This is a prize-winning study of an area of physics not previously explored by philosophy: gauge theory. Gauge theories have provided our most successful representations of the fundamental forces of nature. But how do such representations work? Healey defends an original answer to this question.
Quantum theory launched a revolution in physics. But we have yet to understand the revolution's significance for philosophy. Richard Healey opens a path to such understanding. The first part of this book offers a self-contained but opinionated introduction to quantum theory. The second part assesses the theory's philosophical significance.
This is one of the most important books on quantum mechanics to have appeared in recent years. It offers a dramatically new interpretation that resolves puzzles and paradoxes associated with the measurement problem and the behavior of coupled systems. A crucial feature of this interpretation is that a quantum mechanical measurement can be certain to have a particular outcome even when the observed system fails to have the property corresponding to that outcome just prior to the measurement interaction.
While its applications have made quantum theory arguably the most successful theory in physics, its interpretation continues to be the subject of lively debate within the community of physicists and philosophers concerned with conceptual foundations. This situation poses a problem for a pragmatist for whom meaning derives from use. While disputes about how to use quantum theory have arisen from time to time, they have typically been quickly resolved, and consensus reached, within the relevant scientific sub-community. Yet rival accounts of (...) the meaning of quantum theory continue to proliferate . In this article I offer a diagnosis of this situation and outline a pragmatist solution to the problem it poses, leaving further details for subsequent articles. (shrink)
In this article, we develop and defend an account of the normative significance of nonhuman animal agency. In particular, we examine how animals’ agency interests impact upon the moral permissibility of our interactions with them. First, we defend the claim that nonhuman animals sometimes have rights to self-determination. However, unlike typical adult humans, nonhuman animals cannot exercise this right through the giving or withholding of consent. This combination of claims generates a puzzle about the permissibility of our interactions with nonhuman (...) animals. If animals sometimes have rights to self-determination, but lack the capacity to consent, then when, if ever, is it permissible for us to touch them, hold them, bathe them, or confine them? In the second half of the article, we develop a solution to this puzzle. We argue that while we cannot obtain animals’ consent, they can engage in authoritative communications of will through acts of “assent” and “dissent.”. (shrink)
Three recent arguments seek to show that the universal applicability of unitary quantum theory is inconsistent with the assumption that a well-conducted measurement always has a definite physical outcome. In this paper I restate and analyze these arguments. The import of the first two is diminished by their dependence on assumptions about the outcomes of counterfactual measurements. But the third argument establishes its intended conclusion. Even if every well-conducted quantum measurement we ever make will have a definite physical outcome, this (...) argument should make us reconsider the objectivity of that outcome. (shrink)
Atomistic metaphysics motivated an explanatory strategy which science has pursued with great success since the scientific revolution. By decomposing matter into its atomic and subatomic parts physics gave us powerful explanations and accurate predictions as well as providing a unifying framework for the rest of science. The success of the decompositional strategy has encouraged a widespread conviction that the physical world forms a compositional hierarchy that physics and other sciences are progressively articulating. But this conviction does not stand up to (...) a closer examination of how physics has treated composition, as a variety of case studies will show. (shrink)
At first sight the Aharonov- Bohm effect appears nonlocal, though not in the way EPR/Bell correlations are generally acknowledged to be nonlocal. This paper applies an analysis of nonlocality to the Aharonov- Bohm effect to show that its peculiarities may be blamed either on a failure of a principle of local action or on a failure of a principle of separability. Different interpretations of quantum mechanics disagree on how blame should be allocated. The parallel between the Aharonov- Bohm effect and (...) violations of Bell inequalities turns out to be so close that a balanced assessment of the nature and significance of quantum nonlocality requires a detailed study of both effects. (shrink)
While empirical symmetries relate situations, theoretical symmetries relate models of a theory we use to represent them. An empirical symmetry is perfect if and only if any two situations it relates share all intrinsic properties. Sometimes one can use a theory to explain an empirical symmetry by showing how it follows from a corresponding theoretical symmetry. The theory then reveals a perfect symmetry. I say what this involves and why it matters, beginning with a puzzle that is resolved by the (...) subsequent analysis. I conclude by pointing to applications and implications of the ideas developed earlier in the paper. (shrink)
