the laws of mechanics as well as with central principles of statistical mechanics. We then derive some (weak) restrictions on the Demon's efficiency. Finally, we prove that the Demon's cycle of operation can be completed (in particular, the Demon's memory can be erased) without increasing the total entropy of the universe. We draw some conclusions about the way to understand the meaning and role of probability in classical statistical mechanics. (shrink)
We discuss the meaning of probabilities in the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. We start by presenting very briefly the many worlds theory, how the problem of probability arises, and some unsuccessful attempts to solve it in the past. Then we criticize a recent attempt by Deutsch to derive the quantum mechanical probabilities from the nonprobabilistic parts of quantum mechanics and classical decision theory. We further argue that the Born probability does not make sense even as an additional probability (...) rule in the many worlds theory. Our conclusion is that the many worlds theory fails to account for the probabilistic statements of standard (collapse) quantum mechanics. (shrink)
A remarkable theorem by Clifton, Bub and Halvorson (2003) (CBH) characterizes quantum theory in terms of information--theoretic principles. According to Bub (2004, 2005) the philosophical significance of the theorem is that quantum theory should be regarded as a ``principle'' theory about (quantum) information rather than a ``constructive'' theory about the dynamics of quantum systems. Here we criticize Bub's principle approach arguing that if the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics remains intact then there is no escape route from solving the measurement (...) problem by constructive theories. We further propose a (Wigner--type) thought experiment that we argue demonstrates that quantum mechanics on the information--theoretic approach is incomplete. (shrink)
In this paper we address two problems in Boltzmann's approach to statistical mechanics. The first is the justification of the probabilistic predictions of the theory. And the second is the inadequacy of the theory's retrodictions.
Abstract Von Neumann (1932, Ch. 5) argued by means of a thought experiment involving measurements of spin observables that the quantum mechanical quantity is conceptually equivalent to thermodynamic entropy. We analyze Von Neumann's thought experiment and show that his argument fails. Over the past few years there has been a dispute in the literature regarding the Von Neumann entropy. It turns out that each contribution to this dispute (Shenker 1999, Henderson 2001, Hemmo 2003) addressed a different special case. In this (...) paper we generalize the discussion and examine the full matrix of possibilities that are relevant for the evaluation and understanding of Von Neumann’s argument. (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)
In a previous paper (Hemmo and Shenker 2003) we discussed a recent proposal by Albert (2000, Ch. 7) to recover thermodynamics on a purely dynamical basis, using the quantum theory of the collapse of the quantum state of Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber (1986). We proposed an alternative way to explain thermodynamics within no collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics. In this paper some difficulties faced by both approaches are discussed and solved: the spin echo experiments, and the problem of extremely light (...) gases. In these contexts, we point out several ways in which the above quantum mechanical approaches as well as some other classical approaches to the foundations of statistical mechanics may be distinguished experimentally. (shrink)
Recent no go theorems by Dickson and Clifton (1998), Arntzenius (1998) and Myrvold (2002) demonstrate that current modal interpretations are incompatible with relativity. In this paper we propose strategies for how to circumvent these theorems. We further show how these strategies can be developped into new modal interpretations in which the properties of systems are in general either holistic or relational. We explicitly write down an outline of dynamics for these properties which does not pick out a preferred foliation of (...) spacetime. (shrink)
I argue that in the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics time has no fundamental direction. I further discuss a way to recover thermodynamics in this interpretation using decoherence theory (Zurek and Paz 1994). Albert's proposal to recover thermodynamics from the collapse theory of Ghirardi et al. (1986) is also considered.
We argue that certain types of many minds (and many worlds) interpretations of quantum mechanics, e.g. Lockwood ([1996a]), Deutsch () do not provide a coherent interpretation of the quantum mechanical probabilistic algorithm. By contrast, in Albert and Loewer's () version of the many minds interpretation, there is a coherent interpretation of the quantum mechanical probabilities. We consider Albert and Loewer's probability interpretation in the context of Bell-type and GHZ-type states and argue that it implies a certain (weak) form of nonlocality. (...) 1 Introduction 2 Albert and Loewer's interpretation 3 Probabilities in Lockwood's interpretation 4 Sets of minds and their correlations 5 Many minds and GHZ. (shrink)
We discuss a recent proposal by Albert (1994a; 1994b; 2000, ch. 7) to recover thermodynamics on a purely dynamical basis, using the quantum theory of the collapse of the wave function by Ghirardi, Rimini, and Weber (1986). We propose an alternative way to explain thermodynamics within no-collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics. Our approach relies on the standard quantum mechanical models of environmental decoherence of open systems (e.g., Joos and Zeh 1985; Zurek and Paz 1994). This paper presents the two approaches (...) and discusses their advantages. The problems faced by both approaches will be discussed in a sequel (Hemmo and Shenker 2003). (shrink)
We discuss a recent proposal by Albert (1994a,b; 2000, Chapter 7) to recover thermodynamics on a purely dynamical basis, using the quantum theory of the collapse of the wave function of Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber (1986). We propose an alternative way to explain thermodynamics within no-collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics. Our approach relies on the standard quantum mechanical models of environmental decoherence of open systems, \eg Joos and Zeh (1985) and Zurek and Paz (1994). This paper presents the two approaches (...) and discusses their advantages. The problems they face will be discussed in a sequel (Hemmo and Shenker 2002b). (shrink)
An outline for a modal interpretation in terms of possible worlds is presented. The so-called Schmidt histories are taken to correspond to the physically possible worlds. The decoherence function defined in the histories formulation of quantum theory is taken to prescribe a non-classical probability measure over the set of the possible worlds. This is shown to yield dynamics in the form of transition probabilities for occurrent events in each world. The role of the consistency condition is discussed.
In realistic situations where a macroscopic system interacts with an external environment, decoherence of the quantum state, as derived in the decoherence approach, is only approximate. We argue that this can still give rise to facts, provided that during the decoherence process states that are, respectively, always close to eigenvectors of pointer position and record observable are correlated. We show in a model that this is always the case.