This book comprises all of John Bell's published and unpublished papers in the field of quantummechanics, including two papers that appeared after the first edition was published. It also contains a preface written for the first edition, and an introduction by Alain Aspect that puts into context Bell's great contribution to the quantum philosophy debate. One of the leading expositors and interpreters of modern quantum theory, John Bell played a major role in the development of (...) our current understanding of the profound nature of quantum concepts. First edition Hb (1987): 0-521-33495-0 First edition Pb (1988): 0-521-36869-3. (shrink)
We discuss the no-go theorem of Frauchiger and Renner based on an "extended Wigner's friend" thought experiment which is supposed to show that any single-world interpretation of quantummechanics leads to inconsistent predictions if it is applicable on all scales. We show that no such inconsistency occurs if one considers a complete description of the physical situation. We then discuss implications of the thought experiment that have not been clearly addressed in the original paper, including a tension between (...) relativity and nonlocal effects predicted by quantummechanics. Our discussion applies in particular to Bohmian mechanics. (shrink)
This paper offers a critical assessment of the current state of the debate about the identity and individuality of material objects. Its main aim, in particular, is to show that, in a sense to be carefully specified, the opposition between the Leibnizian ‘reductionist’ tradition, based on discernibility, and the sort of ‘primitivism’ that denies that facts of identity and individuality must be analysable has become outdated. In particular, it is argued that—contrary to a widespread consensus—‘naturalised’ metaphysics supports both the acceptability (...) of non-qualitatively grounded (both ‘contextual’ and intrinsic) identity and a pluralistic approach to individuality and individuation. A case study is offered that focuses on non-relativistic quantummechanics, in the context of which primitivism about identity and individuality, rather than being regarded as unscientific, is on the contrary suggested to be preferable to the complicated forms of reductionism that have recently been proposed. More generally, by assuming a plausible form of anti-reductionism about scientific theories and domains, it is claimed that science can be regarded as compatible with, or even as suggesting, the existence of a series of equally plausible grades of individuality. The kind of individuality that prevails in a certain context and at a given level can be ascertained only on the basis of the specific scientific theory at hand. (shrink)
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 quantummechanics in a way that is in tune with a broader understanding of how theoretical science progresses and latches onto reality. (shrink)
A longstanding issue in attempts to understand the Everett (Many-Worlds) approach to quantummechanics is the origin of the Born rule: why is the probability given by the square of the amplitude? Following Vaidman, we note that observers are in a position of self-locating uncertainty during the period between the branches of the wave function splitting via decoherence and the observer registering the outcome of the measurement. In this period it is tempting to regard each branch as equiprobable, (...) but we argue that the temptation should be resisted. Applying lessons from this analysis, we demonstrate (using methods similar to those of Zurek's envariance-based derivation) that the Born rule is the uniquely rational way of apportioning credence in Everettian quantummechanics. In doing so, we rely on a single key principle: changes purely to the environment do not affect the probabilities one ought to assign to measurement outcomes in a local subsystem. We arrive at a method for assigning probabilities in cases that involve both classical and quantum self-locating uncertainty. This method provides unique answers to quantum Sleeping Beauty problems, as well as a well-defined procedure for calculating probabilities in quantum cosmological multiverses with multiple similar observers. (shrink)
David Wallace has given a decision-theoretic argument for the Born Rule in the context of Everettian quantummechanics. This approach promises to resolve some long-standing problems with probability in EQM, but it has faced plenty of resistance. One kind of objection charges that the requisite notion of decision-theoretic uncertainty is unavailable in the Everettian picture, so that the argument cannot gain any traction; another kind of objection grants the proof’s applicability and targets the premises. In this article I (...) propose some novel principles connecting the physics of EQM with the metaphysics of modality, and argue that in the resulting framework the incoherence problem does not arise. These principles also help to justify one of the most controversial premises of Wallace’s argument, ‘branching indifference’. Absent any a priori reason to align the metaphysics with the physics in some other way, the proposed principles can be adopted on grounds of theoretical utility. The upshot is that Everettians can, after all, make clear sense of objective probability. 1 Introduction2 Setup3 Individualism versus Collectivism4 The Ingredients of Indexicalism5 Indexicalism and Incoherence5.1 The trivialization problem5.2 The uncertainty problem6 Indexicalism and Branching Indifference6.1 Introducing branching indifference6.2 The pragmatic defence of branching indifference6.3 The non-existence defence of branching indifference6.4 The indexicalist defence of branching indifference7 Conclusion. (shrink)
*A shortened version of this paper will appear in Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science, Dasgupta and Weslake, eds. Routledge.* This paper describes the case that can be made for a high-dimensional ontology in quantummechanics based on the virtues of avoiding both nonseparability and non locality.
This paper argues that ontic structural realism (OSR) faces a dilemma: either it remains on the general level of realism with respect to the structure of a given theory, but then it is, like epistemic structural realism, only a partial realism; or it is a complete realism, but then it has to answer the question how the structure of a given theory is implemented, instantiated or realized and thus has to argue for a particular interpretation of the theory in question. (...) This claim is illustrated by examining how OSR fares with respect to the three main candidates for an ontology of quantummechanics, namely many worlds-type interpretations, collapse-type interpretations and hidden variable-type interpretations. The result is that OSR as such is not sufficient to answer the question of what the world is like if quantummechanics is correct. (shrink)
A recent rethinking of the early history of QuantumMechanics deemed the late 1920s agreement on the equivalence of Matrix Mechanics and Wave Mechanics, prompted by Schrödinger’s 1926 proof, a myth. Schrödinger supposedly failed to achieve the goal of proving isomorphism of the mathematical structures of the two theories, while only later developments in the early 1930s, especially the work of mathematician John von Neumman (1932) provided sound proof of equivalence. The alleged agreement about the Copenhagen (...) Interpretation, predicated to a large extent on this equivalence, was deemed a myth as well. If such analysis is correct, it provides considerable evidence that, in its critical moments, the foundations of scientific practice might not live up to the minimal standards of rigor, as such standards are established in the practice of logic, mathematics, and mathematical physics, thereby prompting one to question the rationality of the practice of physics. In response, I argue that Schrödinger’s proof concerned primarily a domain-specific ontological equivalence, rather than the isomorphism. It stemmed initially from the agreement of the eigenvalues of Wave Mechanics and energy-states of Bohr’s Model that was discovered and published by Schrödinger in his First and Second Communications of 1926. Schrödinger demonstrated in this proof that the laws of motion arrived at by the method of Matrix Mechanics could be derived successfully from eigenfunctions as well (while he only outlined the reversed derivation of eigenfunctions from Matrix Mechanics, which was necessary for the proof of isomorphism of the two theories). This result was intended to demonstrate the domain-specific ontological equivalence of Matrix Mechanics and Wave Mechanics, with respect to the domain of Bohr’s atom. And although the full-fledged mathematico-logical equivalence of the theories did not seem out of the reach of existing theories and methods, Schrödinger never intended to fully explore such a possibility in his proof paper. In a further development of QuantumMechanics, Bohr’s complementarity and Copenhagen Interpretation captured a more substantial convergence of the subsequently revised (in light of the experimental results) Wave and Matrix Mechanics. I argue that both the equivalence and Copenhagen Interpretation can be deemed myths if one predicates the philosophical and historical analysis on a narrow model of physical theory which disregards its historical context, and focuses exclusively on its formal aspects and the exploration of the logical models supposedly implicit in it. (shrink)
I argue that quantummechanics is fundamentally a theory about the representation and manipulation of information, not a theory about the mechanics of nonclassical waves or particles. The notion of quantum information is to be understood as a new physical primitive—just as, following Einstein’s special theory of relativity, a field is no longer regarded as the physical manifestation of vibrations in a mechanical medium, but recognized as a new physical primitive in its own right.
The paper address the question of whether quantummechanics (QM) favors Priority Monism, the view according to which the Universe is the only fundamental object. It develops formal frameworks to frame rigorously the question of fundamental mereology and its answers, namely (Priority) Pluralism and Monism. It then reconstructs the quantum mechanical argument in favor of the latter and provides a detailed and thorough criticism of it that sheds furthermore new light on the relation between parthood, composition and (...) fundamentality in QM. (shrink)
It has been argued that the transition from classical to quantummechanics is an example of a Kuhnian scientific revolution, in which there is a shift from the simple, intuitive, straightforward classical paradigm, to the quantum, convoluted, counterintuitive, amazing new quantum paradigm. In this paper, after having clarified what these quantum paradigms are supposed to be, I analyze whether they constitute a radical departure from the classical paradigm. Contrary to what is commonly maintained, I argue (...) that, in addition to radical quantum paradigms, there are also legitimate ways of understanding the quantum world that do not require any substantial change to the classical paradigm. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the link between consciousness and quantummechanics. Often explanations that invoke consciousness to help explain some of the most perplexing aspects of quantummechanics are not given serious attention. However, casual dismissal is perhaps unwarranted, given the persistence of the measurement problem, as well as the mysterious nature of consciousness. Using data accumulated from experiments in parapsychology, I examine what anomalous data with respect to consciousness might tell us about various explanations (...) of quantummechanics. I examine three categories of quantummechanics interpretations that have some promise of fitting with this anomalous data. I conclude that explanations that posit a substratum of reality containing pure information or potentia, along the lines proposed by Bohm and Stapp, off er the best fit for various categories of this data. (shrink)
A time-symmetric formulation of nonrelativistic quantummechanics is developed by applying two consecutive boundary conditions onto solutions of a time- symmetrized wave equation. From known probabilities in ordinary quantummechanics, a time-symmetric parameter P0 is then derived that properly weights the likelihood of any complete sequence of measurement outcomes on a quantum system. The results appear to match standard quantummechanics, but do so without requiring a time-asymmetric collapse of the wavefunction upon measurement, (...) thereby realigning quantummechanics with an important fundamental symmetry. (shrink)
It is argued that a realistic interpretation of quantummechanics is possible and useful. Current interpretations, from “Copenhagen” to “many worlds” are critically revisited. The difficulties for intuitive models of quantum physics are pointed out and possible solutions proposed. In particular the existence of discrete states, the quantum jumps, the alleged lack of objective properties, measurement theory, the probabilistic character of quantum physics, the wave–particle duality and the Bell inequalities are analyzed. The sketch of a (...) realistic picture of the quantum world is presented. It rests upon the assumption that quantummechanics is a stochastic theory whose randomness derives from the existence of vacuum fields. They correspond to the vacuum fluctuations of quantum field theory, but taken as real rather than virtual. (shrink)
The theory of causal Bayes nets [15, 19] is, from an empirical point of view, currently one of the most promising approaches to causation on the market. There are, however, counterexamples to its core axiom, the causal Markov condition. Probably the most serious of these counterexamples are EPR/B experiments in quantummechanics (cf. [13, 23]). However, these are also the only counterexamples yet known from the quantum realm. One might therefore wonder whether they are the only phenomena (...) in the quantum realm that create problems for causal Bayes nets. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that not only the phenomenon of quantum correlations in EPR/B experiments create problems for causal Bayes nets, but also the temporal evolution of quantum systems, which is described as dualistic by quantummechanics. For this purpose, it is shown that single photon experiments in a Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI) violate the causal Markov condition as well. It is then argued, however, that the Markov violation does not occur under the de Broglie-Bohm interpretation of Bohmian mechanics. (shrink)
This article probes the question of what interpretations of quantummechanics actually accomplish. In other domains, which are briefly considered, interpretations serve to make alien systematizations intelligible to us. This often involves clarifying the status of their implicit ontology. A survey of interpretations of non-relativistic quantummechanics supports the evaluation that these interpretations make a contribution to philosophy, but not to physics. Interpretations of quantum field theory are polarized by the divergence between the Lagrangian field (...) theory that led to the Standard Model of Particle physics and the Algebraic quantum field theory, that discounts an ontology of particles. Ruetsche's interpretation, it is argued, offers a potential for loosening the sharp polarization that presently obtains. A brief evaluation focuses on the functional ontology of quantum field theory considered as an effective theory. (shrink)
In this paper, I introduce an intrinsic account of the quantum state. This account contains three desirable features that the standard platonistic account lacks: (1) it does not refer to any abstract mathematical objects such as complex numbers, (2) it is independent of the usual arbitrary conventions in the wave function representation, and (3) it explains why the quantum state has its amplitude and phase degrees of freedom. -/- Consequently, this account extends Hartry Field’s program outlined in Science (...) Without Numbers (1980), responds to David Malament’s long-standing impossibility conjecture (1982), and establishes an important first step towards a genuinely intrinsic and nominalistic account of quantummechanics. I will also compare the present account to Mark Balaguer’s (1996) nominalization of quantummechanics and discuss how it might bear on the debate about “wave function realism.” In closing, I will suggest some possible ways to extend this account to accommodate spinorial degrees of freedom and a variable number of particles (e.g. for particle creation and annihilation). -/- Along the way, I axiomatize the quantum phase structure as what I shall call a “periodic difference structure” and prove a representation theorem as well as a uniqueness theorem. These formal results could prove fruitful for further investigation into the metaphysics of phase and theoretical structure. (shrink)
On the one hand, non-reflexive logics are logics in which the principle of identity does not hold in general. On the other hand, quantummechanics has difficulties regarding the interpretation of ‘particles’ and their identity, also known in the literature as ‘the problem of indistinguishable particles’. In this article, we will argue that non-reflexive logics can be a useful tool to account for such quantum indistinguishability. In particular, we will provide a particular non-reflexive logic that can help (...) us to analyze and discuss this problem. From a more general physical perspective, we will also analyze the limits imposed by the orthodox quantum formalism to consider the existence of indistinguishable particles in the first place, and argue that non-reflexive logics can also help us to think beyond the limits of classical identity. (shrink)
Carlo Rovelli's relational interpretation of quantummechanics holds that a system's states or the values of its physical quantities as normally conceived only exist relative to a cut between a system and an observer or measuring instrument. Furthermore, on Rovelli's account, the appearance of determinate observations from pure quantum superpositions happens only relative to the interaction of the system and observer. Jeffrey Barrett () has pointed out that certain relational interpretations suffer from what we might call the (...) ‘determinacy problem', but Barrett misclassifies Rovelli's interpretation by lumping it in with Mermin's view, as Rovelli's view is quite different and has resources to escape the particular criticisms that Barrett makes of Mermin's view. Rovelli's interpretation still leaves us with a paradox having to do with the determinacy of measurement outcomes, which can be accepted only if we are willing to give up on certain elements of the ‘absolute’ view of the world. (shrink)
The literature on physicalism often fails to elucidate, I think, what the word physical in physical ism precisely means. Philosophers speak at times of an ideal set of fundamental physical facts, or they stipulate that physical means non-mental , such that all fundamental physical facts are fundamental facts pertaining to the non-mental. In this article, I will probe physicalism in the very much tangible framework of quantummechanics. Although this theory, unlike “ideal physics” or some “final theory of (...) non-mentality”, is an incomplete theory of the world, I believe this analysis will be of value, if for nothing else, at least for bringing some taste of physical reality, as it were, back to the debate. First, I will introduce a broad characterization of the physicalist credo. In Sect. 2, I will provide a rather quick review of quantummechanics and some of its current interpretations. In Sect. 3, the notion of quantum non-separability will be analyzed, which will facilitate a discussion of the wave function ontology in Sect. 4. In Sects. 5 and 6, I will explore competing views on the implications of this ontology. In Sect. 7, I will argue that the prior results, based on a thoroughly realist interpretation of quantummechanics, support only a weak version of non-reductive physicalism. (shrink)
E. Schrödinger's ideas on interpreting quantummechanics have been recently re-examined by historians and revived by philosophers of quantummechanics. Such recent re-evaluations have focused on Schrödinger's retention of space–time continuity and his relinquishment of the corpuscularian understanding of microphysical systems. Several of these historical re-examinations claim that Schrödinger refrained from pursuing his 1926 wave-mechanical interpretation of quantummechanics under pressure from the Copenhagen and Göttingen physicists, who misinterpreted his ideas in their dogmatic pursuit (...) of the complementarity doctrine and the principle of uncertainty. My analysis points to very different reasons for Schrödinger's decision and, accordingly, to a rather different understanding of the dialogue between Schrödinger and N. Bohr, who refuted Schrödinger's arguments. Bohr's critique of Schrödinger's arguments predominantly focused on the results of experiments on the scattering of electrons performed by Bothe and Geiger, and by Compton and Simon. Although he shared Schrödinger's rejection of full-blown classical entities, Bohr argued that these results demonstrated the corpuscular nature of atomic interactions. I argue that it was Schrödinger's agreement with Bohr's critique, not the dogmatic pressure, which led him to give up pursuing his interpretation for 7 yr. Bohr's critique reflected his deep understanding of Schrödinger's ideas and motivated, at least in part, his own pursuit of his complementarity principle. However, in 1935 Schrödinger revived and reformulated the wave-mechanical interpretation. The revival reflected N. F. Mott's novel wave-mechanical treatment of particle-like properties. R. Shankland's experiment, which demonstrated an apparent conflict with the results of Bothe–Geiger and Compton–Simon, may have been additional motivation for the revival. Subsequent measurements have proven the original experimental results accurate, and I argue that Schrödinger may have perceived even the reformulated wave-mechanical approach as too tenuous in light of Bohr's critique. (shrink)
This article considers two important traditions concerning the chemical elements. The first is the meaning of the term “element” including the distinctions between element as basic substance, as simple substance and as combined simple substance. In addition to briefly tracing the historical development of these distinctions, I make comments on the recent attempts to clarify the fundamental notion of element as basic substance for which I believe the term “element” is best reserved. This discussion has focused on the writings of (...) Fritz Paneth which are here analyzed from a new perspective. The other tradition concerns the reduction of chemistry to quantummechanics and an understanding of chemical elements through their microscopic components such as protons, neutrons and electrons. I claim that the use of electronic configurations has still not yet settled the question of the placement of several elements and discuss an alternative criterion based on maximizing triads of elements. I also point out another possible limitation to the reductive approach, namely the failure, up to now, to obtain a derivation of the Madelung rule. Mention is made of some recent similarity studies which could be used to clarify the nature of ‘elements’. Although it has been suggested that the notion of element as basic substance should be considered in terms of fundamental particles like protons and electrons, I resist this move and conclude that the quantum mechanical tradition has not had much impact on the question of what is an element which remains an essentially philosophical issue. (shrink)
We believe that physics education has to meet today’s requirement for a qualitative approach to QuantumMechanics (QM) worldview. An effective answer to the corresponding instructional problem might allow the basic ideas of QM to be accessed atan early stage of physics education. This paper presents part of a project that aims at introducing a sufficient, simple, and relevant teaching approach towards QM into in-/preservice teacher education, i.e., at providing teachers with the indispensable scientific knowledge and epistemological base (...) needed for a reform of science education along the aforementioned line. The investigation of teacher–learners’ (t-ls’) initial knowledge indicated that their main misconceptions appear to be the result of their pre-/in university traditional instruction, which causes the overlapping/mix-up of the conceptual frameworks of Classical Physics (CP) and QM. Assuming that these misconceptions form by nature epistemological obstacles to the acquisition of QM knowledge, the educational strategy proposed here aims at leading t-ls to form a conceptual structure that includes CP and QM as two totally independent conceptual systems. Accepting, furthermore, that the complete distinction of these systems demands a radical reconstruction of t-ls’ initial knowledge, we present here an instructional model that bases the required reconstruction on the juxtaposition of two models that constitute the signal point of twentieth century’s “paradigm shift”: (a) Bohr’s semiclassical atom model, and (b) the model of the atom accepted by modern physics theory. (shrink)
We study the process of observation (measurement), within the framework of a “perspectival” (“relational,” “relative state”) version of the modal interpretation of quantummechanics. We show that if we assume certain features of discreteness and determinism in the operation of the measuring device (which could be a part of the observer's nerve system), this gives rise to classical characteristics of the observed properties, in the first place to spatial localization. We investigate to what extent semi-classical behavior of the (...) object system itself (as opposed to the observational system) is needed for the emergence of classicality. Decoherence is an essential element in the mechanism of observation that we assume, but it turns out that in our approach no environment-induced decoherence on the level of the object system is required for the emergence of classical properties. (shrink)
This paper investigates the possibiity of developing a fully micro realistic version of elementary quantummechanics. I argue that it is highly desirable to develop such a version of quantummechanics, and that the failure of all current versions and interpretations of quantummechanics to constitute micro realistic theories is at the root of many of the interpretative problems associated with quantummechanics, in particular the problem of measurement. I put forward a (...) propensity micro realistic version of quantummechanics, and suggest how it might be possible to discriminate, on expermental grounds, between this theory and other versions of quantummechanics. (shrink)
In this article we present a possible way to make usual quantummechanics fully compatible with physical realism, defined as the statement that the goal of physics is to study entities of the natural world, existing independently from any particular observer’s perception, and obeying universal and intelligible rules. Rather than elaborating on the quantum formalism itself, we propose a new quantum ontology, where physical properties are attributed jointly to the system, and to the context in which (...) it is embedded. In combination with a quantization principle, this non-classical definition of physical reality sheds new light on counter-intuitive features of quantummechanics such as the origin of probabilities, non-locality, and the quantum-classical boundary. (shrink)
The transactional interpretation of quantummechanics, following the time-symmetric formulation of electrodynamics, uses retarded and advanced solutions of the Schrödinger equation and its complex conjugate to understand quantum phenomena by means of transactions. A transaction occurs between an emitter and a specific absorber when the emitter has received advanced waves from all possible absorbers. Advanced causation always raises the specter of paradoxes, and it must be addressed carefully. In particular, different devices involving contingent absorbers or various types (...) of interaction-free measurements have been proposed as threatening the original version of the transactional interpretation. These proposals will be analyzed by examining in each case the configuration of absorbers and, in the special case of the so-called quantum liar experiment, by carefully following the development of retarded and advanced waves through the Mach-Zehnder interferometer. We will show that there is no need to resort to the hierarchy of transactions that some have proposed, and will argue that the transactional interpretation is consistent with the block-universe picture of time. (shrink)
We present an axiomatization of non-relativistic QuantumMechanics for a system with an arbitrary number of components. The interpretation of our system of axioms is realistic and objective. The EPR paradox and its relation with realism is discussed in this framework. It is shown that there is no contradiction between realism and recent experimental results.
Recent years saw the rise of an interest in the roles and significance of thought experiments in different areas of human thinking. Heisenberg's gamma ray microscope is no doubt one of the most famous examples of a thought experiment in physics. Nevertheless, this particular thought experiment has not received much detailed attention in the philosophical literature on thought experiments up to date, maybe because of its often claimed inadequacies. In this paper, I try to do two things: to provide an (...) interesting interpretation of the roles played by Heisenberg's gamma ray microscope in interpreting quantummechanics – partly based on Thomas Kuhn’s views on the function of thought experiments – and to contribute to the ongoing discussions on the roles and significance of thought experiments in physics. (shrink)
What is the meaning of the wave-function? After almost 100 years since the inception of quantummechanics, is it still possible to say something new on what the wave-function is supposed to be? Yes, it is. And Shan Gao managed to do so with his newest book. Here we learn what contemporary physicists and philosophers think about the wave-function; we learn about the de Broglie-Bohm theory, the GRW collapse theory, the gravity-induced collapse theory by Roger Penrose, and the (...) famous PBR theorem; we learn about Schrödinger's original idea that the wave-function represents charge densities; we learn about the notorious measurement problem and its consequences; we learn about the challenges to find a consistent relativistic quantum theory; and we learn, of course, Gao's own suggestion for the status of the wave-function. Above all, Gao shows us the significance of protective measurements for our search of the ontology of quantummechanics. Still not widely recognized among physicists and philosophers, protective measurements let us look deeper into quantummechanics. For Gao this is the main tool to settle the issue on the ontological status of the wave-function: the wave-function is real because one can measure it. (shrink)
In the paper, the proof of the non-locality of quantummechanics, given by Bedford and Stapp (1995), and appealing to the GHZ example, is analyzed. The proof does not contain any explicit assumption of realism, but instead it uses formal methods and techniques of the Lewis calculus of counterfactuals. To ascertain the validity of the proof, a formal semantic model for counterfactuals is constructed. With the help of this model it can be shown that the proof is faulty, (...) because it appeals to the unwarranted principle of “elimination of eliminated conditions” (EEC). As an additional way of showing unreasonableness of the assumption (EEC), it is argued that yet another alleged and highly controversial proof of non-locality of QM, using the Hardy example, can be made almost trivial with the help of (EEC). Finally, a general argument is produced to the effect that the locality condition in the form accepted by Stapp and Bedford is consistent with the quantum-mechanical predictions for the GHZ case under the assumption of indeterminism. This result undermines any future attempts of proving the incompatibility between the predictions of quantum theory and the idea of no faster-than-light influence in the GHZ case, quite independently of the negative assessment of the particular derivation proposed by Stapp and Bedford. (shrink)
This paper examines the epistemological significance of the present situation of underdetermination in quantummechanics. After analyzing this underdetermination at three levels---formal, ontological, and methodological---the paper considers implications for a number of variants of the thesis of scientific realism in fundamental physics and reassesses Lakatos‘ characterization of progress in physical theory in light of the present situation. Next, this paper considers the implications of underdetermination for Weinberg’s ‘‘dream of a final theory.’’ Finally, the paper concludes by suggesting how (...) one might still think of realism and progress in fundamental physics despite the possibility of persistent underdetermination in quantummechanics. (shrink)
General metaphysical arguments have been proposed in favour of the thesis that all dispositions have categorical bases (Armstrong; Prior, Pargetter, Jackson). These arguments have been countered by equally general arguments in support of ungrounded dispositions (Molnar, Mumford). I believe that this controversy cannot be settled purely on the level of abstract metaphysical considerations. Instead, I propose to look for ungrounded dispositions in specific physical theories, such as quantummechanics. I explain why non-classical properties such as spin are best (...) interpreted as irreducible dispositional properties, and I give reasons why even seemingly classical properties, for instance position or momentum, should receive a similar treatment when interpreted in the quantum realm. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I argue that quantum dispositions should not be limited to probabilistic dispositions (propensities) by showing reasons why even possession of well-defined values of parameters should qualify as a dispositional property. I finally discuss the issue of the actuality of quantum dispositions, arguing that it may be justified to treat them as potentialities whose being has a lesser degree of reality than that of classical categorical properties, due to the incompatibility relations between non-commuting observables. (shrink)
