Topoi 34 (2):325-338 (2015)

Joshua Rosaler
Oxford University
I distinguish two types of reduction within the context of quantum-classical relations, which I designate “formal” and “empirical”. Formal reduction holds or fails to hold solely by virtue of the mathematical relationship between two theories; it is therefore a two-place, a priori relation between theories. Empirical reduction requires one theory to encompass the range of physical behaviors that are well-modeled in another theory; in a certain sense, it is a three-place, a posteriori relation connecting the theories and the domain of physical reality that both serve to describe. Focusing on the relationship between classical and quantum mechanics, I argue that while certain formal results concerning singular \ limits have been taken to preclude the possibility of reduction between these theories, such results at most provide support for the claim that singular limits block reduction in the formal sense; little if any reason has been given for thinking that they block reduction in the empirical sense. I then briefly outline a strategy for empirical reduction that is suggested by work on decoherence theory, arguing that this sort of account remains a fully viable route to the empirical reduction of classical to quantum mechanics and is unaffected by such singular limits
Keywords Quantum  Classical  Reduction  Limits  Formal  Empirical  Decoherence  Semiclassical
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11245-015-9328-1
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,593
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Reduction as an a Posteriori Relation.Joshua Rosaler - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):269-299.
Interpretation Neutrality in the Classical Domain of Quantum Theory.Joshua Rosaler - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 53:54-72.
Reductive Explanation and the Construction of Quantum Theories.Benjamin H. Feintzeig - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:000-000.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Classical Limit of Quantum Theory.John T. Bruer - 1982 - Synthese 50 (2):167 - 212.
Whence Chemistry?Robert C. Bishop - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (2):171-177.
On the Relation Between Gauge and Phase Symmetries.Gabriel Catren - 2014 - Foundations of Physics 44 (12):1317-1335.
There is Good Physics in Theory Reduction.Fritz Rohrlich - 1990 - Foundations of Physics 20 (11):1399-1412.
The Ambiguity of Reduction.Eric R. Scerri - 2007 - Hyle 13 (2):67 - 81.
Explanation and Theory Formation in Quantum Chemistry.Hinne Hettema - 2009 - Foundations of Chemistry 11 (3):145-174.
Quantum Mechanics, Propensities, and Realism.In-rae Cho - 1990 - Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University
Reduction and Genetics.David L. Hull - 1981 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 6 (2):125-144.
Reduction in Genetics--Biology or Philosophy?David L. Hull - 1972 - Philosophy of Science 39 (4):491-499.
The Formal Structure of Genetics and the Reduction Problem.A. Lindenmayer & N. Simon - 1980 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:160 - 170.


Added to PP index

Total views
182 ( #60,181 of 2,462,066 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #448,768 of 2,462,066 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes