Quantum Mechanics

Edited by Michael Cuffaro (University of Western Ontario, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München)
Assistant editor: Radin Dardashti (Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München)
About this topic
Summary Issues in the philosophy of quantum mechanics include first and foremost, its interpretation. Probably the most well-known of these is the 'orthodox' Copenhagen interpretation associated with Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, John von Neumann, and others. Beginning roughly at the midway point of the previous century, philosophers' attention began to be drawn towards alternative interpretations of the theory, including Bohmian mechanics, the relative state formulation of quantum mechanics and its variants (i.e., DeWit's "many worlds" variant, Albert and Loewer's "many minds" variant, etc.), and the dynamical collapse family of theories. One particular interpretational issue that has attracted very much attention since the seminal work of John Bell, is the issue of the extent to which quantum mechanical systems do or do not admit of a local realistic description. Bell's investigation of the properties of entangled quantum systems, inspired by the famous thought experiment of Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, seems to lead one to the conclusion that the only realistic "hidden variables" interpretation compatible with the quantum mechanical formalism is a nonlocal one. In recent years, some of the attention has focused on applications of quantum mechanics and their potential for illuminating quantum foundations. These include the sciences of quantum information and quantum computation. Additional areas of research include philosophical investigation into the extensions of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics (such as quantum electrodynamics and quantum field theory more generally), as well as more formal logico-mathematical investigations into the structure of quantum states, state spaces, and their dynamics.
Key works Bohr 1928 and Heisenberg 1930 expound upon what has since become known as the 'Copenhagen interpretation' of quantum mechanics. The famous 'EPR' thought experiment of Einstein et al 1935 aims to show that quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory which should be supplemented by additional ('hidden') parameters. Bohr 1935 replies. More on Bohr's views can be found in Faye 1991, Folse 1985. Inspired by the EPR thought experiment, Bell 2004 [1964] proves what has since become known as "Bell's theorem." This, and a related result due to Kochen & Specker 1967 serve to revive the discussion of hidden variables and alternative interpretations of quantum mechanics. Jarrett 1984 analyses the key "factorisability" assumption Bell uses to derive his theorem into two distinct sub-assumptions, which Jarrett refers to as "locality" and "completeness". Two important volumes dedicated to the topics of entanglement and nonlocality are Cushing & McMullin 1989 and Maudlin 2002. Among the more discussed alternative interpretations of quantum mechanics are: Bohmian mechanics (Bohm 1952, and see also Cushing et al 1996), and Everett's relative state formulation (Everett Iii 1973). The latter gives rise to many variants, including the many worlds, many minds, and decoherence-based approaches (see Saunders et al 2010). Other notable interpretations and alternative theories include dynamical collapse theories (Ghirardi et al 1986), as well as the Copenhagen-inspired QBist view (Fuchs 2003, Fuchs manuscript). An attempt to axiomatize quantum mechanics in terms of information theoretic constraints, and a discussion of the relevance of this for the interpretation of quantum mechanics is given in Clifton et al 2003. Discussion of this and other issues in quantum information theory can be found in: Timpson 2004. Key works in the philosophy of quantum field theory include: Redhead 1995, Redhead 1994, Ruetsche 2011, Teller 1995.
Introductions Hughes 1989 is an excellent introduction to the formalism and interpretation of quantum mechanics. Albert 1992 is another, which focuses particularly on the problem of measurement in quantum mechanics.
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    We propose a theory for modeling concepts that uses the state-context-property theory (SCOP), a generalization of the quantum formalism, whose basic notions are states, contexts and properties. This theory enables us to incorporate context into the mathematical structure used to describe a concept, and thereby model how context influences the typicality of a single exemplar and the applicability of a single property of a concept. We introduce the notion `state of a concept' to account for this contextual influence, and show (...)
  8. The Optico-Mechanical Analogy: An Axiomatic Approach.Alexander Afriat - unknown
    An axiomatization of a ‘two-level Hamiltonian structure’ is proposed, which expresses the optico-mechanical analogy by representing optics and mechanics as different classes of models satisfying the axioms.
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    In general history and popular culture, the long 1960s, a period roughly beginning in the mid-1950s and ending in the mid-1970s, has been held to be a period of change. This paper offers a model which captures something of the long 1960s as a period of ‘sea change’ resulting from the interference of three waves. Wave One was an institutional dynamic that drew out experts from closed and hidden disagreement into situations where expert disagreement was open to public scrutiny. Wave (...)
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  11. Quantum Frames of Reference.Y. Aharonov & T. Kaufherr - 1984 - Physical Review D 30 (2):368--85.
  12. What is Ontic Structural Realism?Peter Mark Ainsworth - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (1):50-57.
  13. Scale Selection in Nonlinear Fracture Mechanics of Heterogeneous Materials.Ahmad Akbari Rahimabadi, Pierre Kerfriden & Stéphane Bordas - 2015 - Philosophical Magazine 95 (28-30):3328-3347.
  14. The Electronic and Optical Properties of a Triexciton in CdSe/ZnS Core/Shell Quantum Dot Nanocrystals.Abdurrahman Akturk, Hatice Tas, Koray Köksal & Mehmet Sahin - 2016 - Philosophical Magazine 96 (6):584-595.
  15. The Foundations of Quantum Mechanics and the Approach to Thermodynamic Equilibrium.David Z. Albert - 1994 - Erkenntnis 41 (2):191-206.
  16. Limits of Scientific Knowledge.John R. Albright - 2008 - In Paul David Numrich (ed.), The Boundaries of Knowledge in Buddhism, Christianity, and Science. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. pp. 15--184.
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  18. Microscopic and Macroscopic Quantum Realms.Moorad Alexanian - 2014 - Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 66 (2):127-128.
