The 1927 Solvay conference was perhaps the most important meeting in the history of quantumtheory. Contrary to popular belief, the interpretation of quantumtheory was not settled at this conference, and no consensus was reached. Instead, a range of sharply conflicting views were presented and extensively discussed, including de Broglie's pilot-wave theory, Born and Heisenberg's quantum mechanics, and Schrödinger's wave mechanics. Today, there is no longer an established or dominant interpretation of quantum (...)theory, so it is important to re-evaluate the historical sources and keep the interpretation debate open. This book contains a complete translation of the original proceedings, with background essays on the three main interpretations of quantumtheory presented at the conference, and an extensive analysis of the lectures and discussions in the light of current research in the foundations of quantumtheory. The proceedings contain much unexpected material, including extensive discussions of de Broglie's pilot-wave theory (which de Broglie presented for a many-body system), and a theory of 'quantum mechanics' apparently lacking in wave function collapse or fundamental time evolution. This book will be of interest to graduate students and researchers in physics and in the history and philosophy of quantumtheory. (shrink)
QuantumTheory and the Schism in Physics is one of the three volumes of Karl Popper’s Postscript to the Logic of scientific Discovery . The Postscript is the culmination of Popper’s work in the philosophy of physics and a new famous attack on subjectivist approaches to philosophy of science. QuantumTheory and the Schism in Physics is the third volume of the Postscript . It may be read independently, but it also forms part of Popper’s interconnected (...) argument in the Postscript . It presents Popper’s classic statement on quantum physics and offers important insights into his thinking on problems of method within science and physics as a whole. (shrink)
The basic theme of Popper's philosophy--that something can come from nothing--is related to the present situation in physical theory. Popper carries his investigation right to the center of current debate in quantum physics. He proposes an interpretation of physics--and indeed an entire cosmology--which is realist, conjectural, deductivist and objectivist, anti-positivist, and anti-instrumentalist. He stresses understanding, reminding us that our ignorance grows faster than our conjectural knowledge.
Philosophers of quantum mechanics have generally addressed exceedingly simple systems. Laura Ruetsche offers a much-needed study of the interpretation of more complicated systems, and an underexplored family of physical theories, such as quantum field theory and quantum statistical mechanics, showing why they repay philosophical attention. She guides those familiar with the philosophy of ordinary QM into the philosophy of 'QM infinity', by presenting accessible introductions to relevant technical notions and the foundational questions they frame--and then develops (...) and defends answers to some of those questions. Finally, Ruetsche highlights ties between the foundational investigation of QM infinity and philosophy more broadly construed, in particular by using the interpretive problems discussed to motivate new ways to think about the nature of physical possibility and the problem of scientific realism. (shrink)
This book is a critical introduction to the long-standing debate concerning the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics and the problems it has posed for physicists and philosophers from Einstein to the present. Quantumtheory has been a major infulence on postmodernism, and presents significant problems for realists. Keeping his own realist position in check, Christopher Norris subjects a wide range of key opponents and supporters of realism to a high and equal level of scrutiny. With a characteristic (...) combination of rigour and intellectual generosity, he draws out the merits and weaknesses from opposing arguments. In a sequence of closely argued chapters, Norris examines the premises of orthodox quantumtheory, as developed most influentially by Bohr and Heisenberg, and its impact on varous philosophical developments. These include the ideas developed by W.V Quine, Thomas Kuhn, Michael Dummett, Bas van Fraassen, and Hilary Puttnam. In each case, Norris argues, these thinkers have been influenced by the orthodox construal of quantum mechanics as requiring drastic revision of principles which had hitherto defined the very nature of scientific method, causal explanati and rational enquiry. Putting the case for a realist approach which adheres to well-tried scientific principles of causal reasoning and inference to the best explanation, Christopher Norris clarifies these debates to a non-specialist readership and scholars of philosophy, science studies and the philosophy of science alike. QuantumTheory and the Flight From Realism suggests that philosophical reflection can contribute to a better understanding of these crucial, current issues. (shrink)
