Functionalising the wavefunction

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 96 (C):141-153 (2022)
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Functionalism is the view that being x is to play the role of x. This paper defends a functionalist account of three-dimensional entities in the context of Wave Function Realism (WFR), that can explain in detail how we can recover three-dimensional entities out of the wavefunction. In particular, the essay advocates for a novel version of WFR in terms of a functional reductionist approach in the style of David Lewis. This account entails reduction of the upper entities to the bottom ones, when the latter behave appropriately. As applied to WFR, it shows how the wavefunction can turn out to be identical to three-dimensional objects, provided certain conditions. The first major goal of the paper is thus to put forward an improved and more rigorous version of WFR, which dissolves several extant issues about the theory, and can serve as a starting point for future literature on the topic. Moreover, the second major goal of the article is to take WFR as a case study to demonstrate the pros of functional reductionism, especially in the form defended here, thereby helping to bring this view back in the philosophy of science debate. The positive upshots of this paper suggest a possible application of functional reductionism also to other contexts.

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Lorenzo Lorenzetti
University of Bristol

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References found in this work

Psychophysical and theoretical identifications.David K. Lewis - 1972 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):249-258.
Realism about the wave function.Eddy Keming Chen - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (7):e12611.
How to define theoretical terms.David Lewis - 1970 - Journal of Philosophy 67 (13):427-446.

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