The Dynamical Reduction Program: An Example of a Quantum Theory without Observers

Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 7:43-58 (1999)
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Abstract

After more than 70 years of debate about the difficulties that one encounters in working out a coherent view of physical processes based on the standard formulation of quantum mechanics, there is now a widespread belief that such difficulties do not arise from philosophical prejudices but represent precise mathematical and physical challenges which call for a physical solution. As J.S. Bell appropriately stated1 “the way ahead is unromantic in that it requires mathematical work by theoretical physicists, rather than interpretations by philosophers”. It is also encouraging, for those who share this position, to see that now there are explicit proposals indicating possible ways out in which the process of measurement is analysed not in terms of vague assertions or resorting to ill-defined and/or contradictory dualistic evolution processes but in terms of more fundamental physical concepts. In particular, approaches of this kind, which S. Goldstein3 has appropriately denoted as “observer-free formulations of quantum mechanics”, can be grouped in three categories: the pilot-wave theories: the decoherent histories and the spontaneous localization models

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