Bob hides a ball in one of four drawers. Alice is to locate it. Classically she has to open up to three drawers, quantally just one. The fundamental reason for this quantum speedup is not known. The usual representation of the quantum algorithm is limited to the process of solving the problem. We extend it to the process of setting the problem. The number of the drawer with the ball becomes a unitary transformation of the random outcome of (...) the preparation measurement. This extended, time-symmetric, representation brings in relational quantummechanics. It is with respect to Bob and any external observer and cannot be with respect to Alice. It would tell her the number of the drawer with the ball before she opens any drawer. To Alice, the projection of the quantum state due to the preparation measurement should be retarded at the end of her search; in the input state of the search, the drawer number is determined to Bob and undetermined to Alice. We show that, mathematically, one can ascribe any part of the selection of the random outcome of the preparation measurement to the final Alice’s measurement. Ascribing half of it explains the speedup of the present algorithm. This leaves the input state to Bob unaltered and projects that to Alice on a state of lower entropy where she knows half of the number of the drawer with the ball in advance. The quantum algorithm turns out to be a sum over histories in each of which Alice knows in advance that the ball is in a pair of drawers and locates it by opening one of the two. In the sample of quantum algorithms examined, the part of the random outcome of the initial measurement selected by the final measurement is one half or slightly above it. Conversely, given an oracle problem, the assumption it is one half always corresponds to an existing quantum algorithm and gives the order of magnitude of the number of oracle queries required by the optimal one. (shrink)
We make a first attempt to axiomatically formulate the Montevideo interpretation of quantummechanics. In this interpretation environmental decoherence is supplemented with loss of coherence due to the use of realistic clocks to measure time to solve the measurement problem. The resulting formulation is framed entirely in terms of quantum objects without having to invoke the existence of measurable classical quantities like the time in ordinary quantummechanics. The formulation eliminates any privileged role to the (...) measurement process giving an objective definition of when an event occurs in a system. (shrink)
In the area of the foundations of quantummechanics a true industry appears to have developed in the last decades, with the aim of proving as many results as possible concerning what there cannot be in the quantum realm. In principle, the significance of proving ‘no-go’ results should consist in clarifying the fundamental structure of the theory, by pointing out a class of basic constraints that the theory itself is supposed to satisfy. In the present paper I (...) will discuss some more recent no-go claims and I will argue against the deep significance of these results, with a two-fold strategy. First, I will consider three results concerning respectively local realism, quantum covariance and predictive power in quantummechanics, and I will try to show how controversial the main conditions of the negative theorem turn out to be—something that strongly undermines the general relevance of these theorems. Second, I will try to discuss what I take to be a common feature of these theoretical enterprises, namely that of aiming at establishing negative results for quantummechanics in absence of a deeper understanding of the overall ontological content and structure of the theory. I will argue that the only way toward such an understanding may be to cast in advance the problems in a clear and well-defined interpretational framework—which in my view means primarily to specify the ontology that quantum theory is supposed to be about—and after to wonder whether problems that seemed worth pursuing still are so in the framework. (shrink)
The present paper reveals (non-relativistic) quantummechanics as an emergent property of otherwise classical ergodic systems embedded in a stochastic vacuum or zero-point radiation field (zpf). This result provides a theoretical basis for understanding recent numerical experiments in which a statistical analysis of an atomic electron interacting with the zpf furnishes the quantum distribution for the ground state of the H atom. The action of the zpf on matter is essential within the present approach, but it is (...) the ergodic demand what ultimately leads to the matrix formulation of quantummechanics. The paper thus represents a step forward in the quest for an elucidation of the fundamentals of quantummechanics. (shrink)
Contrary to the widespread belief, the problem of the emergence of classical mechanics from quantummechanics is still open. In spite of many results on the ¯h → 0 asymptotics, it is not yet clear how to explain within standard quantummechanics the classical motion of macroscopic bodies. In this paper we shall analyze special cases of classical behavior in the framework of a precise formulation of quantummechanics, Bohmian mechanics, which contains (...) in its own structure the possibility of describing real objects in an observer-independent way. (shrink)
A realistic axiomatic formulation of nonrelativistic quantummechanics for a single microsystem with spin is presented, from which the most important theorems of the theory can be deduced. In comparison with previous formulations, the formal aspect has been improved by the use of certain mathematical theories, such as the theory of equipped spaces, and group theory. The standard formalism is naturally obtained from the latter, starting from a central primitive concept: the Galilei group.
The use of real clocks and measuring rods in quantummechanics implies a natural loss of unitarity in the description of the theory. We briefly review this point and then discuss the implications it has for the measurement problem in quantummechanics. The intrinsic loss of coherence allows to circumvent some of the usual objections to the measurement process as due to environmental decoherence.
