This book comprises all of John Bell's published and unpublished papers in the field of quantummechanics, including two papers that appeared after the first edition was published.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)
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and the sort of ‘primitivism’ that denies that facts of identity and individuality must be analysable has become outdated.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)
*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.
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)
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)
The UNBELIEVABLE similar ideas between Theise and Menas’ ideas (2016) and my ideas (2002-2008) in Physics and Cognitive Neuroscience and Philosophy (the mind-brain problem, quantummechanics, etc.) -/- (2016) Theise D. Neil (Department of Pathology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA) and Kafatos C. Menas (bDepartment of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA; cSchmid College of Science & Technology, Chapman University, Orange, CA, USA) (2016), REVIEW - Fundamental (...) awareness: A framework for integrating science, philosophy and metaphysics, in COMMUNICATIVE & INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY, 2016, VOL. 9, NO. 3, e1155010 (19 pages), http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19420889.2016.1155010 -/- A friend of mine indicated me the strike similarities between Theise and Kafatos’ ideas in their book (Fundamental awareness: A framework for integrating science, philosophy and metaphysics) and my ideas in 2002-20008! I do not have access to this book, but I investigate the ideas that are in a review about this work. Let me introduce the abstract of that Review: -/- The ontologic framework of Fundamental Awareness proposed here assumes that non-dual Awareness is foundational to the universe, not arising from the interactions or structures of higher level phenomena. The framework allows comparison and integration of views from the three investigative domains concerned with understanding the nature of consciousness: science, philosophy, and metaphysics. In this framework, Awareness is the underlying reality, not reducible to anything else. Awareness and existence are the same. As such, the universe is non-material, self-organizing throughout, a holarchy of complementary, process driven, recursive interactions. The universe is both its own first observer and subject. Considering the world to be non-material and comprised, a priori, of Awareness is to privilege information over materiality, action over agency and to understand that qualia are not a “hard problem,” but the foundational elements of all existence. These views fully reflect main stream Western philosophical traditions, insights from culturally diverse contemplative and mystical traditions, and are in keeping with current scientific thinking, expressible mathematically. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Definitions I presented in a previous article as part of a semantic approach in epistemology assumed that the concept of derivability from standard logic held across all mathematical and scientific disciplines. The present article argues that this assumption is not true for quantummechanics (QM) by showing that concepts of validity applicable to proofs in mathematics and in classical mechanics are inapplicable to proofs in QM. Because semantic epistemology must include this important theory, revision is necessary. The (...) one I propose also extends semantic epistemology beyond the ‘hard’ sciences. The article ends by presenting and then refuting some responses QM theorists might make to my arguments. (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 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)
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.
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
This paper shows how the classical finite probability theory (with equiprobable outcomes) can be reinterpreted and recast as the quantum probability calculus of a pedagogical or toy model of quantummechanics over sets (QM/sets). There have been several previous attempts to develop a quantum-like model with the base field of ℂ replaced by ℤ₂. Since there are no inner products on vector spaces over finite fields, the problem is to define the Dirac brackets and the probability (...) calculus. The previous attempts all required the brackets to take values in ℤ₂. But the usual QM brackets <ψ|ϕ> give the "overlap" between states ψ and ϕ, so for subsets S,T⊆U, the natural definition is <S|T>=|S∩T| (taking values in the natural numbers). This allows QM/sets to be developed with a full probability calculus that turns out to be a non-commutative extension of classical Laplace-Boole finite probability theory. The pedagogical model is illustrated by giving simple treatments of the indeterminacy principle, the double-slit experiment, Bell's Theorem, and identical particles in QM/Sets. A more technical appendix explains the mathematics behind carrying some vector space structures between QM over ℂ and QM/Sets over ℤ₂. (shrink)
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.
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..
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)
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.
It is an unresolved question in quantummechanics whether quantum states apply to individual quantum systems, or to ensembles of quantum systems. We show by way of a thought experiment that quantum states apply only to ensembles of quantum systems. A further unresolved question is whether quantum systems possess ontic states. If a quantum state is the state of an ensemble, as we claim, the answer to this question is that (...) class='Hi'>quantum states are not ontic. However, a notable recent result in quantum foundations shows that if there are any ontic states at all, then the quantum state must be ontic. Collectively, these two results imply that there are no ontic states. We examine the assumptions required for these results, and suggest that the retrospective effect on state preparations by entangling measurements provides good reason for relaxing the assumption of preparation independence at the ontic level. (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.
