Relational quantum mechanics and the determinacy problem

Abstract

Carlo Rovelli's relational interpretation of quantum mechanics holds that a system's states or the values of its physical quantities as normally conceived only exist relative to a cut between a system and an observer or measuring instrument. Furthermore, on Rovelli's account, the appearance of determinate observations from pure quantum superpositions happens only relative to the interaction of the system and observer. Jeffrey Barrett ([1999]) has pointed out that certain relational interpretations suffer from what we might call the ‘determinacy problem', but Barrett misclassifies Rovelli's interpretation by lumping it in with Mermin's view, as Rovelli's view is quite different and has resources to escape the particular criticisms that Barrett makes of Mermin's view. Rovelli's interpretation still leaves us with a paradox having to do with the determinacy of measurement outcomes, which can be accepted only if we are willing to give up on certain elements of the ‘absolute’ view of the world

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Matthew J. Brown
University of Texas at Dallas

References found in this work

Is There a Fundamental Level?Jonathan Schaffer - 2003 - Noûs 37 (3):498–517.
Relational Quantum Mechanics.Carlo Rovelli - 1996 - International Journal of Theoretical Physics 35 (8):1637--1678.
Quantum Entanglement and a Metaphysics of Relations.Michael Esfeld - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (4):601-617.
Causal Structuralism.John Hawthorne - 2001 - In James Tomberlin (ed.), Metaphysics. Blackwell. pp. 361--78.

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Citations of this work

Open Problems in Relational Quantum Mechanics.Federico Laudisa - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (2):215-230.
Relational Quantum Mechanics.Federico Laudisa - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Can We Make Sense of Relational Quantum Mechanics?Quentin Ruyant - 2018 - Foundations of Physics 48 (4):440-455.

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