Classically, a gauge potential was merely a convenient device for generating a corresponding gauge field. Quantum-mechanically, a gauge potential lays claim to independent status as a further feature of the physical situation. But whether this is a local or a global feature is not made any clearer by the variety of mathematical structures used to represent it. I argue that in the theory of electromagnetism (or a non-Abelian generalization) that describes quantum particles subject to a classical interaction, the gauge potential (...) is best understood as a feature of the physical situation whose global character is most naturally represented by the holonomies of closed curves in space-time. (shrink)
The conceptual and technical difficulties involved in creating a quantum theory of gravity have led some physicists to question, and even in some cases to deny, the reality of time. More surprisingly, this denial has found a sympathetic audience among certain philosophers of physics. What should we make of these wild ideas? Does it even make sense to deny the reality of time? In fact physical science has been chipping away at common sense aspects of time ever since its inception. (...) Section 1 offers a brief survey of the demolition process. Section 2 distinguishes a tempered from an extremely radical form that a denial of time might take, and argues that extreme radicalism is empirically self-refuting. Section 3 begins an investigation of the prospects for tempered radicalism in a timeless theory of quantum gravity. (shrink)
It has sometimes been suggested that quantum phenomena exhibit a characteristic holism or nonseparability, and that this distinguishes quantum from classical physics. One puzzling quantum phenomenon arises when one performs measurements of spin or polarization on certain separated quantum systems. The results of these measurements exhibit patterns of statistical correlation that resist traditional causal explanation. Some have held that it is possible to understand these patterns as instances or consequences of quantum holism or nonseparability. Just what holism and nonseparability are (...) supposed to be has not always been made clear, though, and each of these notions has been understood in different ways. Moreover, while some have taken holism and nonseparability to come to the same thing, others have thought it important to distinguish the two. Any evaluation of the significance of quantum holism and/or nonseparability must rest on a careful analysis of these notions. (shrink)
Highly idealized models, such as the Hawk-Dove game, are pervasive in biological theorizing. We argue that the process and motivation that leads to the introduction of various idealizations into these models is not adequately captured by Michael Weisberg’s taxonomy of three kinds of idealization. Consequently, a fourth kind of idealization is required, which we call hypothetical pattern idealization. This kind of idealization is used to construct models that aim to be explanatory but do not aim to be explanations.
I offer an account of how the quantum theory we have helps us explain so much. The account depends on a pragmatist interpretation of the theory: this takes a quantum state to serve as a source of sound advice to physically situated agents on the content and appropriate degree of belief about matters concerning which they are currently inevitably ignorant. The general account of how to use quantum states and probabilities to explain otherwise puzzling regularities is then illustrated by showing (...) how we can explain single-particle interference phenomena, the stability of matter, and interference of Bose–Einstein condensates. Finally, I note some open problems and relate this account to alternative approaches to explanation that emphasize the importance of causation, of unification, and of structure. 1 Introduction2 Two Requirements on Explanations in Physics3 What We Can use Quantum Theory to Explain4 The Function of Quantum States and Born Probabilities5 How These Functions Contribute to the Explanatory Task6 Example One: Single-Particle Interference7 Example Two: Explanation of the Stability of Matter8 Example Three: Bose Condensation9 Conclusion. (shrink)
If physical reality is nonseparable, as quantum mechanics suggests, then it may contain processes of a quite novel kind. Such nonseparable processes could connect space-like separated events without violating relativity theory or any defensible locality condition. Appeal to nonseparable processes could ground theoretical explanations of such otherwise puzzling phenomena as the two-slit experiment, and EPR- type correlations. We find such phenomena puzzling because they threaten cherished conceptions of how causes operate to produce their effects. But nonseparable processes offer us an (...) alternative deal of natural order, conformity to which makes such phenomena seem quite normal and not at all unexpected. Attempts to answer the further question, as to whether an appeal to a nonseparable process provides a genuine "causal" explanation, have something to teach us about our concept of causation, but do not threaten to undermine the value of the explanation itself. (shrink)
