Scientific Realism meets Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics

In Philosophers Think About Quantum Theory (2017)
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Abstract

I examine the epistemological debate on scientific realism in the context of quantum physics, focusing on the empirical underdetermin- ation of different formulations and interpretations of QM. I will argue that much of the interpretational, metaphysical work on QM tran- scends the kinds of realist commitments that are well-motivated in the light of the history of science. I sketch a way of demarcating empirically well-confirmed aspects of QM from speculative quantum metaphysics in a way that coheres with anti-realist evidence from the history of science. The minimal realist attitude sketched withholds realist com- mitment to what quantum state |Ψ⟩ represents. I argue that such commitment is not required for fulfilling the ultimate realist motiva- tion: accounting for the empirical success of quantum mechanics in a way that is in tune with a broader understanding of how theoretical science progresses and latches onto reality.

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Juha Saatsi
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

Quantum ontology without speculation.Matthias Egg - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-26.
(In)effective realism?Juha Saatsi - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (2):1-16.
Dissolving the measurement problem is not an option for the realist.Matthias Egg - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 66:62-68.
Laudatio: Professor Bas van Fraassen.Steven French - 2024 - In Claus Beisbart & Michael Frauchiger (eds.), Scientific Theories and Philosophical Stances: Themes from van Fraassen. De Gruyter. pp. 13-20.

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References found in this work

How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized.James Ladyman & Don Ross - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Don Ross, David Spurrett & John G. Collier.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.

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