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Wave Function Ontology

Synthese 130 (2):265-277 (2002)

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  1. Space Emergence in Contemporary Physics: Why We Do Not Need Fundamentality, Layers of Reality and Emergence.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2018 - Disputatio 10 (49):71-95.
    ‘Space does not exist fundamentally: it emerges from a more fundamental non-spatial structure.’ This intriguing claim appears in various research programs in contemporary physics. Philosophers of physics tend to believe that this claim entails either that spacetime does not exist, or that it is derivatively real. In this article, I introduce and defend a third metaphysical interpretation of the claim: reductionism about space. I argue that, as a result, there is no need to subscribe to fundamentality, layers of reality and (...)
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  • The Status of Our Ordinary Three Dimensions in a Quantum Universe.Alyssa Ney - 2012 - Noûs 46 (3):525-560.
    There are now several, realist versions of quantum mechanics on offer. On their most straightforward, ontological interpretation, these theories require the existence of an object, the wavefunction, which inhabits an extremely high-dimensional space known as configuration space. This raises the question of how the ordinary three-dimensional space of our acquaintance fits into the ontology of quantum mechanics. Recently, two strategies to address this question have emerged. First, Tim Maudlin, Valia Allori, and her collaborators argue that what I have just called (...)
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  • Realism About the Wave Function.Eddy Keming Chen - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (7).
    A century after the discovery of quantum mechanics, the meaning of quantum mechanics still remains elusive. This is largely due to the puzzling nature of the wave function, the central object in quantum mechanics. If we are realists about quantum mechanics, how should we understand the wave function? What does it represent? What is its physical meaning? Answering these questions would improve our understanding of what it means to be a realist about quantum mechanics. In this survey article, I review (...)
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  • Against 3N-Dimensional Space.Bradley Monton - 2013 - In David Albert Alyssa Ney (ed.), The Wave Function: Essays in the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics.
    I argue that space has three dimensions, and quantum mechanics does not show otherwise. Specifically, I argue that the mathematical wave function of quantum mechanics corresponds to a property that an N-particle system has in three-dimensional space.
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  • Scientific Realism and Primitive Ontology Or: The Pessimistic Induction and the Nature of the Wave Function.Valia Allori - 2018 - Lato Sensu 1 (5):69-76.
    In this paper I wish to connect the recent debate in the philosophy of quantum mechanics concerning the nature of the wave function to the historical debate in the philosophy of science regarding the tenability of scientific realism. Being realist about quantum mechanics is particularly challenging when focusing on the wave function. According to the wave function ontology approach, the wave function is a concrete physical entity. In contrast, according to an alternative viewpoint, namely the primitive ontology approach, the wave (...)
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  • L'empirisme modal.Quentin Ruyant - 2017 - Dissertation, Université Rennes 1
    The aim of this thesis dissertation is to propose a novel position in the debate on scientific realism, modal empiricism, and to show its fruitfulness when it comes to interpreting the cognitive content of scientific theories. Modal empiricism is an empiricist position, according to which the aim of science is to produce empirically adequate theories rather than true theories. However, it suggests adopting a broader comprehension of experience than traditional versions of empiricism, through a commitment to natural modalities. Following modal (...)
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  • Quantum Mechanics on Spacetime I: Spacetime State Realism.David Wallace & Christopher Gordon Timpson - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (4):697-727.
    What ontology does realism about the quantum state suggest? The main extant view in contemporary philosophy of physics is wave-function realism . We elaborate the sense in which wave-function realism does provide an ontological picture, and defend it from certain objections that have been raised against it. However, there are good reasons to be dissatisfied with wave-function realism, as we go on to elaborate. This motivates the development of an opposing picture: what we call spacetime state realism , a view (...)
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  • On the Common Structure of Bohmian Mechanics and the Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber Theory: Dedicated to GianCarlo Ghirardi on the Occasion of His 70th Birthday.Valia Allori, Sheldon Goldstein, Roderich Tumulka & Nino Zanghi - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):353 - 389.
    Bohmian mechanics and the Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber theory provide opposite resolutions of the quantum measurement problem: the former postulates additional variables (the particle positions) besides the wave function, whereas the latter implements spontaneous collapses of the wave function by a nonlinear and stochastic modification of Schrödinger's equation. Still, both theories, when understood appropriately, share the following structure: They are ultimately not about wave functions but about 'matter' moving in space, represented by either particle trajectories, fields on space-time, or a discrete set of (...)
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  • Life in Configuration Space.Peter J. Lewis - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (4):713-729.
    This paper investigates the tenability of wavefunction realism, according to which the quantum mechanical wavefunction is not just a convenient predictive tool, but is a real entity figuring in physical explanations of our measurement results. An apparent difficulty with this position is that the wavefunction exists in a many-dimensional configuration space, whereas the world appears to us to be three-dimensional. I consider the arguments that have been given for and against the tenability of wavefunction realism, and note that both the (...)
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  • Empty Waves in Bohmian Quantum Mechanics.Peter J. Lewis - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (4):787 - 803.
    There is a recurring line of argument in the literature to the effect that Bohm's theory fails to solve the measurement problem. I show that this argument fails in all its variants. Hence Bohm's theory, whatever its drawbacks, at least succeeds in solving the measurement problem. I briefly discuss a similar argument that has been raised against the GRW theory.
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  • The Ontology of Bohmian Mechanics.M. Esfeld, D. Lazarovici, Mario Hubert & D. Durr - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (4):773-796.
    The paper points out that the modern formulation of Bohm’s quantum theory known as Bohmian mechanics is committed only to particles’ positions and a law of motion. We explain how this view can avoid the open questions that the traditional view faces according to which Bohm’s theory is committed to a wave-function that is a physical entity over and above the particles, although it is defined on configuration space instead of three-dimensional space. We then enquire into the status of the (...)
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  • Epistemology of Wave Function Collapse in Quantum Physics.Charles Wesley Cowan & Roderich Tumulka - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):405-434.
    Among several possibilities for what reality could be like in view of the empirical facts of quantum mechanics, one is provided by theories of spontaneous wave function collapse, the best known of which is the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory. We show mathematically that in GRW theory there are limitations to knowledge, that is, inhabitants of a GRW universe cannot find out all the facts true of their universe. As a specific example, they cannot accurately measure the number of collapses that a given (...)
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  • Why the de Broglie-Bohm Theory is Probably Wrong.Shan Gao - manuscript
    We investigate the validity of the field explanation of the wave function by analyzing the mass and charge density distributions of a quantum system. It is argued that a charged quantum system has effective mass and charge density distributing in space, proportional to the square of the absolute value of its wave function. This is also a consequence of protective measurement. If the wave function is a physical field, then the mass and charge density will be distributed in space simultaneously (...)
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  • Ontologie Quantistiche di Particelle, Campi E Lampi.Nino Zanghi - unknown
    La meccanica quantistica è una delle più grandi conquiste intellettuali del xx secolo. Le sue leggi regolano il mondo atomico e subatomico e si riverberano su una miriade di fenomeni del mondo macroscopico, dalla formazione dei cristalli alla superconduttività, dalle proprietà dei fluidi a bassa temperatura agli spettri di emissione di una candela che brucia o di una supernova che esplode, dai meccanismi di combustione della fornace solare ai principi di base delle nanotecnologie. Non c’è quasi nulla nel mondo che (...)
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  • Against the Field Ontology of Quantum Mechanics.Shan Gao - unknown
    It has been widely thought that the ontology of quantum mechanics is real, physical fields. In this paper, I will present a new argument against the field ontology of quantum mechanics by analyzing one-body systems such as an electron. First, I argue that if the physical entity described by the wave function of an electron is a field, then this field is massive and charged. Next, I argue that if a field is massive and charged, then any two parts of (...)
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  • Scientific Realism Without the Wave-Function: An Example of Naturalized Quantum Metaphysics.Valia Allori - 2019 - In Juha Saatsi & Steven French (eds.), Scientific Realism and the Quantum. Oxford University Press.
