Aiming to unravel the mystery of quantum mechanics, this book is concerned with questions about action-at-a-distance, holism, and whether quantum mechanics gives a complete account of microphysical reality. With rigorous arguments and clear thinking, the author provides an introduction to the philosophy of physics.
Department of History and Philosophy of Science. University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RH This paper is concerned with the question of whether atomic particles of the same species, i. e. with the same intrinsic state-independent properties of mass, spin, electric charge, etc, violate the Leibnizian Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles, in the sense that, while there is more than one of them, their state-dependent properties may also all be the same. The answer depends on what exactly (...) the state-dependent properties of atomic particles are taken to be. On the plausible interpretation that these should comprise all monadic and relational properties that can be expressed in terms of physical magnitudes associated with self-adjoint operators that can be defined for the individual particles, then the weakest form of the Principle is shown to be violated for bosons, fermions and higher-order paraparticles, treated in first quantization *Some of the arguments inn this paper appeared in a thesis submited by one of us (S.F.) In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the PhD degree of the University of London, in 1984. entitled 'Identity and ‘Individuality in Classical and Quantum Physics’. (shrink)
We extend the work of French and Redhead  further examining the relation of quantum statistics to the assumption that quantum entities have the sort of identity generally assumed for physical objects, more specifically an identity which makes them susceptible to being thought of as conceptually individuatable and labelable even though they cannot be experimentally distinguished. We also further examine the relation of such hypothesized identity of quantum entities to the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles. We conclude that although (...) such an assumption of identity is consistent with the facts of quantum statistics, methodological considerations show that we should take quantum entities to be entirely unindividuatable, in the way suggested by a Fock space description. (shrink)
The book is drawn from the Tarner lectures, delivered in Cambridge in 1993. It is concerned with the ultimate nature of reality, and how this is revealed by modern physical theories such as relativity and quantum theory. The objectivity and rationality of science are defended against the views of relativists and social constructionists. It is claimed that modern physics gives us a tentative and fallible, but nevertheless rational, approach to the nature of physical reality. The role of subjectivity in science (...) is examined in the fields of relativity theory, statistical mechanics and quantum theory, and recent claims of an essential role for human consciousness in physics is rejected. Prospects for a 'Theory of Everything' are considered, and the related question of how to assess scientific progress is carefully examined. (shrink)
In this paper questions about vacuum fluctuations in local measurements, and the correlations between such fluctuations, are discussed. It is shown that maximal correlations always exist between suitably chosen local projection operators associated with spacelike separated regions of space-time, however far apart these regions may be. The connection of this result with the well-known Fregenhagen bound showing exponential decay of correlations with distance is explained, and the relevance of the discussion to the question “What do particle detectors detect?” is addressed.
The practice of describing multiparticle quantum systems in terms of labeled particles indicates that we think of quantum entities as individuatable. The labels, together with particle indistinguishability, create the need for symmetrization or antisymmetrization (or, in principle, higher-order symmetries), which in turn results in “surplus formal structure” in the formalism, formal structure which corresponds to nothing in the real world. We argue that these facts show quanta to be unindividuatable entities, things in principle incapable of supporting labels, and so things (...) which support no factual difference_if two of them are thought of as being switched. When thinking of the metaphysics of quanta, we should eschew the misleading labels of the tensor product Hilbert space formalism and prefer the ontologically more faithful description of the Fock space formalism. This conception eliminates puzzles about the quantum statistics of bosons. (shrink)
A new proof of the impossibility of reconciling realism and locality in quantum mechanics is given. Unlike proofs based on Bell's inequality, the present work makes minimal and transparent use of probability theory and proceeds by demonstrating a Kochen-Specker type of paradox based on the value assignments to the spin components of two spatially separated spin-1 systems in the singlet state of their total spin. An essential part of the argument is to distinguish carefully two commonly confused types of contextuality; (...) we call them ontological and environmental contextuality. These in turn are associated with two quite distinct senses of nonlocality. We indicate the relevance of our treatment to other related discussions in recent literature on the philosophy of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