We show that three fundamental information-theoretic constraints -- the impossibility of superluminal information transfer between two physical systems by performing measurements on one of them, the impossibility of broadcasting the information contained in an unknown physical state, and the impossibility of unconditionally secure bit commitment -- suffice to entail that the observables and state space of a physical theory are quantum-mechanical. We demonstrate the converse derivation in part, and consider the implications of alternative answers to a remaining open (...) question about nonlocality and bit commitment. (shrink)
I offer an account of how the quantumtheory we have helps us explain so much. The account depends on a pragmatist interpretation of the theory: this takes a quantum state to serve as a source of sound advice to physically situated agents on the content and appropriate degree of belief about matters concerning which they are currently inevitably ignorant. The general account of how to use quantum states and probabilities to explain otherwise puzzling regularities (...) is then illustrated by showing how we can explain single-particle interference phenomena, the stability of matter, and interference of Bose–Einstein condensates. Finally, I note some open problems and relate this account to alternative approaches to explanation that emphasize the importance of causation, of unification, and of structure. 1 Introduction2 Two Requirements on Explanations in Physics3 What We Can use QuantumTheory to Explain4 The Function of Quantum States and Born Probabilities5 How These Functions Contribute to the Explanatory Task6 Example One: Single-Particle Interference7 Example Two: Explanation of the Stability of Matter8 Example Three: Bose Condensation9 Conclusion. (shrink)
Quantumtheory is a tremendously successful physical theory, but nevertheless suffers from two serious problems: the measurement problem and the problem of interpretational underdetermination. The latter, however, is largely overlooked as a genuine problem of its own. Both problems concern the doctrine of realism, but pull, quite curiously, into opposite directions. The measurement problem can be captured such that due to scientific realism about quantumtheory common sense anti-realism follows, while theory underdetermination usually counts (...) as an argument against scientific realism. I will also consider the more refined distinctions of ontic and epistemic realism and demonstrate that quantumtheory in its most viable interpretations conflicts with at least one of the various realism claims. A way out of the conundrum is to come to the bold conclusion that quantumtheory is, possibly, wrong (in the realist sense). (shrink)
The concepts of complementarity and entanglement are considered with respect to their significance in and beyond physics. A formally generalized, weak version of quantumtheory, more general than ordinary quantumtheory of physical systems, is outlined and tentatively applied to two examples.
We present a scenario describing how time emerges in the framework of weak quantumtheory. In a process similar to the emergence of time in quantum cosmology, time arises after an epistemic split of an undivided unus mundus as a quality of the individual conscious mind. Synchronization with matter and other mental systems is achieved by entanglement correlations. In the course of its operationalization, time loses its original quality and the time of physics as measured by clocks (...) appears. avoided/explicated. (shrink)
The relation between quantum measurement and thermodynamically irreversible processes is investigated. The reduction of the state vector is fundamentally asymmetric in time and shows an observer-relatedness which may explain the double interpretation of the state vector as a representation of physical states as well as ofinformation about physical states. The concept of relevance being used in all statistical theories of irreversible thermodynamics is demonstrated to be based on the same observer-relatedness. Quantum theories of irreversible processes implicitly use an (...) objectivized process of state vector reduction. The conditions for the reduction are discussed, and it is concluded that the final (subjective) observer system may be carried by a space point. (shrink)
Is it possible to approach quantumtheory in a 'therapeutic' vein that sees its foundational problems as arising from mistaken conceptual presuppositions? The book explores the prospects for this project and, in doing so, discusses such fascinating issues as the nature of quantum states, explanation in quantumtheory, and 'quantum non-locality'.
The main formal structures of generalized quantumtheory are summarized. Recent progress has sharpened some of the concepts, in particular the notion of an observable, the action of an observable on states (putting more emphasis on the role of proposition observables), and the concept of generalized entanglement. Furthermore, the active role of the observer in the structure of observables and the partitioning of systems is emphasized.