    Scientific realism is the view that our best scientific theories can be regarded as (approximately) true. This is connected with the view that science, physics in particular, and metaphysics could (and should) inform one another: on the one hand, science tells us what the world is like, and on the other hand, metaphysical principles allow us to select between the various possible theories which are underdetermined by the data. Nonetheless, quantum mechanics has always been regarded as, at best, puzzling, if (...)
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  • Quantum Mechanics and 3N‐Dimensional Space.Bradley Monton - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 73 (5):778-789.
    I maintain that quantum mechanics is fundamentally about a system of N particles evolving in three-dimensional space, not the wave function evolving in 3N-dimensional space.
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  • Inertial Trajectories in de Broglie-Bohm Quantum Theory: An Unexpected Problem.Pablo Acuña - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (3):201-230.
    A salient feature of de Broglie-Bohm quantum theory is that particles have determinate positions at all times and in all physical contexts. Hence, the trajectory of a particle is a well-defined concept. One then may expect that the closely related notion of inertial trajectory is also unproblematically defined. I show that this expectation is not met. I provide a framework that deploys six different ways in which dBB theory can be interpreted, and I state that only in the canonical interpretation (...)
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  • Laws Are Not Descriptions.Federico Laudisa - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (3):251-270.
    The view that takes laws of nature to be essentially nothing more than descriptions of facts is still rather popular. The present article, on the contrary, defends the claim that the only real motivation for defending a descriptive view of laws—the quest for ontological parsimony—entails too high a price to pay in philosophical terms. It is argued that nomic primitivism, namely the alternative option that takes laws to be primitive fundamental entities in our ontology, is decisively more appealing, since it (...)
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  • Quantum Mechanics and the Plight of Physicalism.Fernando Birman - 2009 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (2):207-225.
    The literature on physicalism often fails to elucidate, I think, what the word physical in physical ism precisely means. Philosophers speak at times of an ideal set of fundamental physical facts, or they stipulate that physical means non-mental , such that all fundamental physical facts are fundamental facts pertaining to the non-mental. In this article, I will probe physicalism in the very much tangible framework of quantum mechanics. Although this theory, unlike “ideal physics” or some “final theory of non-mentality”, is (...)
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  • On the Common Structure of Bohmian Mechanics and the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber Theory Dedicated to GianCarlo Ghirardi on the Occasion of His 70th Birthday.Valia Allori, Sheldon Goldstein, Roderich Tumulka & Nino Zanghi - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):353-389.
    Bohmian mechanics and the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory provide opposite resolutions of the quantum measurement problem: the former postulates additional variables besides the wave function, whereas the latter implements spontaneous collapses of the wave function by a nonlinear and stochastic modification of Schrödinger's equation. Still, both theories, when understood appropriately, share the following structure: They are ultimately not about wave functions but about ‘matter’ moving in space, represented by either particle trajectories, fields on space-time, or a discrete set of space-time points. The (...)
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  • The Wave Function and Particle Ontology.Shan Gao - manuscript
    In quantum mechanics, the wave function of a N-body system is a mathematical function defined in a 3N-dimensional configuration space. We argue that wave function realism implies particle ontology when assuming: (1) the wave function of a N-body system describes N physical entities; (2) each triple of the 3N coordinates of a point in configuration space that relates to one physical entity represents a point in ordinary three-dimensional space. Moreover, the motion of particles is random and discontinuous.
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  • Protective Measurements and the Meaning of the Wave Function in the de Broglie-Bohm Theory.Shan Gao - unknown
    There are three possible interpretations of the wave function in the de Broglie-Bohm theory: taking the wave function as corresponding to a physical entity or a property of the Bohmian particles or a law. In this paper, we argue that the first interpretation is favored by an analysis of protective measurements.
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  • Interpreting Quantum Mechanics in Terms of Random Discontinuous Motion of Particles.Shan Gao - unknown
    This thesis is an attempt to reconstruct the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics. First, we argue that the wave function in quantum mechanics is a description of random discontinuous motion of particles, and the modulus square of the wave function gives the probability density of the particles being in certain locations in space. Next, we show that the linear non-relativistic evolution of the wave function of an isolated system obeys the free Schrödinger equation due to the requirements of spacetime translation (...)
