In this paper, I critically assess different interpretations of Bohmianmechanics 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 Bohmianmechanics: the quantum potential versus guidance approaches. Whereas defenders of the quantum potential approach to the theory claim that (...) class='Hi'>Bohmianmechanics is better formulated as quasi-Newtonian, via the postulation of forces proportional to acceleration; advocates of the guidance approach defend the notion that the theory is essentially first-order and incorporates some concepts akin to those of Aristotelian physics. Here I analyze whether the desideratum of an interpretation of Bohmianmechanics that is both explanatorily adequate and not committed to configuration space realism favors one of these two approaches to the theory over the other. Contrary to some recent claims in the literature, I argue that the quasi-Newtonian approach based on the idea of a quantum potential does not come out the winner. (shrink)
David Lewis is a natural target for those who believe that findings in quantum physics threaten the tenability of traditional metaphysical reductionism. Such philosophers point to allegedly holistic entities they take both to be the subjects of some claims of quantum mechanics and to be incompatible with Lewisian metaphysics. According to one popular argument, the non-separability argument from quantum entanglement, any realist interpretation of quantum theory is straightforwardly inconsistent with the reductive conviction that the complete physical state of the (...) world supervenes on the intrinsic properties of and spatio-temporal relations between its point-sized constituents. Here I defend Lewis's metaphysical doctrine, and traditional reductionism more generally, against this alleged threat from quantum holism. After presenting the non-separability argument from entanglement, I show that Bohmianmechanics, an interpretation of quantum mechanics explicitly recognized as a realist one by proponents of the non-separability argument, plausibly rejects a key premise of that argument. Another holistic worry for Humeanism persists, however, the trouble being the apparently holistic character of the Bohmian pilot wave. I present a Humean strategy for addressing the holistic threat from the pilot wave by drawing on resources from the Humean best system account of laws. (shrink)
The paper points out that the modern formulation of Bohm’s quantum theory known as Bohmianmechanics 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 law of motion, elaborating on how the main philosophical options to ground a law of motion, namely Humeanism and dispositionalism, can be applied to Bohmianmechanics. In conclusion, we sketch out how these options apply to primitive ontology approaches to quantum mechanics in general. (shrink)
Lam and Esfeld have argued that, within Bohmianmechanics, the wave function can be interpreted as a physical structure instantiated by the fundamental particles posited by the theory. Further, to characterize the nature of this structure, they appeal to the framework of Ontic Structural Realism, thereby proposing a structuralist interpretation of Bohmianmechanics. However, I shall point out that OSR denotes a family of distinct views, each of which maintains a different account about the relation between (...) structures and objects, and entails a different kind of ontology. Thus, in this paper I will show how to articulate the structuralist approach to BohmianMechanics accordingly to the different standard versions of OSR, and I will evaluate these alternatives. Moreover, I will propose a novel and _sui generis_ kind of structuralist interpretation of BohmianMechanics, based on the framework of metaphysical coherentism. (shrink)
It is usual to identify initial conditions of classical dynamical systems with mathematical real numbers. However, almost all real numbers contain an infinite amount of information. I argue that a finite volume of space can’t contain more than a finite amount of information, hence that the mathematical real numbers are not physically relevant. Moreover, a better terminology for the so-called real numbers is “random numbers”, as their series of bits are truly random. I propose an alternative classical mechanics, which (...) is empirically equivalent to classical mechanics, but uses only finite-information numbers. This alternative classical mechanics is non-deterministic, despite the use of deterministic equations, in a way similar to quantum theory. Interestingly, both alternative classical mechanics and quantum theories can be supplemented by additional variables in such a way that the supplemented theory is deterministic. Most physicists straightforwardly supplement classical theory with real numbers to which they attribute physical existence, while most physicists reject Bohmianmechanics as supplemented quantum theory, arguing that Bohmian positions have no physical reality. (shrink)
The paper takes up Bell's “Everett theory” and develops it further. The resulting theory is about the system of all particles in the universe, each located in ordinary, 3-dimensional space. This many-particle system as a whole performs random jumps through 3N-dimensional configuration space – hence “Tychistic BohmianMechanics”. The distribution of its spontaneous localisations in configuration space is given by the Born Rule probability measure for the universal wavefunction. Contra Bell, the theory is argued to satisfy the minimal (...) desiderata for a Bohmian theory within the Primitive Ontology framework. TBM's formalism is that of ordinary BohmianMechanics, without the postulate of continuous particle trajectories and their deterministic dynamics. This “rump formalism” receives, however, a different interpretation. We defend TBM as an empirically adequate and coherent quantum theory. Objections voiced by Bell and Maudlin are rebutted. The “for all practical purposes”-classical, Everettian worlds exist sequentially in TBM. In a temporally coarse-grained sense, they quasi-persist. By contrast, the individual particles themselves cease to persist. (shrink)
