The Emergence of the Macroworld: A Study of Intertheory Relations in Classical and Quantum Mechanics

Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1039-1051 (2003)
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Classical mechanics is empirically successful because the probabilistic mean values of quantum mechanical observables follow the classical equations of motion to a good approximation (Messiah 1970, 215). We examine this claim for the one-dimensional motion of a particle in a box, and extend the idea by deriving a special case of the ideal gas law in terms of the mean value of a generalized force used to define "pressure." The examples illustrate the importance of probabilistic averaging as a method of abstracting away from the messy details of microphenomena, not only in physics, but in other sciences as well.



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Malcolm Forster
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Citations of this work

Non-reductive physicalism and degrees of freedom.Jessica Wilson - 2010 - British Journal for Philosophy of Science 61 (2):279-311.
Newtonian Forces.Jessica Wilson - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):173-205.
Non-reductive Physicalism and Degrees of Freedom.Jessica Wilson - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (2):279-311.

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