give a proof of the existence of nonlocal influences acting on correlated spin-1/2 particles in the singlet state which does not require any particular interpretation of quantum mechanics (QM). (Except Stapp holds that the proof fails under a many-worlds interpretation of QM—a claim we analyse in 1.2.) Recently, in responding to Redhead's (, pp. 90-6) criticism that the Stapp 1 proof fails under an indeterministic interpretation of QM, Stapp  (henceforth Stapp 2), has revised the logical structure of his proof (...) including its crucial locality assumption. Our main aim is to show that this revision is a step in the wrong direction because it faces two difficulties which undermine the resulting proof's significance (3.1) and validity (3. 2). We also clarify and extend the Stapp 1 proof (1. 1) with the aid of Lewis' analysis of counterfactuals (1. 2) and causal dependence (2. 2 and 2. 3). In so doing, we are able to identify two new defects in the Stapp 1 proof (1. 3 and 2. 1) in addition to corroborating Redhead's criticism (2. 2). Also, the additional assumptions which save the Stapp 1 proof's validity are detailed (2. 3) and some new difficulties for the determinist are pointed out by exploiting a slightly extended version of the proof (2. 4). In providing this full analysis of the Stapp 1 proof, we also construct the necessary framework within which to provide a critique of Stapp 2's proof (3). *Portions of this paper were presented by R. K. Clifton to the 1988 British Society for the Philosophy of Science Conference at the University of Southampton. R. K. Clifton wishes to thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, and the Governing Body of Peterhouse at Cambridge University for support during this work. (shrink)
The metaphysical commitments of quantum field theory are examined. A thesis of underdetermination as between field and particle approaches to the "elementary particles" is argued for but only if a disputed notion of transcendental individuality is admitted. The superiority of the field approach is further emphasized in the context of heuristics.
The status of the vacuum in relativistic quantum field theory is examined. A sharp distinction arises between the global vacuum and the local vacuum. The concept of local number density is critically assessed. The global vacuum state implies fluctuations for all local observables. Correlations between such fluctuations in space-like separated regions of space-time are discussed and the existence of correlations which are maximal in a certain sense is remarked on, independently of how far apart those regions may be. The analogy (...) with the mirror-image correlations in the singlet state of two spin-1/2 particles is explained. The connection between these maximal correlations and the well-known violation of the Bell inequality in the vacuum state is discussed, together with the way in which the existence of these correlations might be exploited in developing a vacuum version of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen argument. The recent relativistic formulation of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen argument by Ghirardi and Grassi is critically assessed with particular reference to the vacuum case. (shrink)
We further develop a recent new proof (by Greenberger, Horne, and Zeilinger—GHZ) that local deterministic hidden-variable theories are inconsistent with certain strict correlations predicted by quantum mechanics. First, we generalize GHZ's proof so that it applies to factorable stochastic theories, theories in which apparatus hidden variables are causally relevant to measurement results, and theories in which the hidden variables evolve indeterministically prior to the particle-apparatus interactions. Then we adopt a more general measure-theoretic approach which requires that GHZ's argument be modified (...) in order to produce a valid proof. Finally, we motivate our more general proof's assumptions in a somewhat different way from previous authors in order to strengthen the implications of our proof as much as possible. After developing GHZ's proof along these lines, we then consider the analogue, for our proof, of Bohr's reply to the EPR argument, and conclude (pace GHZ) that in at least one respect (viz. that of most concern to Bohr) the proof is no more powerful than Bell's. Nevertheless, we point out some new advantages of our proof over Bell's, and over other algebraic proofs of nonlocality. And we conclude by giving a modified version of our proof that, like Bell's, does not rely on experimentally unrealizable strict correlations, but still leads to a testable “quasi-algebraic” locality inequality.“... to admit things not visible to the gross creatures that we are is, in my opinion, to show a decent humility, and not just a lamentable addiction to metaphysics.”J. S. Bell. (shrink)
Darrin Belousek has argued that the indistinguishability of quantum particles is conventional “in the Duhemian–Einsteinian sense,” in part by critially examining prior arguments given by Redhead and Teller. Belousek's discussion provides a useful occasion to clarify some of those arguments, acknowledge respects in which they were misleading, and comment on how they can be strengthened. We also comment briefly on the relevant sense of “conventional.”.
The bootstrap approach to understanding the elementary particles in hadronic physics was very popular in the 1960s as an alternative to quantum field theory. This episode is subjected to historical, methodological and philosophical analysis designed to complement the extensive work of Jim Cushing in this field.