It is usual to identify initial conditions of classical dynamical systems with mathematical real numbers. However, almost all real numbers contain an infinite amount of information. I argue that a finite volume of space can’t contain more than a finite amount of information, hence that the mathematical real numbers are not physically relevant. Moreover, a better terminology for the so-called real numbers is “random numbers”, as their series of bits are truly random. I propose an alternative classical mechanics, which (...) is empirically equivalent to classical mechanics, but uses only finite-information numbers. This alternative classical mechanics is non-deterministic, despite the use of deterministic equations, in a way similar to quantum theory. Interestingly, both alternative classical mechanics and quantum theories can be supplemented by additional variables in such a way that the supplemented theory is deterministic. Most physicists straightforwardly supplement classical theory with real numbers to which they attribute physical existence, while most physicists reject Bohmianmechanics as supplemented quantum theory, arguing that Bohmian positions have no physical reality. (shrink)
This thesis develops a detailed account of the emergence of for all practical purposes continuous, quasi-classical world histories from the discontinuous, stochastic micro dynamics of Minimal BohmianMechanics (MBM). MBM is a non-relativistic quantum theory. It results from excising the guiding equation from standard BohmianMechanics (BM) and reinterpreting the quantum equilibrium hypothesis as a stochastic guidance law for the random actualization of configurations of Bohmian particles. On MBM, there are no continuous trajectories linking up (...) individual configurations. Instead, individual configurations are actualized independently of each other, carving out the decoherence-induced branching structure of the universal wave function. Yet, by contrast to the Everett interpretation, branches of the universal wave function are not actualized in parallel, i.e. all at the same time. Rather, world branches, on MBM, are actualized sequentially. -/- For an introduction to MBM, the transition from BM to MBM is described, and their empirical equivalence is established. I present the conditions under which MBM can be classified as a primitive ontology (PO) theory, regarded as crucial for the acceptance of a theory as Bohmian by many proponents of BM. While rendering MBM compatible with the PO approach, it must not fall prey to the problem of communication, arising from the two-space reading of BM. -/- The issue of temporal solipsism, identified by Bell as a serious problem for his “Everett (?) theory” – the historic predecessor of MBM – is discussed. I argue that Barbour’s time capsule approach does not provide a satisfactory solution. In particular, his adopting a more than minimal psychophysical parallelism between brain processes and experience of macroscopic change is argued to be reasonable in light of our current best neuroscience, yet problematic for theories relying solely on time capsules, understood as highly structured, individual, internally static configurations. As a solution, I introduce worlds, and world histories, as key concepts in providing a link between MBM’s micro dynamics and macroscopic phenomena. Worlds, other than time capsules, are coarse-grained regions in phase- or configuration space, defined as sets of possible micro states satisfying a relation of sufficient similarity from a macroscopic perspective, with respect to a given micro state. Hence, worlds may overlap. -/- I argue that worlds thus construed are a reasonable option for replacing the disjoint macro regions of phase space, resulting from the usual way of partitioning phase space in the standard framework of Boltzmannian statistical mechanics. This move solves the issue of discontinuous change of macro variables upon the micro state crossing the boundary between different macro regions. -/- I adapt this move for MBM’s discontinuous micro dynamics in configuration space. Issues revolving around the microscopic-macroscopic distinction, particle identity, impenetrability and haecceity in light of the desideratum of particle number conservation, etc., are discussed. I provide a detailed explanation of how overlapping worlds in MBM form world histories, thereby linking up macroscopically distinct worlds. Thus, the problem of temporal solipsism is resolved in a way that is compatible with a more than minimal psychophysical parallelism. (shrink)
The paper shows how the Bohmian approach to quantum physics can be applied to develop a clear and coherent ontology of non-perturbative quantum gravity. We suggest retaining discrete objects as the primitive ontology also when it comes to a quantum theory of space-time and therefore focus on loop quantum gravity. We conceive atoms of space, represented in terms of nodes linked by edges in a graph, as the primitive ontology of the theory and show how a non-local law in (...) which a universal and stationary wave-function figures can provide an order of configurations of such atoms of space such that the classical space-time of general relativity is approximated. Although there is as yet no fully worked out physical theory of quantum gravity, we regard the Bohmian approach as setting up a standard that proposals for a serious ontology in this field should meet and as opening up a route for fruitful physical and mathematical investigations. (shrink)
