Classicality First: Why Zurek’s Existential Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics Implies Copenhagen

Foundations of Science 24 (2):275-285 (2019)
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Abstract

Most interpretations of Quantum Mechanics alternative to Copenhagen interpretation try to avoid the dualistic flavor of the latter. One of the basic goals of the former is to avoid the ad hoc introduction of observers and observations as an inevitable presupposition of physics. Non-Copenhagen interpretations usually trust in decoherence as a necessary mechanism to obtain a well-defined, observer-free transition from a unitary quantum description of the universe to classicality. Even though decoherence does not solve the problem of the definite outcomes, it helps to explain why we do not observe superpositions and, according to Zurek’s existential interpretation, why a specific preferred basis emerges through system–environment interactions. The aim of this paper is to show why such interpretation ends up begging the question and provides little progress in understanding the quantum-to-classical transition; the ultimate reason being that preferred bases always correlate to human observation. Benefitting from the technical discussion, some remarks will be offered in the last section regarding the role of classical observations as a necessary condition to make workable the formalism of Quantum Mechanics and scientific activity itself.

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Javier Sánchez Cañizares
Universidad de Navarra

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