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  • Protective Measurement: A Paradigm Shift in Understanding Quantum Mechanics.Shan Gao - unknown
    This article introduces the method of protective measurement and discusses its deep implications for the foundations of quantum mechanics.
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  • Bohmian Mechanics Without Wave Function Ontology.Albert Solé - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (4):365-378.
    In this paper, I critically assess different interpretations of Bohmian mechanics that are not committed to an ontology based on the wave function being an actual physical object that inhabits configuration space. More specifically, my aim is to explore the connection between the denial of configuration space realism and another interpretive debate that is specific to Bohmian mechanics: the quantum potential versus guidance approaches. Whereas defenders of the quantum potential approach to the theory claim that Bohmian mechanics is better formulated (...)
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  • On the Common Structure of the Primitive Ontology Approach and the Information-Theoretic Interpretation of Quantum Theory.Lucas Dunlap - 2015 - Topoi 34 (2):359-367.
    We use the primitive ontology framework of Allori et al. to analyze the quantum information-theoretic interpretation of Bub and Pitowsky. There are interesting parallels between the two approaches, which differentiate them both from the more standard realist interpretations of quantum theory. Where they differ, however, is in terms of their commitments to an underlying ontology on which the manifest image of the world supervenes. Employing the primitive ontology framework in this way makes perspicuous the differences between the quantum information-theoretic interpretation, (...)
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  • On the Reality and Meaning of the Wave Function.Shan Gao - unknown
    In this article, we give a clearer argument for the reality of the wave function in terms of protective measurements, which does not depend on nontrivial assumptions and also overcomes existing objections. Moreover, based on an analysis of the mass and charge properties of a quantum system, we propose a new ontological interpretation of the wave function. According to this interpretation, the wave function of an N-body system represents the state of motion of N particles. Moreover, the motion of particles (...)
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  • Primitive Ontology or Primitive Relations?Quentin Ruyant - manuscript
    Primitive ontology is a program which seeks to make explicit the ontological commitments of physical theories in terms of a distribution of matter in ordinary space-time. This program targets wave-function realism, which interprets the high-dimensional configuration space on which wave-functions are defined as our fundamental physical space. Wave-function realism allegedly fails to account for a correspondence between the ontology it postulates and the ‘manifest image’ of the world in which experimental tests of the theory are performed, and therefore the wave-function (...)
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  • How to Make Sense of Quantum Mechanics : Fundamental Physical Theories and Primitive Ontology.Valia Allori - manuscript
    Quantum mechanics has always been regarded as, at best, puzzling, if not contradictory. The aim of the paper is to explore a particular approach to fundamental physical theories, the one based on the notion of primitive ontology. This approach, when applied to quantum mechanics, makes it a paradox-free theory.
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  • The Meaning of the Wave Function: In Search of the Ontology of Quantum Mechanics.Shan Gao - unknown
    The meaning of the wave function has been a hot topic of debate since the early days of quantum mechanics. Recent years have witnessed a growing interest in this long-standing question. Is the wave function ontic, directly representing a state of reality, or epistemic, merely representing a state of knowledge, or something else? If the wave function is not ontic, then what, if any, is the underlying state of reality? If the wave function is indeed ontic, then exactly what physical (...)
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  • Muchos Mundos Bohmianos.Albert Solé - 2012 - Scientiae Studia 10 (1):105-136.
    Bohmian mechanics is commonly characterized as just another interpretation of quantum mechanics.In this paper I defend an alternative view, according to which Bohmian mechanics is better understood as a theory that can be interpreted in many ways. After characterizing the interpretive divide between the quantum potential approach and the guidance approach to Bohmian mechanics, I show that different interpretations of the theory correspond to radically different and often incompatible ontologies or Bohmian worlds. More concretely, I discuss the possibility of an (...)
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  • Quantum Mechanics as a Deterministic Theory of a Continuum of Worlds.Kim Joris Boström - 2015 - Quantum Studies: Mathematics and Foundations 2 (3):315-347.