In the present work, quantumtheory is founded on the framework of consciousness, in contrast to earlier suggestions that consciousness might be understood starting from quantumtheory. The notion of streams of consciousness, usually restricted to conscious beings, is extended to the notion of a Universal/Global stream of conscious flow of ordered events. The streams of conscious events which we experience constitute sub-streams of the Universal stream. Our postulated ontological character of consciousness also consists of an (...) operator which acts on a state of potential consciousness to create or modify the likelihoods for later events to occur and become part of the Universal conscious flow. A generalized process of measurement-perception is introduced, where the operation of consciousness brings into existence, from a state of potentiality, the event in consciousness. This is mathematically represented by (a) an operator acting on the state of potential consciousness before an actual event arises in consciousness and (b) the reflecting of the result of this operation back onto the state of potential consciousness for comparison in order for the event to arise in consciousness. Beginning from our postulated ontology that consciousness is primary and from the most elementary conscious contents, such as perception of periodic change and motion, quantumtheory follows naturally as the description of the conscious experience. (shrink)
The measurement problem of quantumtheory is discussed, and the difficulty of trying to solve it within the confines of a local, Lorentz-invariant physics is emphasised. This leads to the obvious suggestion to seek a solution beyond physics, in particular, by introducing the concept of consciousness. The resulting dualistic model, in the natural form suggested by quantumtheory, is shown to differ in several respects from the classical model of Descartes, and to suggest solutions to some (...) of the long-standing problems concerning the relation of consciousness to the physical world. (shrink)
Science is always presupposing some basic concepts that are held to be useful. These absolute presuppositions (Collingwood) are rarely debated and form the framework for what has been termed paradigm by Kuhn. Our currently accepted scientific model is predicated on a set of presuppositions that have difficulty accommodating holistic structures and relationships and are not geared towards incorporating non-local correlations. Since the theoretical models we hold also determine what we perceive and take as scientifically viable, it is important to look (...) for an alternative model that can deal with holistic relationships. One approach is to generalise algebraic quantumtheory, which is an inherently holistic framework, into a generic model. Relaxing some restrictions and definitions from quantumtheory proper yields an axiomatic framework that can be applied to any type of system. Most importantly, it keeps the core of the quantum theoretical formalism. It is capable of handling complementary observables, i.e. descriptors which are non-commuting, incompatible and yet collectively required to fully describe certain situations. It also predicts a generalised form of non-local correlations that in quantumtheory are known as entanglement. This generalised version is not quantum entanglement but an analogue form of holistic, non-local connectedness of elements within systems, predicted to occur whenever elements within systems are described by observables which are complementary to the description of the whole system. While a considerable body of circumstantial evidence supports the plausibility of the model, we are not yet in a position to use it for clear cut predictions that could be experimentally falsified. The series of papers offered in this special issue are the beginning of what we hope will become a rich scientific debate. (shrink)
Quantumtheory does not only predict probabilities, but also relative phases for any experiment, that involves measurements of an ensemble of systems at different moments of time. We argue, that any operational formulation of quantumtheory needs an algebra of observables and an object that incorporates the information about relative phases and probabilities. The latter is the (de)coherence functional, introduced by the consistent histories approach to quantumtheory. The acceptance of relative phases as a (...) primitive ingredient of any quantumtheory, liberates us from the need to use a Hilbert space and non-commutative observables. It is shown, that quantum phenomena are adequately described by a theory of relative phases and non-additive probabilities on the classical phase space. The only difference lies on the type of observables that correspond to sharp measurements. This class of theories does not suffer from the consequences of Bell's theorem (it is not a theory of Kolmogorov probabilities) and Kochen–Specker's theorem (it has distributive “logic”). We discuss its predictability properties, the meaning of the classical limit and attempt to see if it can be experimentally distinguished from standard quantumtheory. Our construction is operational and statistical, in the spirit of Copenhagen, but makes plausible the existence of a realist, geometric theory for individual quantum systems. (shrink)
David Wallace argues that we should take quantumtheory seriously as an account of what the world is like--which means accepting the idea that the universe is constantly branching into new universes. He presents an accessible but rigorous account of the 'Everett interpretation', the best way to make coherent sense of quantum physics.
A sophisticated and original introduction to the philosophy of quantum mechanics from one of the world’s leading philosophers of physics In this book, Tim Maudlin, one of the world’s leading philosophers of physics, offers a sophisticated, original introduction to the philosophy of quantum mechanics. The briefest, clearest, and most refined account of his influential approach to the subject, the book will be invaluable to all students of philosophy and physics. Quantum mechanics holds a unique place in the (...) history of physics. It has produced the most accurate predictions of any scientific theory, but, more astonishing, there has never been any agreement about what the theory implies about physical reality. Maudlin argues that the very term “quantumtheory” is a misnomer. A proper physical theory should clearly describe what is there and what it does—yet standard textbooks present quantum mechanics as a predictive recipe in search of a physical theory. In contrast, Maudlin explores three proper theories that recover the quantum predictions: the indeterministic wavefunction collapse theory of Ghirardi, Rimini, and Weber; the deterministic particle theory of deBroglie and Bohm; and the conceptually challenging Many Worlds theory of Everett. Each offers a radically different proposal for the nature of physical reality, but Maudlin shows that none of them are what they are generally taken to be. (shrink)
In 1922, Albert Einstein rejected Bergson’s concept of time. He even declared that Bergson’s duration did not exist, something that Bergson never quite came to terms with. On the other hand, some of Bergson’s reflections indicated that in a certain respect he was close to the spirit of modern physics, especially quantumtheory. The author, therefore, asks whether it is possible to equate Bergson’s duration with the quantum space-time continuum and thus rehabilitate Bergson’s concept. The first part (...) of the article, in addition to the definition of duration, focuses on the connection of the subject, time, and matter in Bergson, which represents one of the points of contact with quantumtheory. The second part describes the role of the subject in quantumtheory. The third part presents the definition of the mentioned space-time continuum. The final section compares the two concepts and answers the research question. (shrink)
In this paper we review the general framework of operational probabilistic theories, along with the six axioms from which quantumtheory can be derived. We argue that the OPT framework along with a relaxed version of five of the axioms, define a general information theory. We close the paper with considerations about the role of the observer in an OPT, and the interpretation of the von Neumann postulate and the Schrödinger-cat paradox.
The concepts of complementarity and entanglement are considered with respect to their significance in and beyond physics. A formally generalized, weak version of quantumtheory, more general than ordinary quantumtheory of physical systems, is outlined and tentatively applied to two examples.
There is a consistent and simple interpretation of the quantumtheory of isolated systems. The interpretation suffers no measurement problem and provides a quantum explanation of state reduction, which is usually postulated. Quantum entanglement plays an essential role in the construction of the interpretation.
While its applications have made quantumtheory arguably the most successful theory in physics, its interpretation continues to be the subject of lively debate within the community of physicists and philosophers concerned with conceptual foundations. This situation poses a problem for a pragmatist for whom meaning derives from use. While disputes about how to use quantumtheory have arisen from time to time, they have typically been quickly resolved, and consensus reached, within the relevant scientific (...) sub-community. Yet rival accounts of the meaning of quantumtheory continue to proliferate . In this article I offer a diagnosis of this situation and outline a pragmatist solution to the problem it poses, leaving further details for subsequent articles. (shrink)
The mathematical formalism of quantumtheory has been known for almost a century, but its physical foundation has remained elusive. In recent decades, many physicists have noted connections between quantumtheory and information theory. In this study, we present a physical account of the derivation of quantumtheory's mathematical formalism based on information considerations in physical systems. We postulate that quantum systems are physical systems with only one independent adjustable variable. Using this (...) physical postulate along with the conservation of the total probability, we derive the standard Hilbert space formalism of quantumtheory, including the Born probability rule. Our complete derivation of quantumtheory provides a clear and concise physical foundation for the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
In his recent book Bananaworld. Quantum mechanics for primates, Jeff Bub revives and provides a mature version of his influential information-theoretic interpretation of QuantumTheory (QT). In this paper, I test Bub’s conjecture that QT should be interpreted as a theory about information, by examining whether his information-theoretic interpretation has the resources to explain (or explain away) quantum conundrums. The discussion of Bub’s theses will also serve to investigate, more in general, whether other approaches succeed (...) in defending the claim that QT is about quantum information. First of all, I argue that Bub’s interpretation of QT as a principle theory fails to fully explain quantum non-locality. Secondly, I argue that a constructive interpretation, where the quantum state is interpreted ontically as information, also fails at providing a full explanation of quantum correlations. Finally, while epistemic interpretations might succeed in this respect, I argue that such a success comes at the price of rejecting some in between the most basic scientific standards of physical theories. (shrink)
We present a discrete model theory similar in structure to ordinary quantum mechanics, but based on a finite field instead of complex amplitudes. The interpretation of this theory involves only the “modal” concepts of possibility and necessity rather than quantitative probability measures. Despite its simplicity, our model theory includes entangled states and has versions of both Bell’s theorem and the no cloning theorem.
