Philosophical Problems of Quantum Ontology

Dissertation, Cambridge (1976)
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What is a physical object according to the theory of quantum mechanics? The first answer to be considered is that given by Bohr in terms of the concept of complementarity. This interpretation is illustrated by way of an example, the two slit experiment, which highlights some of the associated problems of ontology. One such problem is the so-called problem of measurement or observation. Various interpretations of measurement in Quantum Theory, including those of Heisenberg, von Neumann, Everett and Bohr, are compared and contrasted. A second problem concerns whether or not QT can be considered complete and therefore satisfactory as a basis for physics. Various attempts to complete QT by means of the addition of ‘hidden variables’ to the quantum mechanical state function are considered and their aims and achievements assessed. Finally, we investigate some of the characteristic ontological problems for the orthodox interpretation of Relativistic Quantum Theory.
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