Bohmianmechanics is a realistic interpretation of quantum theory. It shares the same ontology of classical mechanics: particles following continuous trajectories in space through time. For this ontological continuity, it seems to be a good candidate for recovering the classical limit of quantum theory. Indeed, in a Bohmian framework, the issue of the classical limit reduces to showing how classical trajectories can emerge from Bohmian ones, under specific classicality assumptions. In this paper, we shall focus (...) on a technical problem that arises from the dynamics of a Bohmian system in bounded regions; and we suggest that a possible solution is supplied by the action of environmental decoherence. However, we shall show that, in order to implement decoherence in a Bohmian framework, a stronger condition is required rather than the usual one. (shrink)
The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how and why physical processes give rise to consciousness (Chalmers 1995). Regardless of many attempts to solve the problem, there is still no commonly agreed solution. It is thus very likely that some radically new ideas are required if we are to make any progress. In this paper we turn to quantum theory to find out whether it has anything to offer in our attempts to understand the place of mind (...) and conscious experience in nature. In particular we will be focusing on the ontological interpretation of quantum theory proposed by Bohm and Hiley (1987, 1993), its further development by Hiley (Hiley and Callaghan 2012; Hiley, Dennis and de Gosson 2021), and its philosophical interpretation by Pylkkänen (2007, 2020). The ontological interpretation makes the radical proposal that quantum reality includes a new type of potential energy which contains active information. This proposal, if correct, constitutes a major change in our notion of matter. We are used to having in physics only mechanical concepts, such as position, momentum and force. Our intuition that it is not possible to understand how and why physical processes can give rise to consciousness is partly the result of our assuming that physical processes (including neurophysiological processes) are always mechanical. If, however, we are willing to change our view of physical reality by allowing non-mechanical, organic and holistic concepts such as active information to play a fundamental role, this, we argue, makes it possible to understand the relationship between physical and mental processes in a new way. It might even be a step toward solving the hard problem. (shrink)
We discuss the no-go theorem of Frauchiger and Renner based on an "extended Wigner's friend" thought experiment which is supposed to show that any single-world interpretation of quantum mechanics leads to inconsistent predictions if it is applicable on all scales. We show that no such inconsistency occurs if one considers a complete description of the physical situation. We then discuss implications of the thought experiment that have not been clearly addressed in the original paper, including a tension between relativity (...) and nonlocal effects predicted by quantum mechanics. Our discussion applies in particular to Bohmianmechanics. (shrink)
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 Bohmianmechanics and (...) of Everett’s many-worlds interpretation; it has a clear ontology and a set of precisely defined postulates from where the predictions of standard quantum mechanics can be derived. Probability as given by the Born rule emerges as a consequence of insufficient knowledge of observers about which world it is that they live in. The theory describes a continuum of worlds rather than a single world or a discrete set of worlds, so it is similar in spirit to many-worlds interpretations based on Everett’s approach, without being actually reducible to these. In particular, there is no splitting of worlds, which is a typical feature of Everett-type theories. Altogether, the theory explains (1) the subjective occurrence of probabilities, (2) their quantitative value as given by the Born rule, and (3) the apparently random “collapse of the wavefunction” caused by the measurement, while still being an objectively deterministic theory. (shrink)
In the first part of the paper I argue that an ontology of events is precise, flexible and general enough so as to cover the three main alternative formulations of quantum mechanics as well as theories advocating an antirealistic view of the wave function. Since these formulations advocate a primitive ontology of entities living in four-dimensional spacetime, they are good candidates to connect that quantum image with the manifest image of the world. However, to the extent that some form (...) of realism about the wave function is also necessary, one needs to endorse also the idea that the wave function refers to some kind of power. In the second part, I discuss some difficulties raised by the recent proposal that in Bohmianmechanics this power is holistically possessed by all the particles in the universe. (shrink)
The text is a continuation of the article of the same name published in the previous issue of Philosophical Alternatives. The philosophical interpretations of the Kochen- Specker theorem (1967) are considered. Einstein's principle regarding the,consubstantiality of inertia and gravity" (1918) allows of a parallel between descriptions of a physical micro-entity in relation to the macro-apparatus on the one hand, and of physical macro-entities in relation to the astronomical mega-entities on the other. The Bohmian interpretation ( 1952) of quantum (...) class='Hi'>mechanics proposes that all quantum systems be interpreted as dissipative ones and that the theorem be thus derstood. The conclusion is that the continual representation, by force or (gravitational) field between parts interacting by means of it, of a system is equivalent to their mutual entanglement if representation is discrete. Gravity (force field) and entanglement are two different, correspondingly continual and