Historically, appearance of the quantumtheory led to a prevailing view that Nature is indeterministic. The arguments for the indeterminism and proposals for indeterministic and deterministic approaches are reviewed. These include collapse theories, Bohmian Mechanics and the many-worlds interpretation. It is argued that ontic interpretations of the quantum wave function provide simpler and clearer physical explanation and that the many-worlds interpretation is the most attractive since it provides a deterministic and local theory for our physical Universe (...) explaining the illusion of randomness and nonlocality in the world we experience. (shrink)
Three recent arguments seek to show that the universal applicability of unitary quantumtheory is inconsistent with the assumption that a well-conducted measurement always has a definite physical outcome. In this paper I restate and analyze these arguments. The import of the first two is diminished by their dependence on assumptions about the outcomes of counterfactual measurements. But the third argument establishes its intended conclusion. Even if every well-conducted quantum measurement we ever make will have a definite (...) physical outcome, this argument should make us reconsider the objectivity of that outcome. (shrink)
I give an introduction to the conceptual structure of quantum field theory as it is used in mainstream theoretical physics today, aimed at non-specialists. My main focuses in the article are the common structure of quantum field theory as it is applied in solid-state physics and as it is applied in high-energy physics; the modern theory of renormalisation.
In a recent paper [e-print quant-ph/0101012], Hardy has given a derivation of “quantumtheory from five reasonable axioms.” Here we show that Hardy's first axiom, which identifies probability with limiting frequency in an ensemble, is not necessary for his derivation. By reformulating Hardy's assumptions, and modifying a part of his proof, in terms of Bayesian probabilities, we show that his work can be easily reconciled with a Bayesian interpretation of quantum probability.
Quantumtheory is one of science's most thrilling, challenging and even mysterious areas. Scientists such as Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrödinger uncovered bizarre paradoxes in the early 20th century that seemed to destroy the fundamental assumptions of 'classical physics' - the basic laws we are taught in school. Notoriously difficult, quantumtheory is nonetheless an amazing and inspiring intellectual adventure, explained here with patience, wit and clarity.
This book provides the first unified overview of the burgeoning research area at the interface between Quantum Foundations and Quantum Information. Topics include: operational alternatives to quantumtheory, information-theoretic reconstructions of the quantum formalism, mathematical frameworks for operational theories, and device-independent features of the set of quantum correlations. Powered by the injection of fresh ideas from the field of Quantum Information and Computation, the foundations of Quantum Mechanics are in the midst of (...) a renaissance. The last two decades have seen an explosion of new results and research directions, attracting broad interest in the scientific community. The variety and number of different approaches, however, makes it challenging for a newcomer to obtain a big picture of the field and of its high-level goals. Here, fourteen original contributions from leading experts in the field cover some of the most promising research directions that have emerged in the new wave of quantum foundations. The book is directed at researchers in physics, computer science, and mathematics and would be appropriate as the basis of a graduate course in Quantum Foundations. (shrink)
Orthodox Copenhagen quantumtheory renounces the quest to understand the reality in which we are imbedded, and settles for practical rules describing connections between our observations. Many physicist have regarded this renunciation of our effort describe nature herself as premature, and John von Neumann reformulated quantumtheory as a theory of an evolving objective universe interacting with human consciousness. This interaction is associated both in Copenhagen quantumtheory and in von Neumann quantum (...)theory with a sudden change that brings the objective physical state of a system in line with a subjectively felt psychical reality. The objective physical state is thereby converted from a material substrate to an informational and dispositional substrate that carries both the information incorporated into it by the psychical realities, and certain dispositions for the occurrence of future psychical realities. The present work examines and proposes solutions to two problems that have appeared to block the development of this conception of nature. The first problem is how to reconcile this theory with the principles of relativistic quantum field theory; the second problem is to understand whether, strictly within quantumtheory, a person's mind can affect the activities of his brain, and if so how. Solving the first problem involves resolving a certain non-locality question. The proposed solution to the second problem is based on a postulated connection between effort, attention, and the quantum Zeno effect. This solution explains on the basic of quantum physics a large amount of heretofore unexplained data amassed by psychologists. (shrink)