The textbook presentation of quantummechanics, in a nutshell, is this. The physical state of any isolated system evolves deterministically in accordance with Schrödinger's equation until a "measurement" of some physical magnitude M (e.g. position, energy, spin) is made. Restricting attention to the case where the values of M are discrete, the system's pre-measurement state-vector f is a linear combination, or "superposition", of vectors f1, f2,... that individually represent states that..
In this paper, possible objections to the propensity microrealistic version of quantummechanics proposed in Part I are answered. This version of quantummechanics is compared with the statistical, particle microrealistic viewpoint, and a crucial experiment is proposed designed to distinguish between these to microrealistic versions of quantummechanics.
If the block universe view is correct, the future and the past have similar status and one would expect physical theories to involve final as well as initial boundary conditions. A plausible consistency condition between the initial and final boundary conditions in non-relativistic quantummechanics leads to the idea that the properties of macroscopic quantum systems, relevantly measuring instruments, are uniquely determined by the boundary conditions. An important element in reaching that conclusion is that preparations and measurements (...) belong in a special class because they involve many subsystems, at least some of which do not form superpositions of their physical properties before the boundary conditions are imposed. It is suggested that the primary role of the formalism of standard quantummechanics is to provide the consistency condition on the boundary conditions rather than the properties of quantum systems. Expressions are proposed for assigning a set of (unmeasured) physical properties to a quantum system at all times. The physical properties avoid the logical inconsistencies implied by the no-go theorems because they are assigned differently from standard quantummechanics. Since measurement outcomes are determined by the boundary conditions, they help determine, rather than are determined by, the physical properties of quantum systems. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that quantummechanics can be interpreted according to a pragmatist approach. The latter consists, first, in giving a pragmatic definition to each term used in microphysics, second, in making explicit the functions any theory must fulfil so as to ensure the success of the research activity in microphysics, and third, in showing that quantummechanics is the only theory which fulfils exactly these functions.
The logic of a physical theory reflects the structure of the propositions referring to the behaviour of a physical system in the domain of the relevant theory. It is argued in relation to classical mechanics that the propositional structure of the theory allows truth-value assignment in conformity with the traditional conception of a correspondence theory of truth. Every proposition in classical mechanics is assigned a definite truth value, either ‘true’ or ‘false’, describing what is actually the case at (...) a certain moment of time. Truth-value assignment in quantummechanics, however, differs; it is known, by means of a variety of ‘no go’ theorems, that it is not possible to assign definite truth values to all propositions pertaining to a quantum system without generating a Kochen–Specker contradiction. In this respect, the Bub–Clifton ‘uniqueness theorem’ is utilized for arguing that truth-value definiteness is consistently restored with respect to a determinate sublattice of propositions defined by the state of the quantum system concerned and a particular observable to be measured. An account of truth of contextual correspondence is thereby provided that is appropriate to the quantum domain of discourse. The conceptual implications of the resulting account are traced down and analyzed at length. In this light, the traditional conception of correspondence truth may be viewed as a species or as a limit case of the more generic proposed scheme of contextual correspondence when the non-explicit specification of a context of discourse poses no further consequences. (shrink)
Einstein made several attempts to argue for the incompleteness of quantummechanics, not all of them using a separation principle. One unpublished example, the box parable, has received increased attention in the recent literature. Though the example is tailor-made for applying a separation principle and Einstein indeed applies one, he begins his discussion without it. An analysis of this first part of the parable naturally leads to an argument for incompleteness not involving a separation principle. I discuss the (...) argument and its systematic import. Though it should be kept in mind that the argument is not the one Einstein intends, I show how it suggests itself and leads to a conflict between QM’s completeness and a physical principle more fundamental than the separation principle, i.e. a principle saying that QM should deliver probabilities for physical systems possessing properties at definite times. (shrink)
Quantummechanics has always been regarded as, at best, puzzling, if not contradictory. The aim of the paper is to explore a particular approach to fundamental physical theories, the one based on the notion of primitive ontology. This approach, when applied to quantummechanics, makes it a paradox-free theory.
This paper analyses Richard Bader’s ‘operational’ view of quantummechanics and the role it plays in the the explanation of chemistry. I argue that QTAIM can partially be reconstructed as an ‘austere’ form of quantummechanics, which is in turn committed to an eliminative concept of reduction that stems from Kemeny and Oppenheim. As a reductive theory in this sense, the theory fails. I conclude that QTAIM has both a regulatory and constructive function in the theories (...) of chemistry. (shrink)