Holism, physical theories and quantum mechanics

Abstract
Motivated by the question what it is that makes quantum mechanics a holistic theory, I try to define for general physical theories what we mean by `holism'. For this purpose I propose an epistemological criterion to decide whether or not a physical theory is holistic, namely: a physical theory is holistic if and only if it is impossible in principle to infer the global properties, as assigned in the theory, by local resources available to an agent. I propose that these resources include at least all local operations and classical communication. This approach is contrasted with the well-known approaches to holism in terms of supervenience. The criterion for holism proposed here involves a shift in emphasis from ontology to epistemology. I apply this epistemological criterion to classical physics and Bohmian mechanics as represented on a phase and configuration space respectively, and for quantum mechanics using the formalism of general quantum operations as completely positive trace non-increasing maps. Furthermore, I provide an interesting example from which one can conclude that quantum mechanics is holistic in the above mentioned sense, although, perhaps surprisingly, no entanglement is needed
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsb.2004.08.001
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References found in this work BETA
Relational Holism and Quantum Mechanics.Teller Paul - 1986 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37 (1):71-81.
Holism and Nonseparability.Richard A. Healey - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (8):393-421.
Holism, Separability, and the Metaphysical Implications of the Bell Experiments.Don Howard - 1989 - In James T. Cushing & Ernan McMullin (eds.), Philosophical Consequences of Quantum Theory. University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 224--253.
Part and Whole in Quantum Mechanics.Tim Maudlin - 1998 - In Elena Castellani (ed.), Interpreting Bodies. Princeton University Press. pp. 46--60.
Individuality, Supervenience and Bell's Theorem.Steven French - 1989 - Philosophical Studies 55 (1):1-22.

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Citations of this work BETA
Downward Causation Without Foundations.Michel Bitbol - 2012 - Synthese 185 (2):233-255.
Holism and Nonseparability by Analogy.Aristidis Arageorgis - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):206-214.

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