The Quantum Revolution in Philosophy [Book Review]

Philosophical Review 129 (2):302-308 (2020)
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In this thought-provoking book, Richard Healey proposes a new interpretation of quantum theory inspired by pragmatist philosophy. Healey puts forward the interpretation as an alternative to realist quantum theories on the one hand such as Bohmian mechanics, spontaneous collapse theories, and many-worlds interpretations, which are different proposals for describing what the quantum world is like and what the basic laws of physics are, and non-realist interpretations on the other hand such as quantum Bayesianism, which proposes to understand quantum theory as describing agents' subjective epistemic states. The central idea of Healey's proposal is to understand quantum theory as providing not a description of the physical world but a set of authoritative and objectively correct prescriptions about how agents should act. The book provides a detailed development and defense of that idea, and it contains interesting discussions about a wide range of philosophical issues such as representation, probability, explanation, causation, objectivity, meaning, and fundamentality. Healey's project is at the intersection of physics and philosophy. The book is divided into two parts. Part I of the book discusses the foundational questions in quantum theory from the perspective of the prescriptive interpretation. In Part II, Healey discusses the philosophical implications of the view. Both parts are written in a way that is largely accessible to non-specialists. In this brief book review, I will focus on two questions: (1) How does Healey's idea work? (2) What reasons are there to believe in it?
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First archival date: 2020-06-09
Latest version: 2 (2021-10-23)
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