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)
What is quantummechanics about? The most natural way to interpret quantummechanics realistically as a theory about the world might seem to be what is called wave function ontology: the view according to which the wave function mathematically represents in a complete way fundamentally all there is in the world. Erwin Schroedinger was one of the first proponents of such a view, but he dismissed it after he realized it led to macroscopic superpositions (if the (...) wave function evolves in time according to the equations that has his name). The Many-Worlds interpretation1 accepts the existence of such macroscopic superpositions but takes it that they can never be observed. Superposed objects and superposed observers split together in different worlds of the type of the one we appear to live in. For these who, like Schroedinger, think that macroscopic superpositions are a problem, the common wisdom is that there are two alternative views: "Either the wave function, as given by the Schroedinger equation, is not everything, or is not right" [Bell 1987]. The deBroglie-Bohm theory, now commonly known as Bohmian Mechanics, takes the first option: the description provided by a Schroedinger-evolving wave function is supplemented by the information provided by the configuration of the particles. The second possibility consists in assuming that, while the wave function provides the complete description of the system, its temporal evolution is not given by the Schroedinger equation. Rather, the usual Schroedinger evolution is interrupted by random and sudden "collapses". The most promising theory of this kind is the GRW theory, named after the scientists that developed it: Gian Carlo Ghirardi, Alberto Rimini and Tullio Weber.. It seems tempting to think that in GRW we can take the wave function ontologically seriously and avoid the problem of macroscopic superpositions just allowing for quantum jumps. In this paper we will argue that such "bare" wave function ontology is not possible, neither for GRW nor for any other quantum theory: quantummechanics cannot be about the wave function simpliciter. That is, we need more structure than the one provided by the wave function. As a response, quantum theories about the wave function can be supplemented with structure, without taking it as an additional ontology. We argue in reply that such "dressed-up" versions of wave function ontology are not sensible, since they compromise the acceptability of the theory as a satisfactory fundamental physical theory. Therefore we maintain that: 1- Strictly speaking, it is not possible to interpret quantum theories as theories about the wave function; 2- Even if the wave function is supplemented by additional non-ontological structures, there are reasons not to take the resulting theory seriously. Moreover, we will argue that any of the traditional responses to the measurement problem of quantummechanics (Bohmian mechanics, GRW and Many-Worlds), contrarily to what commonly believed, share a common structure. That is, we maintain that: 3- All quantum theories should be regarded as theories in which physical objects are constituted by a primitive ontology. The primitive ontology is mathematically represented in the theory by a mathematical entity in three-dimensional space, or space-time. (shrink)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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 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 paper summarizes, generalizes and reveals the physical content of a recently proposed framework that unifies the standard formalisms of special relativity and quantummechanics. The framework is based on Hilbert spaces H of functions of four space-time variables x,t, furnished with an additional indefinite inner product invariant under Poincaré transformations. The indefinite metric is responsible for breaking the symmetry between space and time variables and for selecting a family of Hilbert subspaces that are preserved under Galileo transformations. (...) Within these subspaces the usual quantummechanics with Shrödinger evolution and t as the evolution parameter is derived. Simultaneously, the Minkowski space-time is embedded into H as a set of point-localized states, Poincaré transformations obtain unique extensions to H and the embedding commutes with Poincaré transformations. Furthermore, the framework accommodates arbitrary pseudo-Riemannian space-times furnished with the action of the diffeomorphism group. (shrink)
The standard axiomatization of quantummechanics (QM) is not fully explicit about the role of the time-parameter. Especially, the time reference within the probability algorithm (the Born Rule, BR) is unclear. From a probability principle P1 and a second principle P2 affording a most natural way to make BR precise, a logical conflict with the standard expression for the completeness of QM can be derived. Rejecting P1 is implausible. Rejecting P2 leads to unphysical results and to a conflict (...) with a generalization of P2, a principle P3. All three principles are shown to be without alternative. It is thus shown that the standard expression of QM completeness must be revised. An absolutely explicit form of the axioms is provided, including a precise form of the projection postulate. An appropriate expression for QM completeness, reflecting the restrictions of the Gleason and Kochen-Specker theorems is proposed. (shrink)