I argue that quantumtheory can, and in fact must, be applied to the Universe as a whole. After a general introduction, I discuss two concepts that are essential for my chain of arguments: the universality of quantumtheory and the emergence of classical behaviors by decoherence. A further motivation is given by the open problem of quantum gravity. I then present the main ingredients of quantum cosmology and discuss their relevance for the interpretation (...) of quantumtheory. I end with some brief epistemological remarks. (shrink)
_Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics_ is one of the three volumes of Karl Popper’s _Postscript to the Logic of scientific Discovery_. The_ Postscript_ is the culmination of Popper’s work in the philosophy of physics and a new famous attack on subjectivist approaches to philosophy of science. QuantumTheory and the Schism in Physics is the third volume of the _Postscript_. It may be read independently, but it also forms part of Popper’s interconnected argument in the (...) _Postscript_. It presents Popper’s classic statement on quantum physics and offers important insights into his thinking on problems of method within science and physics as a whole. (shrink)
This paper provides a brief introduction to quantumtheory and the proceeds to discuss the different ways in which the relationship between quantumtheory and mind/consciousness is seen in some of the main alternative interpretations of quantumtheory namely by Bohr; von Neumann; Penrose: Everett; and Bohm and Hiley. It briefly considers how qualia might be explained in a quantum framework, and makes a connection to research on quantum biology, quantum cognition (...) and quantum computation. The paper notes that it is widely agreed that conscious experience has dynamical and holistic features. It asks whether these features might in some way be a reflection of the dynamic and holistic quantum physical processes associated with the brain that may underlie (and make possible) the more mechanistic neurophysiological processes that contemporary cognitive neuroscience is measuring. If so, these macroscopic processes would be a kind of shadow, or amplification of the results of quantum processes at a deeper (pre-spatial or "implicate") level where our minds and conscious experience essentially live and unfold. The macroscopic, mechanistic level is of course necessary for communication, cognition and life as we know it, including science; but perhaps the experiencing (consciousness) of that world and the initiation of our actions takes place at a more subtle, non-mechanical level of the physical world, which quantumtheory has begun to discover. At the very least a quantum perspective will help a “classical” consciousness theorist to become better aware of some of the hidden assumptions in his or her approach. Given that consciousness is widely thought to be a “hard” problem, its solution may well require us to question and revise some of our assumptions that now seem to us completely obvious. This is what quantumtheory is all about – learning, on the basis of scientific experiments, to question the “obvious” truths about the nature of the physical world and to come up with more coherent alternatives. (shrink)
Empirical adequacy, formal explanation and understanding are distinct goals of science. While no a priori criterion for understanding should be laid down, there may be inherent limitations on the way we are able to understand explanations of physical phenomena. I examine several recent contributions to the exercise of fashioning an explanatory discourse to mold the formal explanation provided by quantum mechanics to our modes of understanding. The question is whether we are capable of truly understanding (or comprehending) quantum (...) phenomena, as opposed to simply accepting the formalism and certain irreducible quantum correlations. The central issue is that of understanding versus merely redefining terms to paper over our ignorance. (shrink)
Measures and theories of information abound, but there are few formalised methods for treating the contextuality that can manifest in different information systems. Quantumtheory provides one possible formalism for treating information in context. This paper introduces a quantum inspired model of the human mental lexicon. This model is currently being experimentally investigated and we present a preliminary set of pilot data suggesting that concept combinations can indeed behave non-separably.
J. Baird Callicott seeks to resolve the problem of the intrinsic value of nature by utilizing a nondualistic paradigm derived from quantumtheory. His approach is twofold. According to his less radical approach, quantumtheory shows that properties once considered to be “primary” and “objective” are in fact the products of interactions between observer and observed. Values are also the products of such interactions. According to his more radical approach, quantumtheory’s doctrine of internal (...) relations is the model for the idea that everything is intrinsically valuable because the “I” is intrinsically valuable and related to everything else. I argue that humanity’s treatment of nature will become respectful only as humanity’s awareness evolves toward nondualism, and that such nondualistic awareness will not be produced by changes in scientific theory alone. Nevertheless, as Callicott suggests, such changes may be harbingers of evolutionary trends in human awareness. I conclude with a sketch of how nondualism, especially in its panentheistic version, provides the basis for environmental ethics. (shrink)
This white paper aims to identify an open problem in 'Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality' -namely whether quantumtheory and special relativity are formally compatible-, to indicate what the underlying issues are, and put forward ideas about how the problem might be addressed.
