The loss of coherence in quantum cosmology

I analyse two different methods for the retrieval of a classical notion of spacetime from the theory of quantum cosmology in terms of the different means they employ to bring about the necessary loss of coherence. One method employs a direct coarse graining of the appropriate phase space, whereas the other method is based on decohering the system by the interaction with an environment. Although these methods are equivalent on a phenomenological level, I argue that conceptually the decoherence approach is superior. The coarse graining approach construes the necessary loss of coherence in epistemic terms, whereas the method based on decohering the system by interaction with an environment provides a dynamical explanation for the emergence of classical notions of spacetime. On the latter account the emergence of classical behaviour is an objective property of the physical system under consideration, in contradistinction with the subjective coarse graining account of the retrieval of a classical spacetime in terms of measurements made by an observer.
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DOI 10.1016/S1355-2198(98)00028-8
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