From Quantum Gravity to Classical Phenomena

In Tilman Sauer & Adrian Wüthrich (eds.), New Vistas on Old Problems. Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge (2013)
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Quantum gravity is supposed to be the most fundamental theory, including a quantum theory of the metrical field (spacetime). However, it is not clear how a quantum theory of gravity could account for classical phenomena, including notably measurement outcomes. But all the evidence that we have for a physical theory is based on measurement outcomes. We consider this problem in the framework of canonical quantum gravity, pointing out a dilemma: all the available accounts that admit classical phenomena presuppose entities with a well-defined spatio-temporal localization (“local beables” in John Bell's terms) as primitive. But there seems to be no possibility to include such primitives in canonical quantum gravity. However, if one does not do so, it is not clear how entities that are supposed to be ontologically prior to spacetime could give rise to entities that then are spatio-temporally localized.



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Michael Esfeld
University of Lausanne
Antonio Vassallo
Warsaw University of Technology