What would it mean to apply quantumtheory, without restriction and without involving any notion of measurement and state reduction, to the whole universe? What would realism about the quantum state then imply? This book brings together an illustrious team of philosophers and physicists to debate these questions. The contributors broadly agree on the need, or aspiration, for a realist theory that unites micro- and macro-worlds. But they disagree on what this implies. Some argue that if (...) unitary quantum evolution has unrestricted application, and if the quantum state is taken to be something physically real, then this universe emerges from the quantum state as one of countless others, constantly branching in time, all of which are real. The result, they argue, is many worlds quantumtheory, also known as the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics. No other realist interpretation of unitary quantumtheory has ever been found. Others argue in reply that this picture of many worlds is in no sense inherent to quantumtheory, or fails to make physical sense, or is scientifically inadequate. The stuff of these worlds, what they are made of, is never adequately explained, nor are the worlds precisely defined; ordinary ideas about time and identity over time are compromised; no satisfactory role or substitute for probability can be found in many worlds theories; they can't explain experimental data; anyway, there are attractive realist alternatives to many worlds. Twenty original essays, accompanied by commentaries and discussions, examine these claims and counterclaims in depth. They consider questions of ontology - the existence of worlds; probability - whether and how probability can be related to the branching structure of the quantum state; alternatives to many worlds - whether there are one-world realist interpretations of quantumtheory that leave quantum dynamics unchanged; and open questions even given many worlds, including the multiverse concept as it has arisen elsewhere in modern cosmology. A comprehensive introduction lays out the main arguments of the book, which provides a state-of-the-art guide to many worlds quantumtheory and its problems. (shrink)
Quantum theoretical developments in physical science challenge the foundational assumptions of both realist and constructivist social paradigms. Furthermore, when quantum metaphysics is coupled with biological, neuro-scientific discoveries that the brain regenerates and reprograms itself throughout life in response to environmental challenges and the force of attention and will, the result is a different picture of human nature and the social behavior that is possible, ethical, and scientifically plausible than that suggested by either social realists or constructivists. This article (...) explores the frontier of recent developments in the physical and biological sciences and considers how these findings might allow for a new foundation for social theory. (shrink)
In this paper, we discuss the general significance of order in physics, as a first step toward the development of new notions of order. We begin with a brief historical discussion of the notions of order underlying ancient Greek views, and then go on to show how these changed in key ways with the rise of classical physics. This leads to a broader view of the significance of order, which helps to indicate what is to be meant by a change (...) of our general notions of order in physics. We then go into relativity and quantumtheory, showing how these developments actually did bring in further new notions of order, which are however inconsistent and otherwise inadequate in certain ways. Finally, using these inconsistencies and inadequacies as clues or indications for yet a further new concept of order, we make some proposals for novel directions of inquiry (to be discussed in some detail in later papers) which could lead to theories as different from relativity and quantumtheory as these are from classical physics. (shrink)
I offer an account of how the quantumtheory we have helps us explain the enormous variety of phenomena it is generally taken to explain. The account depends on what I have elsewhere called a pragmatist interpretation of the theory. This rejects views according to which a quantum state describes or represents a physical system, holding instead that it functions as a source of sound advice to physically situated agents like us on the content and appropriate (...) degree of belief about matters concerning which they are currently inevitably ignorant. So while the account given here is incompatible with some views of structural explanation in quantumtheory it is nevertheless able to incorporate what I take to be their valuable insights. (shrink)
Foundational attitudes towards quantumtheory have recently thrown off much of the old philosophical baggage largely associated with Niels Bohr to which Einstein famously objected, including the central ‘collapse of the wavefunction’ concept. A ‘neo-Copenhagen’ interpretation, it is suggested, has arisen. This development is placed in its historical context and contrasted to philosophical allegations of anti-realism. The neo-Copenhagen interpretation remains wedded to Heisenberg's uncertainty and observer-dependent values of particles. However a discussion of Nick Herbert's ‘rainbow analogy’ suggests that (...) subatomic particles are emergent from a ‘nonlocal’ level of reality outside the domain of space and time. Critical realism recognizes that emergent systems have an irreducibly ontologically character, and in its combination of epistemological relativism and ontological realism, provides a basis for the proposition that realists who support Einstein's objections must now recognize that their realism must be redefined. (shrink)