  19. Density Matrix Description of Fast and Slow Light Propagation in Sodium Vapour.Abu Mohamed Alhasan - 2009 - In Institute of Physics Krzysztof Stefanski (ed.), Open Systems and Information Dynamics. World Scientific Publishing Company. pp. 103-125.
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  21. Predictions and Primitive Ontology in Quantum Foundations: A Study of Examples.V. Allori, S. Goldstein, R. Tumulka & N. Zanghi - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (2):323-352.
    A major disagreement between different views about the foundations of quantum mechanics concerns whether for a theory to be intelligible as a fundamental physical theory it must involve a ‘primitive ontology’ (PO), i.e. variables describing the distribution of matter in four-dimensional space–time. In this article, we illustrate the value of having a PO. We do so by focusing on the role that the PO plays for extracting predictions from a given theory and discuss valid and invalid derivations of predictions. To (...)
  22. Space, Time, and (How They) Matter: A Discussion About Some Metaphysical Insights Provided by Our Best Fundamental Physical Theories.Valia Allori - 2016 - In G. C. Ghirardi & S. Wuppuluri (eds.), Space, Time, and The Limits of Human Understanding. Springer. pp. 95-107.
    This paper is a brief (and hopelessly incomplete) non-standard introduction to the philosophy of space and time. It is an introduction because I plan to give an overview of what I consider some of the main questions about space and time: Is space a substance over and above matter? How many dimensions does it have? Is space-time fundamental or emergent? Does time have a direction? Does time even exist? Nonetheless, this introduction is not standard because I conclude the discussion by (...)
  23. On the Classical Limit of Quantum Mechanics.Valia Allori & Nino Zanghì - 2009 - Foundations of Physics 39 (1):20-32.
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  26. “Shut The Front Door!”: Obviating the Challenge of Large-Scale Extra Dimensions and Psychophysical Bridging.Richard L. Amoroso - 2013 - In Richard L. Amoroso, Louis H. Kauffman & Peter Rowlands (eds.), The Physics of Reality: Space, Time, Matter, Cosmos. World Scientific Publishers. pp. 510-522.
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    A model of a new version of Zeno's arrow paradox is presented in a plausible extension of Newtonian collision mechanics. In exploring various avenues for resolution of the paradox, it becomes evident that a prerelativistic classical physical topology which is locally deterministic can mechanically generate nonclassical ontological properties such as the appearance of a particle in many places at once. It can also mimic some properties of quantum physics, including unprepared spatially-separated correlations. 1 Zeno's arrow paradox 2 Newtonian collision mechanics (...)
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  38. A New Perspective on the Philosophical Implications of Quantum Field Theory.D. Anselmi - 2003 - Synthese 135 (3):299-328.
    I discuss issues concerning the philosophical foundations and implications of quantum field theory, renormalization in particular. A new understanding of the correspondence principle, an unexpected role of perturbation theory and, most of all, a criterion to reduce the set of consistent theories from infinitely many to finitely many, are the key concepts of a theoretical set-up that appears to overcome in a natural way various consistency problems of quantum mechanics and offer several hints for further developments.
    In the last times some scholars tried to characterize Einstein’s distinction between ‘constructive’ – i.e. deductive - theories and ‘principle’ theories, the latter ones being preferred by Einstein. Here this distinction is qualified by an accurate inspection on past physical theories. Some previous theories are surely non-deductive theories. By a mutual comparison of them a set of features - mainly the arguing according to non-classical logic - are extracted. They manifest a new ideal model of organising a theory. Einstein’s paper (...)
  40. A Schism in Quantum Physics or How Locality May Be Salvaged.C. Antonopoulos - 1997 - Philosophia Naturalis 34 (1):33-69.
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  43. Making the Quantum of Relevance.Constantin Antonopoulos - 2005 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 36 (2):223-241.
    The two Heisenberg Uncertainties entail an incompatibility between the two pairs of conjugated variables E, t and p, q. But incompatibility comes in two kinds, exclusive of one another. There is incompatibility defineable as: & or defineable as [ & ] ↔ r. The former kind is unconditional, the latter conditional. The former, in accordance, is fact independent, and thus a matter of logic, the latter fact dependent, and thus a matter of fact. The two types are therefore diametrically opposed. (...)
  44. Bohr's Reply to EPR.Constantin Antonopoulos - 1997 - Idealistic Studies 27 (3):165-192.
  45. Time as Non-Observational Knowledge: How to Straighten Out Δeδt≥H.Constantin Antonopoulos - 1997 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 11 (2):165 – 183.
    The Energy-Time Uncertainty (ETU) has always been a problem-ridden relation, its problems stemming uniquely from the perplexing question of how to understand this mysterious Δ t . On the face of it (and, indeed, far deeper than that), we always know what time it is. Few theorists were ignorant of the fact that time in quantum mechanics is exogenously defined, in no ways intrinsically related to the system. Time in quantum theory is an independent parameter, which simply means independently known (...)
  46. The Production of Locality.Arjun Appadurai - 1995 - In Richard Fardon (ed.), Counterworks: Managing the Diversity of Knowledge. Routledge. pp. 204--225.
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  48. The Bell–Kochen–Specker Theorem.D. M. Appleby - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (1):1-28.
  49. The Bell–Kochen–Specker Theorem.D. M. Appleby - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (1):1-28.
  50. SICs and Algebraic Number Theory.Marcus Appleby, Steven Flammia, Gary McConnell & Jon Yard - 2017 - Foundations of Physics 47 (8):1042-1059.
    We give an overview of some remarkable connections between symmetric informationally complete measurements and algebraic number theory, in particular, a connection with Hilbert’s 12th problem. The paper is meant to be intelligible to a physicist who has no prior knowledge of either Galois theory or algebraic number theory.
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