Quantum propensiton theory: A testable resolution of the wave/particle dilemma

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (1):1-50 (1988)
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In this paper I put forward a new micro realistic, fundamentally probabilistic, propensiton version of quantum theory. According to this theory, the entities of the quantum domain - electrons, photons, atoms - are neither particles nor fields, but a new kind of fundamentally probabilistic entity, the propensiton - entities which interact with one another probabilistically. This version of quantum theory leaves the Schroedinger equation unchanged, but reinterprets it to specify how propensitons evolve when no probabilistic transitions occur. Probabilisitic transitions occur when new "particles" are created as a result of inelastic interactions. All measurements are just special cases of this. This propensiton version of quantum theory, I argue, solves the wave/particle dilemma, is free of conceptual problems that plague orthodox quantum theory, recovers all the empirical success of orthodox quantum theory, and at the same time yields as yet untested predictions that differ from those of orthodox quantum theory.


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Nicholas Maxwell
University College London

Citations of this work

Quantum propensities.Mauricio Suárez - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38 (2):418-438.
Are probabilism and special relativity compatible?Nicholas Maxwell - 1988 - Philosophy of Science 55 (4):640-645.
Theories of probability.Colin Howson - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (1):1-32.

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The Logic of Scientific Discovery.K. Popper - 1959 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 10 (37):55-57.
The Scientific Image.Michael Friedman - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (5):274-283.

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