To be a realist about quantum theory

In Olimpia Lombardi (ed.), Quantum Worlds: Perspectives on the Ontology of Quantum Mechanics (2019)
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Abstract

I look at the distinction between between realist and antirealist views of the quantum state. I argue that this binary classification should be reconceived as a continuum of different views about which properties of the quantum state are representationally significant. What's more, the extreme cases -- all or none --- are simply absurd, and should be rejected by all parties. In other words, no sane person should advocate extreme realism or antirealism about the quantum state. And if we focus on the reasonable views, it's no longer clear who counts as a realist, and who counts as an antirealist. Among those taking a more reasonable intermediate view, we find figures such as Bohr and Carnap -- in stark opposition to the stories we've been told.

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Hans Halvorson
Princeton University

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