Marij Van Strien
Bergische Universität Wuppertal
When David Bohm published his alternative theory of quantum mechanics in 1952, it was not received well; a recurring criticism was that it formed a reactionary attempt to return to classical physics. In response, Bohm emphasized the progressiveness of his approach, and even turned the accusation of classicality around by arguing that he wanted to move beyond classical elements still inherent in orthodox quantum mechanics. In later years, he moved more and more towards speculative and mystical directions. This paper aims to explain this discrepancy between the ways in which Bohm’s work on quantum mechanics has been received and the way in which Bohm himself presented it. I reject the idea that Bohm’s early work can be described as mechanist, determinist, and realist, in contrast to his later writings, and argue that there is in fact a strong continuity between his work on quantum mechanics from the early 1950s and his later, more speculative writings. In particular, I argue that Bohm was never strongly committed to determinism and was a realist in some ways but not in others. A closer look at Bohm’s philosophical commitments highlights the ways in which his theory of quantum mechanics is non-classical and does not offer a way to avoid all ‘quantum weirdness’.
Keywords David Bohm  Bohmian mechanics  Interpretations of quantum mechanics  Classicality  Scientific realism
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsb.2020.04.005
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