I offer an account of how the quantum theory we have helps us explain the enormous variety of phenomena it is generally taken to explain. The account depends on what I have elsewhere called a pragmatist interpretation of the theory. This rejects views according to which a quantum state describes or represents a physical system, holding instead that it functions as a source of sound advice to physically situated agents like us on the content and appropriate degree of belief about (...) matters concerning which they are currently inevitably ignorant. So while the account given here is incompatible with some views of structural explanation in quantum theory it is nevertheless able to incorporate what I take to be their valuable insights. (shrink)
Realism comes in many varieties, in science and elsewhere. Van Fraassen's influential formulation took scientific realism to include the view that science aims to give us, in its theories, a literally true story of what the world is like. So understood, a quantum realist takes quantum theory to aim at correctly representing the world: many would add that its success justifies believing this representation is more or less correct. But quantum realism has been understood both more narrowly and more broadly. (...) A pragmatist considers use prior to representation and this has prompted some to dub pragmatist views anti-realist, including the view of quantum theory I have been developing recently. But whether a pragmatist view of quantum theory should be labeled anti-realist depends not only on its ingredients but also on how that label should be applied. Pragmatism offers a healthy diet of quantum realism. (shrink)
A quantum state represents neither properties of a physical system nor anyone’s knowledge of its properties. The important question is not what quantum states represent but how they are used—as informational bridges. Knowing about some physical situations, an agent may assign a quantum state to form expectations about other possible physical situations. Quantum states are objective: only expectations based on correct state assignments are generally reliable. If a quantum state represents anything, it is the objective probabilistic relations between its backing (...) conditions and its advice conditions. This paper offers an account of quantum states and their function as informational bridges, in quantum teleportation and elsewhere. (shrink)
Those looking for holism in contemporary physics have focused their attention primarily on quantum entanglement. But some gauge theories arguably also manifest the related phenomenon of nonseparability. While the argument is strong for the classical gauge theory describing electromagnetic interactions with quantum “particles”, it fails in the case of general relativity even though that theory may also be formulated in terms of a connection on a principal fiber bundle. Anandan has highlighted the key difference in his analysis of a supposed (...) gravitational analog to the Aharonov-Bohm effect. By contrast with electromagnetism in the original Aharonov-Bohm effect, gravitation is separable and exhibits no novel holism in this case. Whether the nonseparability of classical gauge theories of non-gravitational interactions is associated with holism depends on what counts as the relevant part-whole relation. Loop representations of quantized gauge theories of non- gravitational interactions suggest that these conclusions about holism and nonseparability may extend also to quantum theories of the associated fields. (shrink)
Quantum mechanics predicted the Aharonov-Bohm effect and violations of Bell inequalities before either phenomenon was experimentally verified. It is now commonly taken to explain both phenomena. Maudlin has pointed out significant disanalogies between these phenomena. But he has failed to appreciate the striking analogy that emerges when one examines the structure of their quantum mechanical explanations. The fact that each may be explained quantum mechanically in terms of a locally-acting, but nonseparable process suggests that the lesson of quantum nonlocality may (...) be that while there is no action at a distance, the world is nonseparable. (shrink)
This paper compares and contrasts relational quantum mechanics with a pragmatist view of quantum theory. I first explain important points of agreement. Then I point to two problems faced by RQM and sketch DP?s solutions to analogous problems. Since both RQM and DP have taken the Born rule to require relative facts I next say what these might be. My main objection to RQM as originally conceived is that its ontology of relative facts is incompatible with scientific objectivity and undercuts (...) the evidential base of quantum theory. In contrast DP?s relative facts have all the objectivity we need to accept quantum theory as scientific knowledge. But a very recent modification to RQM has successfully addressed my main objection,bringing the two views into even closer alignment. (shrink)