Experimental situations in which we observe quantum effects that deviate from the intuitive expectations of the classical world call for an interdisciplinary discussion, and one fundamental issue to be considered is the compatibility between the description of phenomena and the assumption of an objective reality. This paper discusses the ontological interpretation of Bohmian quantummechanics, focusing on the use of the term “trajectory” and the difficulties associated with its connection to a “real” (objective) trajectory. My conclusion is (...) that the intended realistic interpretation of Bohmian trajectories is highly questionable.Los contextos experimentales que permiten la observación de efectos cuánticos contrarios a los esperables según la intuición clásica son especialmente adecuados para una discusión multidisciplinar, en particular sobre la compatibilidad entre la descripción fenomenológica y una pretendida realidad subyacente. Este artículo discute la interpretación ontológica de la mecánica cuántica en la interpretación de Bohm, centrándose principalmente en su uso del término “trayectoria” y las dificultades inherentes a su conexión con un concepto “real” (objetivo) de la misma. La conclusión es que la pretendida interpretación realista de las trayectorias bohmianas es muy cuestionable. (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)
Although the present paper looks upon the formal apparatus of quantummechanics as a calculus of correlations, it goes beyond a purely operationalist interpretation. Having established the consistency of the correlations with the existence of their correlata, and having justified the distinction between a domain in which outcome-indicating events occur and a domain whose properties only exist if their existence is indicated by such events, it explains the difference between the two domains as essentially the difference between the (...) manifested world and its manifestation. A single, intrinsically undifferentiated Being manifests the macroworld by entering into reflexive spatial relations. This atemporal process implies a new kind of causality and sheds new light on the mysterious nonlocality of quantummechanics. Unlike other realist interpretations, which proceed from an evolving-states formulation, the present interpretation proceeds from Feynman’s formulation of the theory, and it introduces a new interpretive principle, replacing the collapse postulate and the eigenvalue–eigenstate link of evolving-states formulations. Applied to alternatives involving distinctions between regions of space, this principle implies that the spatiotemporal differentiation of the physical world is incomplete. Applied to alternatives involving distinctions between things, it warrants the claim that, intrinsically, all fundamental particles are identical in the strong sense of numerical identical. They are the aforementioned intrinsically undifferentiated Being, which manifests the macroworld by entering into reflexive spatial relations. (shrink)
Several errors in Stapp's interpretation of quantummechanics and its application to mental causation (Henry P. Stapp, “Quantum theory and the role of mind in nature,” Foundations of Physics 31, 1465–1499 (2001)) are pointed out. An interpretation of (standard) quantummechanics that avoids these errors is presented.
In this paper we unravel the connection between the quantum mechanical formalism and the Central limit theorem (CLT). We proceed to connect the results coming from this theorem with the derivations of the Schrödinger equation from the Liouville equation, presented by ourselves in other papers. In those papers we had used the concept of an infinitesimal parameter δx that raised some controversy. The status of this infinitesimal parameter is then elucidated in the framework of the CLT. Finally, we use (...) the formal apparatus developed in our previous papers and the results of the present one to advance an alternative objective interpretation of quantummechanics in which its relations with the classical framework are made explicit. The relations between our approach and those using the Wigner–Moyal transformation are also addressed. (shrink)
E. Schro¨dinger’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 Schro¨dinger’s retention of space–time continuity and his relinquishment of the corpuscularian understanding of microphysical systems. Several of these historical re-examinations claim that Schro¨dinger refrained from pursuing his 1926 wave-mechanical interpretation of quantummechanics under pressure from the Copenhagen and Go¨ttingen 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 Schro¨dinger’s decision and, accordingly, to a rather different understanding of the dialogue between Schro¨dinger and N. Bohr, who refuted Schro¨dinger’s arguments. Bohr’s critique of Schro¨dinger’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 Schro¨dinger’s rejection of full-blown classical entities, Bohr argued that these results demonstrated the corpuscular nature of atomic interactions. I argue that it was Schro¨dinger’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 Schro¨dinger’s ideas and motivated, at least in part, his own pursuit of his complementarity principle. However, in 1935 Schro¨dinger 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 Schro¨dinger may have perceived even the reformulated wave-mechanical approach as too tenuous in light of Bohr’s critique. (shrink)
The Copenhagen interpretation is critically considered. A number of ambiguities, inconsistencies and confusions are discussed. It is argued that it is possible to purge the interpretation so as to obtain a consistent and reasonable way to interpret the mathematical formalism of quantummechanics, which is in agreement with the way this theory is dealt with in experimental practice. In particular, the essential role attributed by the Copenhagen interpretation to measurement is acknowledged. For this reason it is proposed to (...) refer to it as a neo-Copenhagen interpretation. (shrink)