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  1. A Dilemma for the Emergence of Spacetime in Canonical Quantum Gravity.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):286-293.
    The procedures of canonical quantization of the gravitational field apparently lead to entities for which any interpretation in terms of spatio-temporal localization or spatio-temporal extension seems difficult. This fact is the main ground for the suggestion that can often be found in the physics literature on canonical quantum gravity according to which spacetime may not be fundamental in some sense. This paper aims to investigate this radical suggestion from an ontologically serious point of view in the cases of two standard (...)
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  • What the Humean Should Say About Entanglement.Harjit Bhogal & Zee Perry - 2017 - Noûs 51 (1):74-94.
    Tim Maudlin has influentially argued that Humeanism about laws of nature stands in conflict with quantum mechanics. Specifically Humeanism implies the principle Separability: the complete physical state of a world is determined by the intrinsic physical state of each space-time point. Maudlin argues Separability is violated by the entangled states posited by QM. We argue that Maudlin only establishes that a stronger principle, which we call Strong Separability, is in tension with QM. Separability is not in tension with QM. Moreover, (...)
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  • Realism About the Wave Function.Eddy Keming Chen - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (7).
    A century after the discovery of quantum mechanics, the meaning of quantum mechanics still remains elusive. This is largely due to the puzzling nature of the wave function, the central object in quantum mechanics. If we are realists about quantum mechanics, how should we understand the wave function? What does it represent? What is its physical meaning? Answering these questions would improve our understanding of what it means to be a realist about quantum mechanics. In this survey article, I review (...)
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  • Scientific Realism and Primitive Ontology Or: The Pessimistic Induction and the Nature of the Wave Function.Valia Allori - 2018 - Lato Sensu 1 (5):69-76.
    In this paper I wish to connect the recent debate in the philosophy of quantum mechanics concerning the nature of the wave function to the historical debate in the philosophy of science regarding the tenability of scientific realism. Being realist about quantum mechanics is particularly challenging when focusing on the wave function. According to the wave function ontology approach, the wave function is a concrete physical entity. In contrast, according to an alternative viewpoint, namely the primitive ontology approach, the wave (...)
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  • Can Everett Be Interpreted Without Extravaganza?Louis Marchildon - 2011 - Foundations of Physics 41 (3):357-362.
    Everett’s relative states interpretation of quantum mechanics has met with problems related to probability, the preferred basis, and multiplicity. The third theme, I argue, is the most important one. It has led to developments of the original approach into many-worlds, many-minds, and decoherence-based approaches. The latter especially have been advocated in recent years, in an effort to understand multiplicity without resorting to what is often perceived as extravagant constructions. Drawing from and adding to arguments of others, I show that proponents (...)
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  • Quantum Mechanics in a Time-Asymmetric Universe: On the Nature of the Initial Quantum State.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy068.
    In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, we postulate a low-entropy boundary condition to account for the temporal asymmetry. In this paper, I show that the Past Hypothesis also contains enough information to simplify the quantum ontology and define a unique initial condition in such a world. First, I introduce Density Matrix Realism, the thesis that the quantum universe is described by a fundamental density matrix that represents something objective. This stands in sharp contrast to Wave Function (...)
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  • Epistemology of Wave Function Collapse in Quantum Physics.Charles Wesley Cowan & Roderich Tumulka - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):405-434.
    Among several possibilities for what reality could be like in view of the empirical facts of quantum mechanics, one is provided by theories of spontaneous wave function collapse, the best known of which is the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory. We show mathematically that in GRW theory there are limitations to knowledge, that is, inhabitants of a GRW universe cannot find out all the facts true of their universe. As a specific example, they cannot accurately measure the number of collapses that a given (...)
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  • Typical: A Theory of Typicality and Typicality Explanation.Isaac Wilhelm - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz016.
    Typicality is routinely invoked in everyday contexts: bobcats are typically short-tailed; people are typically less than seven feet tall. Typicality is invoked in scientific contexts as well: typical gases expand; typical quantum systems exhibit probabilistic behaviour. And typicality facts like these support many explanations, both quotidian and scientific. But what is it for something to be typical? And how do typicality facts explain? In this paper, I propose a general theory of typicality. I analyse the notion of a typical property. (...)
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  • Multiplicity in Everett׳s Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Louis Marchildon - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):274-284.
  • Quantum Mechanics as Classical Physics.Charles T. Sebens - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (2):266-291.
    Here I explore a novel no-collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics that combines aspects of two familiar and well-developed alternatives, Bohmian mechanics and the many-worlds interpretation. Despite reproducing the empirical predictions of quantum mechanics, the theory looks surprisingly classical. All there is at the fundamental level are particles interacting via Newtonian forces. There is no wave function. However, there are many worlds.
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  • Time's Arrow in a Quantum Universe: On the Status of Statistical Mechanical Probabilities.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Valia Allori (ed.), Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature. World Scientific.
    In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, it is standard to postulate that the initial wave function started in a particular macrostate---the special low-entropy macrostate selected by the Past Hypothesis. Moreover, there is an additional postulate about statistical mechanical probabilities according to which the initial wave function is a ''typical'' choice in the macrostate. Together, they support a probabilistic version of the Second Law of Thermodynamics: typical initial wave functions will increase in entropy. Hence, there are two (...)
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  • Can We Quarantine the Quantum Blight?Craig Callender - manuscript
    In the science fiction novel Quarantine, Greg Egan imagines a universe where interactions with human observers collapse quantum wavefunctions. Aliens, unable to collapse wavefunctions, tire of being slaughtered by these collapses. In response they erect an impenetrable shield around the solar system, protecting the rest of the universe from human interference and locking humanity into a starless Bubble. When confronting scientific realism and the quantum, many philosophers try to do the theoretical counterpart of this fictional practical strategy. Quantum mechanics is (...)
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  • A Dilemma For The Emergence Of Spacetime In Canonical Quantum Gravity.Vincent Lam & Michael Esfeld - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):286-293.
    The procedures of canonical quantization of the gravitational field apparently lead to entities for which any interpretation in terms of spatio-temporal localization or spatio-temporal extension seems difficult. This fact is the main ground for the suggestion that can often be found in the physics literature on canonical quantum gravity according to which spacetime may not be fundamental in some sense. This paper aims to investigate this radical suggestion from an ontologically serious point of view in the cases of two standard (...)
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  • Killer Collapse: Empirically Probing the Philosophically Unsatisfactory Region of GRW.Charles Sebens - 2015 - Synthese 192 (8):2599-2615.
    GRW theory offers precise laws for the collapse of the wave function. These collapses are characterized by two new constants, \ and \ . Recent work has put experimental upper bounds on the collapse rate, \ . Lower bounds on \ have been more controversial since GRW begins to take on a many-worlds character for small values of \ . Here I examine GRW in this odd region of parameter space where collapse events act as natural disasters that destroy branches (...)
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  • Predictions and Primitive Ontology in Quantum Foundations: A Study of Examples.Valia Allori, Sheldon Goldstein, Roderich Tumulka & Nino Zanghi - 2012 - 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 (...)
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  • How to Account for Quantum Non-Locality: Ontic Structural Realism and the Primitive Ontology of Quantum Physics.Michael Esfeld - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2329-2344.
    The paper has two aims: (1) it sets out to show that it is well motivated to seek for an account of quantum non-locality in the framework of ontic structural realism (OSR), which integrates the notions of holism and non-separability that have been employed since the 1980s to achieve such an account. However, recent research shows that OSR on its own cannot provide such an account. Against this background, the paper argues that by applying OSR to the primitive ontology theories (...)
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  • The Primitive Ontology of Quantum Physics: Guidelines for an Assessment of the Proposals.Michael Esfeld - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 47:99-106.
    The paper seeks to make progress from stating primitive ontology theories of quantum physics – notably Bohmian mechanics, the GRW matter density theory and the GRW flash theory – to assessing these theories. Four criteria are set out: internal coherence; empirical adequacy; relationship to other theories; explanatory value. The paper argues that the stock objections against these theories do not withstand scrutiny. Its focus then is on their explanatory value: they pursue different strategies to ground the textbook formalism of quantum (...)
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  • On the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics.Valia Allori - 2013 - In Soazig Lebihan (ed.), Precis de la Philosophie de la Physique. Vuibert.
    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 (...)
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  • How to Make Sense of Quantum Mechanics : Fundamental Physical Theories and Primitive Ontology.Valia Allori - manuscript
    Quantum mechanics has always been regarded as, at best, puzzling, if not contradictory. The aim of the paper is to explore a particular approach to fundamental physical theories, the one based on the notion of primitive ontology. This approach, when applied to quantum mechanics, makes it a paradox-free theory.
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  • Quantum Mechanics and Paradigm Shifts.Valia Allori - 2015 - Topoi 34 (2):313-323.
    It has been argued that the transition from classical to quantum mechanics is an example of a Kuhnian scientific revolution, in which there is a shift from the simple, intuitive, straightforward classical paradigm, to the quantum, convoluted, counterintuitive, amazing new quantum paradigm. In this paper, after having clarified what these quantum paradigms are supposed to be, I analyze whether they constitute a radical departure from the classical paradigm. Contrary to what is commonly maintained, I argue that, in addition to radical (...)
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  • An Ontology of Nature with Local Causality, Parallel Lives, and Many Relative Worlds.Mordecai Waegell - 2018 - Foundations of Physics 48 (12):1698-1730.
    Parallel lives is an ontological model of nature in which quantum mechanics and special relativity are unified in a single universe with a single space-time. Point-like objects called lives are the only fundamental objects in this space-time, and they propagate at or below c, and interact with one another only locally at point-like events in space-time, very much like classical point particles. Lives are not alive in any sense, nor do they possess consciousness or any agency to make decisions—they are (...)
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