Quantum entanglement is widely believed to be a feature of physical reality with undoubted (though debated) metaphysical implications. But Schrödinger introduced entanglement as a theoretical relation between representatives of the quantum states of two systems. Entanglement represents a physical relation only if quantum states are elements of physical reality. So arguments for metaphysical holism or nonseparability from entanglement rest on a questionable view of quantum theory. Assignment of entangled quantum states predicts experimentally confirmed violation of Bell inequalities. Can one use (...) these experimental results to argue directly for metaphysical conclusions? No. Quantum theory itself gives us our best explanation of violations of Bell inequalities, with no superluminal causal influences and no metaphysical holism or nonseparability—but only if quantum states are understood as objective and relational, though prescriptive rather than ontic. Correct quantum state assignments are backed by true physical magnitude claims: but backing is not grounding. Quantum theory supports no general metaphysical holism or nonseparability; though a claim about a compound physical system may be significant and true while similar claims about its components are neither. Entanglement may well have have few, if any, first-order metaphysical implications. But the quantum theory of entanglement has much to teach the metaphysician about the roles of chance, causation, modality and explanation in the epistemic and practical concerns of a physically situated agent. (shrink)
The integration of recent work on decoherence into a so-called modal interpretation offers a promising new approach to the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. In this paper I explain and develop this approach in the context of the interactive interpretation presented in Healey (1989). I begin by questioning a number of assumptions which are standardly made in setting up the measurement problem, and I conclude that no satisfactory solution can afford to ignore the influence of the environment. Further, I argue (...) that there are good reasons to believe that on a modal interpretation environmental interactions rapidly ensure that a quantummechanically describable apparatus indeed records a definite result following a measurement interaction. (shrink)
A closer look at some proposed Gedanken-experiments on BECs promises to shed light on several aspects of reduction and emergence in physics. These include the relations between classical descriptions and different quantum treatments of macroscopic systems, and the emergence of new properties and even new objects as a result of spontaneous symmetry breaking.
In his recent work, Michael Redhead (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990) has introduced a condition he calls robustness which, he argues, a relation must satisfy in order to be causal. He has used this condition to argue further that EPR-type correlations are neither the result of a direct causal connection between the correlated events, nor the result of a common cause associated with the source of the particle pairs which feature in these events. Andrew Elby (1992) has used this same condition (...) as a premise in an independent argument for the conclusion that EPR-type correlations cannot be causally explained (except, perhaps, by a nonlocal hidden variable theory). I wish to argue here that robustness is itself too fragile a notion to support such conclusions. (shrink)
The normative power of consent plays a central role in enabling individuals to permissibly interact with one another. However, in the philosophical literature, the relationship between consent and permissible action is not always well understood. In this article I outline an account of the normative effect of valid consent, in order to clarify this relationship. I first argue that consent’s primary moral significance lies in its effect upon our interpersonal moral relationships. Specifically, I argue that valid consent serves to cancel (...) a directed duty owed to the consenter. Other things being equal, this equips the consentee with a directed permission: they will no longer wrong the consenter by acting in the consented to manner. However, this account does not yet explain how consent impacts upon the all things considered permissibility of an action. On the assumption that all things considered permissibility is a function of an agent’s reasons for action, we require an account of consent’s effect on those reasons. I consider, and then reject, Michelle Dempsey’s recent suggestion that consent affects a consentee’s reasons for action by granting them an exclusionary permission. I propose that we should instead understand consent to function as a cancelling permission. (shrink)
The work of Gleason and of Kochen and Specker has been thought to refute a naïve realist approach to quantum mechanics. The argument of this paper substantially bears out this conclusion. The assumptions required by their work are not arbitrary, but have sound theoretical justification. Moreover, if they are false, there seems no reason why their falsity should not be demonstrable in some sufficiently ingenious experiment. Suitably interpreted, the work of Bell and Wigner may be seen to yield independent arguments (...) for the falsity of naïve realistic approach to quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is no more like classical statistical mechanics than its creators thought it was. (shrink)
All change involves temporal variation of properties. There is change in the physical world only if genuine physical magnitudes take on different values at different times. I defend the possibility of change in a general relativistic world against two skeptical arguments recently presented by John Earman. Each argument imposes severe restrictions on what may count as a genuine physical magnitude in general relativity. These restrictions seem justified only as long as one ignores the fact that genuine change in a relativistic (...) world is frame-dependent. I argue on the contrary that there are genuine physical magnitudes whose values typically vary with the time of some frame, and that these include most familiar measurable quantities. Frame-dependent temporal variation in these magnitudes nevertheless supervenes on the unchanging values of more basic physical magnitudes in a general relativistic world. Basic magnitudes include those that realize an observer's occupation of a frame. Change is a significant and observable feature of a general relativistic world only because our situation in such a world naturally picks out a relevant class of frames, even if we lack the descriptive resources to say how they are realized by the values of basic underlying physical magnitudes. (shrink)
The quantum theory of decoherence plays an important role in a pragmatist interpretation of quantum theory. It governs the descriptive content of claims about values of physical magnitudes and offers advice on when to use quantum probabilities as a guide to their truth. The content of a claim is to be understood in terms of its role in inferences. This promises a better treatment of meaning than that offered by Bohr. Quantum theory models physical systems with no mention of measurement: (...) it is decoherence, not measurement, that licenses application of Born’s probability rule. So quantum theory also offers advice on its own application. I show how this works in a simple model of decoherence, and then in applications to both laboratory experiments and natural systems. Applications to quantum field theory and the measurement problem will be discussed elsewhere. (shrink)
Quantum entanglement is widely believed to be a feature of physical reality with undoubted metaphysical implications. But Schrödinger introduced entanglement as a theoretical relation between representatives of the quantum states of two systems. Entanglement represents a physical relation only if quantum states are elements of physical reality. So arguments for metaphysical holism or nonseparability from entanglement rest on a questionable view of quantum theory. Assignment of entangled quantum states predicts experimentally confirmed violation of Bell inequalities. Can one use these experimental (...) results to argue directly for metaphysical conclusions? No. Quantum theory itself gives us our best explanation of violations of Bell inequalities, with no superluminal causal influences and no metaphysical holism or nonseparability—but only if quantum states are understood as objective and relational, though prescriptive rather than ontic. Correct quantum state assignments are backed by true physical magnitude claims: but backing is not grounding. Quantum theory supports no general metaphysical holism or nonseparability; though a claim about a compound physical system may be significant and true while similar claims about its components are neither. Entanglement may well have have few, if any, first-order metaphysical implications. But the quantum theory of entanglement has much to teach the metaphysician about the roles of chance, causation, modality and explanation in the epistemic and practical concerns of a physically situated agent. (shrink)
In papers published in the 25 years following his famous 1964 proof John Bell refined and reformulated his views on locality and causality. Although his formulations of local causality were in terms of probability, he had little to say about that notion. But assumptions about probability are implicit in his arguments and conclusions. Probability does not conform to these assumptions when quantum mechanics is applied to account for the particular correlations Bell argues are locally inexplicable. This account involves no superluminal (...) action and there is even a sense in which it is local, but it is in tension with the requirement that the direct causes and effects of events are nearby. (shrink)
Much of the debate around requirements for the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples has focused on enabling indigenous communities to participate in various forms of democratic decision-making alongside the state and other actors. Against this backdrop, this article sets out to defend three claims. The first two of these claims are conceptual in nature: (i) Giving (collective) consent and participating in the making of (collective) decisions are distinct activities; (ii) Despite some scepticism, there is a coherent conception (...) of collective consent available to us, continuous with the notion of individual consent familiar from discussions in medical and sexual ethics. The third claim is normative: (iii) Participants in debates about free, prior, and informed consent must keep this distinction in view. That is because a group’s ability to give or withhold consent, and not only participate in making decisions, will play an important role in realising that collectives’ right to self-determination. (shrink)
I think van Fraassen is right to see the development of quantum mechanics as a turning point for physical science with a profound moral for philosophy, and not just for the philosophy of science. But the moral is not that even a completely successful physical theory may fail to account for the appearances by showing how they arise within the reality it represents. The moral is more radical: it is that a physical theory – even a fundamental theory – may (...) be completely successful in all its applications without offering a representation of reality at all. (shrink)