Dispositions, relational properties and the quantum world

Abstract

In this paper I examine the role of dispositional properties in the most frequently discussed interpretations of non-relativistic quantum mechanics. After offering some motivation for this project, I briefly characterize the distinction between non-dispositional and dispositional properties in the context of quantum mechanics by suggesting a necessary condition for dispositionality – namely contextuality – and, consequently, a sufficient condition for non-dispositionality, namely non-contextuality. Having made sure that the distinction is conceptually sound, I then analyze the plausibility of the widespread, monistic ontological thesis about the reducibility of dispositional properties to categorical properties in the context of the philosophy of quantum mechanics. I conclude that with the exception of Bohmian mechanics, the other “minimally realist” views of quantum mechanics require essential dispositions, i.e., dispositions of a non-reducible kind. Interestingly, seen behind the lenses of dispositionalism, Bohr’s and Bohm’s interpretations of quantum mechanics are much closer than it is usually recognized, a fact that could teach us something about the way the quantum world is.

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2009-01-28

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Mauro Dorato
Università degli Studi Roma Tre