Fine has recently proved the surprising result that satisfaction of the Bell inequality in a Clauser-Horne experiment implies the existence of joint probabilities for pairs of noncommuting observables in the experiment. In this paper we show that if probabilities are interpreted in the von Mises-Church sense of relative frequencies on random sequences, a proof of the Bell inequality is nonetheless possible in which such joint probabilities are assumed not to exist. We also argue that Fine's theorem and related results do (...) not impugn the common view that local realists are committed to the Bell inequality. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to offer a conceptual analysis of Weinberg's proof of the spin-statistics theorem by comparing it with Pauli's original proof and with the subsequent textbook tradition, which typically resorts to the dichotomy positive energy for half-integral spin particles/microcausality for integral-spin particles. In contrast to this tradition, Weinberg's proof does not directly invoke the positivity of the energy, but derives the theorem from the single relativistic requirement of microcausality. This seemingly innocuous difference marks an important change (...) in the conceptual basis of quantum physics. Its historical, theoretical, and conceptual roots are here reconstructed. The link between Weinberg's proof and Pauli's original is highlighted: Weinberg's proof turns out to do justice to Pauli's anti-Dirac lines of thought. The work of Furry and Oppenheimer is also surveyed as a “third way” between the textbook tradition established by Pauli and Weinberg's approach. (shrink)
Heisenberg'sgendanken experiments in quantum mechanics have given rise to a widespread belief that the indeterminacy relations holding for the variables of a quantal system can be explained quasiclassically in terms of a disturbance suffered by the system in interaction with a quantal measurement, or state preparation, agent. There are a number of criticisms of this doctrine in the literature, which are critically examined in this article and found to be ininconclusive, the chief error being the conflation of this disturbance with (...) the projection postulate. We present a critique of the disturbance theory based on the fact that the required disturbance will in general depend on the interaction time of the system and state-preparer. This point is exploited in the construction of a spin-interaction model which acts as a counterexample to the disturbance doctrine, while remaining faithful to the spirit of Heisenberg'sgedanken experiments. Several consequences of this result are discussed. (shrink)
Popper wrote extensively on the quantum theory. In Logic der Forschung he devoted a whole chapter to the topic, while the whole of Volume 3 of the Postscript to the Logic of Scientific Discovery is devoted to the quantum theory. This volume entitled Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics incorporated a famous earlier essay, ‘Quantum Mechanics without “the Observer”’ . In addition Popper's development of the propensity interpretation of probability was much influenced by his views on the role of (...) probability in quantum theory, and he also wrote an insightful critique of the 1936 paper of Birkhoff and von Neumann on nondistributive quantum logic. (shrink)
The views of Redhead () are defended against the argument by Panu Raatikainen (). The importance of informal rigour is canvassed, and the argument for the a priori nature of induction is explained. The significance of Gödel's theorem is again rehearsed.
An attempt is made to defend realism and the absence of space-like causation in quantum mechanics, by invoking indeterminism and a new necessary condition for stochastic causality, we term robustness. This condition is defended against recent critical attacks by Cartwright and Jones, and by Healey, and the violation of the robustness condition in Bell-type correlation experiments is shown to follow if an appropriate interpretation of the state vector is employed.
In what sense do the sciences explain? Or do they merely describe what is going on without answering why-questions at all. But cannot description at an appropriate ‘level’ provide all that we can reasonably ask of an explanation? Well, what do we mean by explanation anyway? What, if anything, gets left out when we provide a so-called scientific explanation? Are there limits of explanation in general, and scientific explanation, in particular? What are the criteria for a good explanation? Is it (...) possible to satisfy all the desiderata simultaneously? If not, which should we regard as paramount? What is the connection between explanation and prediction? What exactly is it that statistical explanations explain? These are some of the questions that have generated a very extensive literature in the philosophy of science. In attempting to answer them, definite views will have to be taken on related matters, such as physical laws, causality, reduction, and questions of evidence and confirmation, of theory and observation, realism versus antirealism, and the objectivity and rationality of science. I will state my own views on these matters, in the course of this essay. To argue for everything in detail and to do justice to all the alternative views, would fill a book, perhaps several books. I want to lead up fairly quickly to modern physics, and review the explanatory situation there in rather more detail. (shrink)