Can the wave function in configuration space be replaced by single-particle wave functions in physical space?

Synthese 192 (10):3125-3151 (2015)

Abstract

The ontology of Bohmian mechanics includes both the universal wave function and particles. Proposals for understanding the physical significance of the wave function in this theory have included the idea of regarding it as a physically-real field in its 3N-dimensional space, as well as the idea of regarding it as a law of nature. Here we introduce and explore a third possibility in which the configuration space wave function is simply eliminated—replaced by a set of single-particle pilot-wave fields living in ordinary physical space. Such a re-formulation of the Bohmian pilot-wave theory can exactly reproduce the statistical predictions of ordinary quantum theory. But this comes at the rather high ontological price of introducing an infinite network of interacting potential fields which influence the particles’ motion through the pilot-wave fields. We thus introduce an alternative approach which aims at achieving empirical adequacy with a more modest ontological complexity, and provide some preliminary evidence for optimism regarding the program of trying to replace the configuration space wave function with a set of fields in ordinary physical space

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