About this topic
Summary The modal interpretation is a realist interpretation of quantum mechanics where the quantum state is taken to represent the possible values of certain observables. There are a wide variety of different modal interpretations, differing over which observables have determinate values under which conditions.
Key works Fraassen 1979 proposes the original modal interpretation. Dieks & Vermaas 1998 is a valuable anthology. Vermaas 1999 is a thorough study. Dieks 2007 is a recent survey article.
Introductions Lombardi & Dieks forthcoming
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69 found
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  1. The Minimal Modal Interpretation of Quantum Theory.Jacob Barandes & David Kagan - manuscript
    We introduce a realist, unextravagant interpretation of quantum theory that builds on the existing physical structure of the theory and allows experiments to have definite outcomes but leaves the theory’s basic dynamical content essentially intact. Much as classical systems have specific states that evolve along definite trajectories through configuration spaces, the traditional formulation of quantum theory permits assuming that closed quantum systems have specific states that evolve unitarily along definite trajectories through Hilbert spaces, and our interpretation extends this intuitive picture (...)
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  2. A Synopsis of the Minimal Modal Interpretation of Quantum Theory.Jacob Barandes & David Kagan - manuscript
    We summarize a new realist, unextravagant interpretation of quantum theory that builds on the existing physical structure of the theory and allows experiments to have definite outcomes but leaves the theory's basic dynamical content essentially intact. Much as classical systems have specific states that evolve along definite trajectories through configuration spaces, the traditional formulation of quantum theory permits assuming that closed quantum systems have specific states that evolve unitarily along definite trajectories through Hilbert spaces, and our interpretation extends this intuitive (...)
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  3. The Modal Interpretations of Quantum Theory.M. Dickson - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  4. Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Olimpia Lombardi & Dennis Dieks - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  5. Measurement and Quantum Dynamics in the Minimal Modal Interpretation of Quantum Theory.Jacob A. Barandes & David Kagan - 2020 - Foundations of Physics 50 (10):1189-1218.
    Any realist interpretation of quantum theory must grapple with the measurement problem and the status of state-vector collapse. In a no-collapse approach, measurement is typically modeled as a dynamical process involving decoherence. We describe how the minimal modal interpretation closes a gap in this dynamical description, leading to a complete and consistent resolution to the measurement problem and an effective form of state collapse. Our interpretation also provides insight into the indivisible nature of measurement—the fact that you can't stop a (...)
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  6. Interpreting the Modal Kochen–Specker Theorem: Possibility and Many Worlds in Quantum Mechanics.Christian de Ronde, Hector Freytes & Graciela Domenech - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 45:11-18.
    In this paper we attempt to physically interpret the Modal Kochen–Specker theorem. In order to do so, we analyze the features of the possible properties of quantum systems arising from the elements in an orthomodular lattice and distinguish the use of “possibility” in the classical and quantum formalisms. Taking into account the modal and many worlds non-collapse interpretation of the projection postulate, we discuss how the MKS theorem rules the constraints to actualization, and thus, the relation between actual and possible (...)
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  7. Reconstructing Bohr’s Reply to EPR in Algebraic Quantum Theory.Ozawa Masanao & Yuichiro Kitajima - 2012 - Foundations of Physics 42 (4):475-487.
    Halvorson and Clifton have given a mathematical reconstruction of Bohr’s reply to Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen, and argued that this reply is dictated by the two requirements of classicality and objectivity for the description of experimental data, by proving consistency between their objectivity requirement and a contextualized version of the EPR reality criterion which had been introduced by Howard in his earlier analysis of Bohr’s reply. In the present paper, we generalize the above consistency theorem, with a rather elementary proof, (...)
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  8. For and Against Metaphysics in the Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechancis.Christian de Ronde - 2010 - Philosophica 83:85-117.
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  9. Quantum Mechanics: Modal Interpretation and Galilean Transformations. [REVIEW]Juan Sebastian Ardenghi, Mario Castagnino & Olimpia Lombardi - 2009 - Foundations of Physics 39 (9):1023-1045.
    The aim of this paper is to consider in what sense the modal-Hamiltonian interpretation of quantum mechanics satisfies the physical constraints imposed by the Galilean group. In particular, we show that the only apparent conflict, which follows from boost-transformations, can be overcome when the definition of quantum systems and subsystems is taken into account. On this basis, we apply the interpretation to different well-known models, in order to obtain concrete examples of the previous conceptual conclusions. Finally, we consider the role (...)
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  10. Chasing Chimeras.Wayne C. Myrvold - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):635-646.
    Earman and Ruetsche ([2005]) have cast their gaze upon existing no-go theorems for relativistic modal interpretations, and have found them inconclusive. They suggest that it would be more fruitful to investigate modal interpretations proposed for "really relativistic theories," that is, algebraic relativistic quantum field theories. They investigate the proposal of Clifton ([2000]), and extend Clifton's result that, for a host of states, his proposal yields no definite observables other than multiples of the identity. This leads Earman and Ruetsche to a (...)
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  11. Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Michael Dickson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  12. A Modal-Hamiltonian Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Olimpia Lombardi & Mario Castagnino - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (2):380-443.
    The aim of this paper is to introduce a new member of the family of the modal interpretations of quantum mechanics. In this modal-Hamiltonian interpretation, the Hamiltonian of the quantum system plays a decisive role in the property-ascription rule that selects the definite-valued observables whose possible values become actual. We show that this interpretation is effective for solving the measurement problem, both in its ideal and its non-ideal versions, and we argue for the physical relevance of the property-ascription rule by (...)
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  13. Probability in Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Dennis Dieks - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38 (2):292-310.
    Modal interpretations have the ambition to construe quantum mechanics as an objective, man-independent description of physical reality. Their second leading idea is probabilism: quantum mechanics does not completely fix physical reality but yields probabilities. In working out these ideas an important motif is to stay close to the standard formalism of quantum mechanics and to refrain from introducing new structure by hand. In this paper we explain how this programme can be made concrete. In particular, we show that the Born (...)
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  14. Probability in Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Dennis Dieks - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38 (2):292-310.
    Modal interpretations have the ambition to construe quantum mechanics as an objective, man-independent description of physical reality. Their second leading idea is probabilism: quantum mechanics does not completely fix physical reality but yields probabilities. In working out these ideas an important motif is to stay close to the standard formalism of quantum mechanics and to refrain from introducing new structure by hand. In this paper we explain how this programme can be made concrete. In particular, we show that the Born (...)
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  15. Do Quantum-Mechanical Systems Always Possess Definite Properties Dictated by Their States?Tomasz Bigaj - 2006 - Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 91 (1):375-394.
    In the article the possibility of breaking the eigenvalue-eigenstate link in quantum mechanics is considered. An argument is presented to the effect that there are some non-maximal observables for which the implication from eigenstates to eigenvalues is not valid, i.e. such that although the probability of revealing certain value upon measurement is one, they don't possess this value before the measurement. It is shown that the existence of such observables leads to contextuality, i.e. the thesis that one Hermitean operator can (...)
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  16. Can Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics Be Reconciled with Relativity?Joseph Berkovitz & Meir Hemmo - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):789-801.
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  17. Relativistic Invariance and Modal Interpretations.John Earman & Laura Ruetsche - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (4):557-583.
    A number of arguments have been given to show that the modal interpretation of ordinary nonrelativistic quantum mechanics cannot be consistently extended to the relativistic setting. We find these arguments inconclusive. However, there is a prima facie reason to think that a tension exists between the modal interpretation and relativistic invariance; namely, the best candidate for a modal interpretation adapted to relativistic quantum field theory, a prescription due to Rob Clifton, comes out trivial when applied to a number of systems (...)
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  18. Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics in Terms of Beable Algebras.Yuichiro Kitajima - 2005 - International Journal of Theoretical Physics 44 (8):1141-1156.
    In terms of beable algebras Halvorson and Clifton [International Journal of Theoretical Physics 38 (1999) 2441–2484] generalized the uniqueness theorem (Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 27 (1996) 181–219] which characterizes interpretations of quantum mechanics by preferred observables. We examine whether dispersion-free states on beable algebras in the generalized uniqueness theorem can be regarded as truth-value assignments in the case where a preferred observable is the set of all spectral projections of a density operator, and in the case (...)
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  19. Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity: A Reconsideration. [REVIEW]Joseph Berkovitz & Meir Hemmo - 2004 - Foundations of Physics 35 (3):373-397.
    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 (...)
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  20. Lorentz-Invariance in Modal Interpretations.with Michael Dickson - 2004 - In Jeremy Butterfield & Hans Halvorson (eds.), Quantum Entanglements: Selected Papers. Clarendon Press.
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  21. The Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics: Modal Interpretations.Stuart Murray Gluck - 2004 - Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University
    This dissertation begins with the argument that a preferred way of doing metaphysics is through philosophy of physics. An understanding of quantum physics is vital to answering questions such as: What counts as an individual object in physical ontology? Is the universe fundamentally indeterministic? Are indiscernibles identical? This study explores how the various modal interpretations of quantum mechanics answer these sorts of questions; modal accounts are one of the two classes of interpretations along with so-called collapse accounts. This study suggests (...)
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  22. A Remark on the Modal Interpretation of Algebraic Quantum Field Theory.Yuichiro Kitajima - 2004 - Physics Letters A 331 (3-4):181-186.
    Clifton determined the maximal beable algebra for each faithful normal state in a local algebra [Phys. Lett. A 271 (2000) 167, Proposition 1]. In the present Letter we will determine the maximal beable algebra for any normal state under the same conditions as Clifton's.
