Causal Processes and Locality in Classical and in Quantum Physics

Dissertation, University of Athens & National Technical University of Athems (2011)
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Abstract

In this work we try to study theories of causation based upon causal processes and causal interactions in the context of classical and quantum physics. Our central aim is to find out whether such causal theories are compatible with the world picture suggested by contemporary theories of physics. In the first part, we review, compare and try to place among more general taxonomical schemes, the causal theories by Russell (the causal lines approach), Reichenbach (mark method, probabilistic causality and the principle of common cause), Salmon (mark method, structure, invariant and conserved quantities approaches) and Dowe (conserved quantity theory). In the second part of the work, we deal with some problems that process theories of causation face whenever one tries to define, rigorously, causal concepts (e.g. “causal process” or “conjunctive common cause”) in the context of classical relativistic physical theories (van Dam – Wigner particle theory, the free Klein-Gordon field, classical electromagnetic theory) as well as quantum theories (algebraic relativistic quantum field theory). In this vein, special attention has been given to the locality problem in physical theories as it emerges from the structure of local classical the quantum theories (semantic locality), the relation between global and local conditions for physical systems (global and local determinism) as well as the problem of action at a distance, which is of central importance for the theories of causation under examination (Bell’s inequalities, EPR paradox, Reeh-Schlieder theorem and local independence conditions). We argue for three different theses: first, there are physical theories in the context of which it is impossible even to formulate the necessary physical hypotheses that allow us to define basic causal concepts and causal principles; second, there are physical theories which allow us to formulate these hypotheses only ad hoc; finally, in some cases it is necessary to revise basic causal principles and concepts bequeathed by the philosophical tradition.

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Chrysovalantis Stergiou
The American College of Greece: Deree

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