    A non-relativistic quantum mechanical theory is proposed that describes the universe as a continuum of worlds whose mutual interference gives rise to quantum phenomena. A logical framework is introduced to properly deal with propositions about objects in a multiplicity of worlds. In this logical framework, the continuum of worlds is treated in analogy to the continuum of time points; both “time” and “world” are considered as mutually independent modes of existence. The theory combines elements of Bohmian mechanics and of Everett’s (...)
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  • The Problem of Ontology for Spontaneous Collapse Theories.Bradley Monton - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (3):407-421.
    The question of how to interpret spontaneous collapse theories of quantum mechanics is an open one. One issue involves what link one should use to go from wave function talk to talk of ordinary macroscopic objects. Another issue involves whether that link should be taken ontologically seriously. In this paper, I ague that the link should be taken ontologically seriously; I argue against an ontology consisting solely of the wave function. I then consider three possible links: the fuzzy link, the (...)
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  • The Wave Function and Its Evolution.Shan Gao - manuscript
    The meaning of the wave function and its evolution are investigated. First, we argue that the wave function in quantum mechanics is a description of random discontinuous motion of particles, and the modulus square of the wave function gives the probability density of the particles being in certain locations in space. Next, we show that the linear non-relativistic evolution of the wave function of an isolated system obeys the free Schrödinger equation due to the requirements of spacetime translation invariance and (...)
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  • Protective Measurement and the Meaning of the Wave Function.Shan Gao - manuscript
    This article analyzes the implications of protective measurement for the meaning of the wave function. According to protective measurement, a charged quantum system has mass and charge density proportional to the modulus square of its wave function. It is shown that the mass and charge density is not real but effective, formed by the ergodic motion of a localized particle with the total mass and charge of the system. Moreover, it is argued that the ergodic motion is not continuous but (...)
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  • Quantum Mechanics and Paradigm Shifts.Valia Allori - 2015 - Topoi 34 (2):313-323.
    It has been argued that the transition from classical to quantum mechanics is an example of a Kuhnian scientific revolution, in which there is a shift from the simple, intuitive, straightforward classical paradigm, to the quantum, convoluted, counterintuitive, amazing new quantum paradigm. In this paper, after having clarified what these quantum paradigms are supposed to be, I analyze whether they constitute a radical departure from the classical paradigm. Contrary to what is commonly maintained, I argue that, in addition to radical (...)
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  • Interpreting Spontaneous Collapse Theories.Peter J. Lewis - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (1):165-180.
    Spontaneous collapse theories of quantum mechanics require an interpretation if their claim to solve the measurement problem is to be vindicated. The most straightforward interpretation rule, the fuzzy link, generates a violation of common sense known as the counting anomaly. Recently, a consensus has developed that the mass density link provides an appropriate interpretation of spontaneous collapse theories that avoids the counting anomaly. In this paper, I argue that the mass density link violates common sense in just as striking a (...)
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  • Introduction: Space–Time and the Wave Function.Albert Solé & Carl Hoefer - 2015 - Synthese 192 (10):3055-3070.
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  • The Physical Salience of Non-Fundamental Local Beables.Matthias Egg - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 57:104-110.
    I defend the idea that objects and events in three-dimensional space are part of the derivative ontology of quantum mechanics, rather than its fundamental ontology. The main objection to this idea stems from the question of how it can endow local beables with physical salience, as opposed to mere mathematical definability. I show that the responses to this objection in the previous literature are insufficient, and I provide the necessary arguments to render them successful. This includes demonstrating the legitimacy of (...)
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  • Interpreting Spontaneous Collapse Theories.Peter J. Lewis - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (1):165-180.
    Spontaneous collapse theories of quantum mechanics require an interpretation if their claim to solve the measurement problem is to be vindicated. The most straightforward interpretation rule, the fuzzy link, generates a violation of common sense known as the counting anomaly. Recently, a consensus has developed that the mass density link provides an appropriate interpretation of spontaneous collapse theories that avoids the counting anomaly. In this paper, I argue that the mass density link violates common sense in just as striking a (...)
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  • GRW: A Case Study in Quantum Ontology.Peter J. Lewis - 2006 - Philosophy Compass 1 (2):224–244.
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