Quantum metaphysical indeterminacy

Philosophical Studies 176 (10):2599–2627 (2019)
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On many currently live interpretations, quantum mechanics violates the classical supposition of value definiteness, according to which the properties of a given particle or system have precise values at all times. Here we consider whether either metaphysical supervaluationist or determinable-based approaches to metaphysical indeterminacy can accommodate quantum metaphysical indeterminacy (QMI). We start by discussing the standard theoretical indicator of QMI, and distinguishing three seemingly different sources of QMI (S1). We then show that previous arguments for the conclusion that metaphysical supervaluationism cannot accommodate QMI, due to Darby 2010 and Skow 2010, are unsuccessful, in leaving open several supervaluationist responses. We go on to provide more comprehensive argumentation for the negative conclusion. Here, among other results, we establish that the problems for supervaluationism extend far beyond the concern that is the focus of Darby's and Skow's discussions (according to which a supervaluationist approach is incompatible with the orthodox interpretation, in light of the Kochen-Specker theorem) to also attach to common understandings of other interpretations on which there is QMI (S2). We then argue that a determinable-based account can successfully accommodate all three varieties of QMI (S3). We close by observing the positive mutual bearing of our results on the coherence and intelligibility of both quantum mechanics and metaphysical indeterminacy (S4).



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Author Profiles

Jessica M. Wilson
University of Toronto at Scarborough

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

The structure and interpretation of quantum mechanics.R. I. G. Hughes - 1989 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
A Theory of Metaphysical Indeterminacy.Elizabeth Barnes & J. Robert G. Williams - 2011 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics volume 6. Oxford University Press. pp. 103-148.

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