Predictions and Primitive Ontology in Quantum Foundations: A Study of Examples

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 focussing on the role that the PO plays for extracting predictions from a given theory and discuss valid and invalid derivations of predictions. To this end, we investigate a number of examples based on toy models built from the elements of familiar interpretations of quantum theory.11 Introduction2 The GRWm and GRWf Theories2.1 The GRW process2.2 GRWm2.3 GRWf3 Predictions and Primitive Ontology3.1 Calibration functions3.2 Taking the PO seriously3.3 Examples from the literature3.4 The main theorem about operators in the GRW formalism3.5 The GRW formalism4 A Set of Examples4.1 Bohmian mechanics4.2 Bohmian trajectories and GRW collapses4.2.1 Bohm’s law and GRW’s law4.2.2 Bohm’s law and a modified GRW law4.2.3 Trajectories from the GRW wave function4.2.4 Configuration jumps and GRW law4.2.5 Another way of configuration jumps and GRW law4.3 MBM: Bohm-like trajectories from the master equation4.3.1 Empirical equivalence of MBM with GRWm and GRWf4.4 Master equation and matter density4.5 Master equation and flashes5 Conclusions
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Reprint years 2014
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axs048
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A Philosopher Looks at Quantum Mechanics (Again).Hilary Putnam - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):615-634.

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Four Tails Problems for Dynamical Collapse Theories.Kelvin J. McQueen - 2015 - Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 49:10-18.
The Physics and Metaphysics of Primitive Stuff.M. Esfeld, D. Lazarovici, V. Lam & M. Hubert - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):133-61.
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.

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