Decoherence: The View from the History and the Philosophy of Science

Abstract
We present a brief history of decoherence, from its roots in the foundations of classical statistical mechanics, to the current spin bath models in condensed matter physics. We analyze the philosophical import of the subject matter in three different foundational problems, and find that, contrary to the received view, decoherence is less instrumental to their solutions than it is commonly believed. What makes decoherence more philosophically interesting, we argue, are the methodological issues it draws attention to, and the question of the universality of quantum mechanics.
Keywords Decoherence  Quantum Mechanics  Thermodynamics  Statistical Mechanics
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