Measurement and Fundamental Processes in Quantum Mechanics

Foundations of Physics 45 (7):806-819 (2015)

Gregg Jaeger
Boston University
In the standard mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics, measurement is an additional, exceptional fundamental process rather than an often complex, but ordinary process which happens also to serve a particular epistemic function: during a measurement of one of its properties which is not already determined by a preceding measurement, a measured system, even if closed, is taken to change its state discontinuously rather than continuously as is usual. Many, including Bell, have been concerned about the fundamental role thus given to measurement in the foundation of the theory. Others, including the early Bohr and Schwinger, have suggested that quantum mechanics naturally incorporates the unavoidable uncontrollable disturbance of physical state that accompanies any local measurement without the need for an exceptional fundamental process or a special measurement theory. Disturbance is unanalyzable for Bohr, but for Schwinger it is due to physical interactions’ being borne by fundamental particles having discrete properties and behavior which is beyond physical control. Here, Schwinger’s approach is distinguished from more well known treatments of measurement, with the conclusion that, unlike most, it does not suffer under Bell’s critique of quantum measurement. Finally, Schwinger’s critique of measurement theory is explicated as a call for a deeper investigation of measurement processes that requires the use of a theory of quantum fields.
Keywords Measurement  Quantum mechanics  Quantum field theory   Disturbance  Process
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10701-015-9893-6
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 40,131
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory.Werner Heisenberg - 1930 - Chicago: Ill., The University of Chicago Press.
Modal Interpretations, Decoherence and Measurements.Guido Bacciagaluppi & Meir Hemmo - 1996 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 27 (3):239-277.
Insolubility of the Quantum Measurement Problem for Unsharp Observables.Paul Busch & Abner Shimony - 1996 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 27 (4):397-404.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Schwinger Algebra for Quaternionic Quantum Mechanics.L. P. Horwitz - 1997 - Foundations of Physics 27 (7):1011-1034.
The Concept of Transition in Quantum Mechanics.James L. Park - 1970 - Foundations of Physics 1 (1):23-33.
Time-Symmetric Quantum Mechanics.K. B. Wharton - 2007 - Foundations of Physics 37 (1):159-168.
From Micro to Macro: A Solution to the Measurement Problem of Quantum Mechanics.Jeffrey Bub - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:134 - 144.
Schwinger and the Ontology of Quantum Field Theory.Edward MacKinnon - 2007 - Foundations of Science 12 (4):295-323.
Quantum Mechanics and the Program for the Unity of Science.David Carl Scharf - 1985 - Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University


Added to PP index

Total views
19 ( #421,353 of 2,237,183 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #379,590 of 2,237,183 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature