Foundations of Physics 19 (11):1397-1423 (1989)

Dennis Dieks
Utrecht University
It is widely held that quantum mechanics is the first scientific theory to present scientifically internal, fundamental difficulties for a realistic interpretation (in the philosophical sense). The standard (Copenhagen) interpretation of the quantum theory is often described as the inevitable instrumentalistic response. It is the purpose of the present article to argue that quantum theory doesnot present fundamental new problems to a realistic interpretation. The formalism of quantum theory has the same states—it will be argued—as the formalisms of older physical theories and is capable of the same kinds of philosophical interpretation. This result is reached via an analysis of what it means to give a realistic interpretation to a theory. The main point of difference between quantum mechanics and other theories—as far as the possibilities of interpretation are concerned—is the special treatment given tomeasurement by the “projection postulate.” But it is possible to do without this postulate. Moreover, rejection of the projection postulate does not, in spite of what is often maintained in the literature, automatically lead to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. A realistic interpretation is possible in which only the reality ofone (our) world is recognized. It is argued that the Copenhagen interpretation as expounded by Bohr is not in conflict with the here proposed realistic interpretation of quantum theory
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DOI 10.1007/BF00732760
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