The Mereological Problem of Entanglement


It is well-known that the entangled quantum state of a composite object cannot be reduced to the states of its parts. This quantum holism provides a peculiar challenge to formulate an appropriate mereological model: When a system is in an entangled state, which objects are there on the micro and macro level, and which of the objects carries which properties? This paper chooses a modeling approach to answer these questions: It proceeds from a systematic overview of consistent mereological models for entangled systems and discusses which of them is compatible with the quantum mechanical evidence (where quantum states are understood realistically). It reveals that entangled quantum systems neither describe undivided wholes nor objects that stand in irreducible relations. The appropriate model assumes that the entangled property is an irreducible non-relational plural property carried collectively by the micro objects, while there is no macro object. In this sense, quantum holism is an instance of property holism, not of object holism.

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Paul M. Näger
University of Münster


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