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  23. Modal Semantics, Modal Dynamics and the Problem of State Preparation.Laura Ruetsche - 2003 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (1):25 – 41.
    It has been suggested that the Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (QM) is "incomplete" if it lacks a dynamics for possessed values. I argue that this is only one of two possible attitudes one might adopt toward a Modal Interpretation without dynamics. According to the other attitude, such an interpretation is a complete interpretation of QM as standardly formulated, an interpretation whose innovation is to attempt to make sense of the quantum realm without the expedient of novel physics. Then I (...)
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  24. Modal Interpretations.Pieter E. Vermaas - 2003 - In A. Rojszczak, J. Cachro & G. Kurczewski (eds.), Philosophical Dimensions of Logic and Science. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 195--211.
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  25. Modal Interpretations and Relativity.Wayne C. Myrvold - 2002 - Foundations of Physics 32 (11):1773-1784.
    A proof is given, at a greater level of generality than previous 'no-go' theorems, of the impossibility of formulating a modal interpretation that exhibits 'serious' Lorentz invariance at the fundamental level. Particular attention is given to modal interpretations of the type proposed by Bub.
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  26. A Philosopher's Understanding of Quantum Mechanics. Possibilities and Impossibilities of a Modal Interpretation.T. Placek - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 33 (4):739-744.
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  27. A Perspectival Version of the Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and the Origin of Macroscopic Behavior.Gyula Bene & Dennis Dieks - 2001 - Foundations of Physics 32 (5):645-671.
    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 (...)
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  28. The Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics - Dennis Dieks and Pieter E. Vermaas (Eds), the Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1998), VIII+377 Pp., ISBN 0-7923-5207-. [REVIEW]B. D'Espagnat - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (1):121-125.
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  29. The Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Bernard D’Espagnat - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (1):121-125.
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  30. A Philosopher's Understanding of Quantum Mechanics: Possibilities and Impossibilities of a Modal Interpretation Pieter Vermaas.Hans Halvorson - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2):387-391.
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  31. A Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics Based on a Principle of Entropy Minimization.R. W. Spekkens & J. E. Sipe - 2001 - Foundations of Physics 31 (10):1431-1464.
    Within many approaches to the interpretation of quantum mechanics, especially modal interpretations, one singles out a particular decomposition of the state vector in order to fix the properties that are well-defined for the system. We present a novel proposal for this preferred decomposition. Given a distinguished factorization of the Hilbert space, it is the decomposition that minimizes the Ingarden–Urbanik entropy from among all product decompositions with respect to the distinguished factorization. We incorporate this choice of preferred decomposition into a framework (...)
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  32. Non-Orthogonal Core Projectors for Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.R. W. Spekkens & J. E. Sipe - 2001 - Foundations of Physics 31 (10):1403-1430.
    Modal interpretations constitute a particular approach to associating dynamical variables with physical systems in quantum mechanics. Given the “quantum logical” constraints that are typically adopted by such interpretations, only certain sets of variables can be taken to be simultaneously definite-valued, and only certain sets of values can be ascribed to these variables at a given time. Moreover, each allowable set of variables and values can be uniquely specified by a single “core” projector in the Hilbert space associated with the system. (...)
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  33. Reviews-A Philosopher's Understanding of Quantum Mechanics: Possibilities and Impossibilities of a Modal Interpretation.Pieter Vermaas & Hans Halvorson - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2):387-392.
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  34. Delocalized Properties in the Modal Interpretation of a Continuous Model of Decoherence.Guido Bacciagaluppi - 2000 - Foundations of Physics 30 (9):1431-1444.
    I investigate the character of the definite properties defined by the Basic Rule in the Vermaas and Dieks' (1995) version of the modal interpretation of quantum mechanics, specifically for the case of the continuous model of decoherence by Joos and Zeh (1985). While this model suggests that the characteristic length that might be associated with the localisation of an individual system is the coherence length of the state (which converges rapidly to the thermal de Broglie wavelength), I show in an (...)
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  35. Revised Proof of the Uniqueness Theorem for ‘No Collapse’ Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Jeffrey Bub, Rob Clifton & Sheldon Goldstein - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 31 (1):95-98.
    We show that the Bub-Clifton uniqueness theorem (1996) for 'no collapse' interpretations of quantum mechanics can be proved without the 'weak separability' assumption.
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  36. Review of Quantum Measurement: Beyond Paradox. [REVIEW]Douglas Kutach - 2000 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (4):947-951.
    Book Review of Quantum measurement: Beyond paradox.
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  37. Dynamics for Modal Interpretations.Guido Bacciagaluppi & Michael Dickson - 1999 - Foundations of Physics 29 (8):1165-1201.
    An outstanding problem in so-called modal interpretations of quantum mechanics has been the specification of a dynamics for the properties introduced in such interpretations. We develop a general framework (in the context of the theory of stochastic processes) for specifying a dynamics for interpretations in this class, focusing on the modal interpretation by Vermaas and Dieks. This framework admits many empirically equivalent dynamics. We give some examples, and discuss some of the properties of one of them. This approach is applicable (...)
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  38. Virtual Reality: Consequences of No-Go Theorems for the Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Guido Bacciagaluppi & Pieter E. Vermaas - 1999 - In Maria Luisa Dalla Chiara (ed.), Language, Quantum, Music. pp. 117--128.
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  39. Maximal Beable Subalgebras of Quantum-Mechanical Observables.Hans Halvorson & Rob Clifton - 1999 - International Journal of Theoretical Physics 38:2441-2484.
    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 (...)
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  40. Van Fraassen and Ruetsche on Preparation and Measurement.Bradley Monton - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):91.
    Ruetsche (1996) has argued that van Fraassen's (1991) Copenhagen Variant of the Modal Interpretation (CVMI) gives unsatisfactory accounts of measurement and of state preparation. I defend the CVMI against Ruetsche's first argument by using decoherence to show that the CVMI does not need to account for the measurement scenario which Ruetsche poses. I then show, however, that there is a problem concerning preparation, and the problem is more serious than the one Ruetsche focuses on. The CVMI makes no substantive predictions (...)
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  41. Two No-Go Theorems for Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.E. P. - 1999 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 30 (3):403-431.
    Modal interpretations take quantum mechanics as a theory which assigns at all times definite values to magnitudes of quantum systems. In the case of single systems, modal interpretations manage to do so without falling prey to the Kochen and Specker no-go theorem, because they assign values only to a limited set of magnitudes. In this paper I present two further no-go theorems which prove that two modal interpretations become nevertheless problematic when applied to more than one system. The first theorem (...)
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  42. Two No-Go Theorems for Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Pieter E. Vermaas - 1999 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 30 (3):403-431.
    Modal interpretations take quantum mechanics as a theory which assigns at all times definite values to magnitudes of quantum systems. In the case of single systems, modal interpretations manage to do so without falling prey to the Kochen and Specker no-go theorem, because they assign values only to a limited set of magnitudes. In this paper I present two further no-go theorems which prove that two modal interpretations become nevertheless problematic when applied to more than one system. The first theorem (...)
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  43. Two No-Go Theorems for Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Pieter E. Vermaas - 1999 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 30 (3):403-431.
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  44. A Philosopher's Understanding of Quantum Mechanics: Possibilities and Impossibilities of a Modal Interpretation.Pieter E. Vermaas - 1999 - Cambridge University Press.
    This book is about how to understand quantum mechanics by means of a modal interpretation. Modal interpretations provide a general framework within which quantum mechanics can be considered as a theory that describes reality in terms of physical systems possessing definite properties. Quantum mechanics is standardly understood to be a theory about probabilities with which measurements have outcomes. Modal interpretations are relatively new attempts to present quantum mechanics as a theory which, like other physical theories, describes an observer-independent reality. In (...)
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  45. The Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Dennis Dieks & Pieter Vermaas - 1998 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
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  46. Modal Interpretation of Repeated Measurement: A Rejoinder to Leeds and Healey.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64 (4):669-676.
    A recent article argues that the modal interpretation of quantum mechanics does not do justice to immediately repeated non-disturbing measurements. This objection has been raised before, but the article presents it in a new, detailed, precise form. I show that the objection is mistaken.
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  47. Modal Interpretations, Decoherence and Measurements.Guido Bacciagaluppi & Meir Hemmo - 1996 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 27 (3):239-277.
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  48. A Uniqueness Theorem for ‘No Collapse’ Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Jeffrey Bub & Rob Clifton - 1996 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 27 (2):181-219.
    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 (...)
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  49. The Properties of Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Rob Clifton - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (3):371-398.
    Orthodox quantum mechanics includes the principle that an observable of a system possesses a well-defined value if and only if the presence of that value in the system is certain to be confirmed on measurement. Modal interpretations reject the controversial ‘only if’ half of this principle to secure definite outcomes for quantum measurements that leave the apparatus entangled with the object it has measured. However, using a result that turns on the construction of a Kochen–Specker contradiction, I argue that modal (...)
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  50. Logical Foundations for Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.Michael Dickson - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):329.
    This paper proposes a logic, motivated by modal interpretations, in which every quantum mechanics propositions has a truth-value. This logic is completely classical, hence violates the conditions of the Kochen-Specker theorem. It is shown how the violation occurs, and it is argued that this violation is a natural and acceptable consequence of modal interpretations. It is shown that despite its classicality, the proposed logic is empirically indistinguishable from quantum logic.
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