Explanation, Emergence, and Quantum Entanglement

Philosophy of Science 72 (1):114-127 (2005)
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Abstract

This paper tries to get a grip on two seemingly conflicting intuitions about reductionism in quantum mechanics. On the one hand it is received wisdom that quantum mechanics puts an end to ‘reductionism’. Quantum-entanglement is responsible for such features of quantum mechanics as holism, the failure of supervenience and emergence. While I agree with these claims I will argue that it is only part of the story. Quantum mechanics provides us with thorough-going reductionist explanations. I will distinguish two kinds of micro-explanation (or micro-‘reduction’). I will argue that even though quantum-entanglement provides an example for the failure of one kind of micro-explanation it does not affect the other. Contrary to a recent paper by Kronz and Tiehen I claim that the explanation of the dynamics of quantum mechanical systems is just as reductionist as it used to be in classical mechanics.

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Andreas Hüttemann
University of Cologne

References found in this work

Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Mind and its Place in Nature.Charlie Dunbar Broad - 1925 - London, England: Routledge.
The Mind and its place in nature.C. D. Broad - 1925 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 103:145-146.
How properties emerge.Paul Humphreys - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64 (1):1-17.
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Tim Maudlin & Nancy Cartwright - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (11):599.

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