When champions meet: Rethinking the Bohr–Einstein debate

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (1):212-242 (2005)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Einstein's philosophy of physics (as clarified by Fine, Howard, and Held) was predicated on his Trennungsprinzip, a combination of separability and locality, without which he believed objectification, and thereby "physical thought" and "physical laws", to be impossible. Bohr's philosophy (as elucidated by Hooker, Scheibe, Folse, Howard, Held, and others), on the other hand, was grounded in a seemingly different doctrine about the possibility of objective knowledge, namely the necessity of classical concepts. In fact, it follows from Raggio's Theorem in algebraic quantum theory that - within an appropriate class of physical theories - suitable mathematical translations of the doctrines of Bohr and Einstein are equivalent. Thus - upon our specific formalization - quantum mechanics accommodates Einstein's Trennungsprinzip if and only if it is interpreted a la Bohr through classical physics. Unfortunately, the protagonists themselves failed to discuss their differences in this constructive way, since their debate was dominated by Einstein's ingenious but ultimately flawed attempts to establish the "incompleteness" of quantum mechanics. This aspect of their debate may still be understood and appreciated, however, as reflecting a much deeper and insurmountable disagreement between Bohr and Einstein about the knowability of Nature. Using the theological controversy on the knowability of God as a analogy, we can say that Einstein was a Spinozist, whereas Bohr could be said to be on the side of Maimonides. Thus Einstein's off-the-cuff characterization of Bohr as a 'Talmudic philosopher' was spot-on.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,031

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

When champions meet: Rethinking the Bohr–Einstein debate.Nicolaas P. Landsman - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 (1):212-242.
Modern physics and problems of knowledge.Paul M. Clark (ed.) - 1981 - Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Understanding Einstein’s Viewpoint on Quantum Mechanics.Fátima Masot-Conde - 2015 - Acta Baltica Historiae Et Philosophiae Scientiarum 3 (2):53-65.
Bohr, Einstein and Realism.Wojciech Daniel - 1989 - Dialectica 43 (3):249-261.
Paul dirac and the Einstein-Bohr debate.Alisa Bokulich - 2008 - Perspectives on Science 16 (1):103-114.
Bohr as a Phenomenological Realist.Towfic Shomar - 2008 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 39 (2):321-349.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
169 (#118,309)

6 months
29 (#110,153)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Einstein Completeness as Categoricity.Iulian D. Toader - 2023 - Foundations of Physics 53 (2):1-15.
Bohr as a Phenomenological Realist.Towfic Shomar - 2008 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 39 (2):321-349.
Is Bohr’s Correspondence Principle just Hankel’s Principle of Permanence?Iulian D. Toader - 2024 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 103 (C):137-145.
Emergence of complementarity and the Baconian roots of Niels Bohr's method.Slobodan Perovic - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):162-173.
John Bell on ‘Subject and Object’: An Exchange.Hans Halvorson & Jeremy Butterfield - 2022 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 54 (2):305-324.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations