Losing Your Marbles in Wavefunction Collapse Theories

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (4):697 - 717 (1999)
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Abstract

Peter Lewis ([1997]) has recently argued that the wavefunction collapse theory of GRW (Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber [1986]) can only solve the problem of wavefunction tails at the expense of predicting that arithmetic does not apply to ordinary macroscopic objects. More specifically, Lewis argues that the GRW theory must violate the enumeration principle: that 'if marble 1 is in the box and marble 2 is in the box and so on through marble n, then all n marbles are in the box' ([1997], p. 321). Ghirardi and Bassi ([1999]) have replied that it is meaningless to say that the enumeration principle is violated because the wavefunction Lewis uses to exhibit the violation cannot persist, according to the GRW theory, for more than a split second ([1999], p. 709). On the contrary, we argue that Lewis's argument survives Ghirardi and Bassi' s criticism unscathed. We then go on to show that, while the enumeration principle can fail in the GRW theory, the theory itself guarantees that the principle can never be empirically falsified, leaving the applicability of arithmetical reasoning to both micro- and macroscopic objects intact.

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Citations of this work

GRW as an ontology of dispositions.Mauro Dorato & Michael Esfeld - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (1):41-49.
Collapse theories.Giancarlo Ghirardi - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Probability in GRW theory.Roman Frigg & Carl Hoefer - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38 (2):371-389.
Four Tails Problems for Dynamical Collapse Theories.Kelvin J. McQueen - 2015 - Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 49:10-18.

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References found in this work

The Problem of Hidden Variables in Quantum Mechanics.Simon Kochen & E. P. Specker - 1967 - Journal of Mathematics and Mechanics 17:59--87.
A New Approach to Quantum Logic.J. L. Bell - 1986 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37 (1):83-99.
Quantum mechanics, orthogonality, and counting.Peter J. Lewis - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):313-328.

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