discrete, images of a single common essence. General relativity can be interpreted as a superluminal generalization of special relativity. The postulate exists of an alleged obligatory difference between a model and reality in science and philosophy. It can also be deduced by interpreting a corollary of the heorem. On the other hand, quantum mechanics, on the basis of this theorem and of V on Neumann's (1932), introduces the option that a model be entirely identified as the modeled reality and, therefore, that absolutely reality be recognized: this is a non-standard hypothesis in the epistemology of science. Thus, the true reality begins to be understood mathematically, i.e. in a Pythagorean manner, for its identification with its mathematical model. A few linked problems are highlighted: the role of the axiom of choice forcorrectly interpreting the theorem; whether the theorem can be considered an axiom; whether the theorem can be considered equivalent to the negation of the axiom. (shrink)
Tim Maudlin has influentially argued that Humeanism about laws of nature stands in conflict with quantum mechanics. Specifically Humeanism implies the principle Separability: the complete physical state of a world is determined by the intrinsic physical state of each space-time point. Maudlin argues Separability is violated by the entangled states posited by QM. We argue that Maudlin only establishes that a stronger principle, which we call Strong Separability, is in tension with QM. Separability is not in tension with QM. (...) Moreover, while the Humean requires Separability to capture the core tenets of her view, there's no Humean-specific motivation for accepting Strong Separability. We go on to give a Humean account of entangled states which satisfies Separability. The core idea is that certain quantum states depend upon the Humean mosaic in much the same way as the laws do. In fact, we offer a variant of the Best System account on which the systemization procedure that generates the laws also serves to ground these states. We show how this account works by applying it to the example of BohmianMechanics. The 3N-dimensional configuration space, the world particle in it and the wave function on it are part of the best system of the Humean mosaic, which consists of N particles moving in 3-dimensional space. We argue that this account is superior to the Humean account of BohmianMechanics defended by Loewer and Albert, which takes the 3N-dimensional space, and its inhabitants, as fundamental. (shrink)
In my dissertation (Rutgers, 2007) I developed the proposal that one can establish that material quantum objects behave classically just in case there is a “local plane wave” regime, which naturally corresponds to the suppression of all quantum interference.
In this article I defend that an underlying framework exists among those interpretations of quantum mechanics which crucially consider the measurement problem as a central obstacle. I characterise that framework as the Received View on the realist interpretation of quantum mechanics. In particular, I analyse the extent to which two of the most relevant attempts at quantum mechanics, namely, many worlds interpretations and Bohmianmechanics, belong within the Received View. However, I claim that scientific realism (...) in itself does not entail commitment to such a view, and I propose to consider a form of realism that dissolves the measurement problem. It is simply a stripped down version of realism. I derive the methodological questions in this form of realism, speculating that within it a novel realist interpretation of quantum mechanics could be conceived. (shrink)
The article sets out a primitive ontology of the natural world in terms of primitive stuff—that is, stuff that has as such no physical properties at all—but that is not a bare substratum either, being individuated by metrical relations. We focus on quantum physics and employ identity-based Bohmianmechanics to illustrate this view, but point out that it applies all over physics. Properties then enter into the picture exclusively through the role that they play for the dynamics of (...) the primitive stuff. We show that such properties can be local, as well as holistic, and discuss two metaphysical options to conceive them, namely, Humeanism and modal realism in the guise of dispositionalism. 1 Introduction2 Primitive Ontology: Primitive Stuff3 The Physics of Matter as Primitive Stuff4 The Humean Best System Analysis of the Dynamical Variables5 Modal Realism about the Dynamical Variables6 Conclusion. (shrink)
An important part of the influential Humean doctrine in philosophy is the supervenience principle (sometimes referred to as the principle of separability). This principle asserts that the complete state of the world supervenes on the intrinsic properties of its most fundamental components and their spatiotemporal relations (the so-called Humean mosaic). There are well-known arguments in the literature purporting to show that in quantum mechanics the Humean supervenience principle is violated, due to the existence of entangled states. Recently, however, arguments (...) have been presented to the effect that the supervenience principle can be defended in Bohmianmechanics. The key element of this strategy lies in the observation that according to Bohmianmechanics the fundamental facts about particles are facts about their spatial locations, and moreover, for any proper subsystem of the world its state may non-trivially depend on the spatial configuration of the rest of the universe. Thus quantum-mechanical states of subsystems do not represent their intrinsic properties but rather characterize their relations with the environment. In this paper we point out the worry that this Bohmian strategy --known as Bohumianism-- saves the letter but not the spirit of the Humean doctrine of supervenience, since it prima facie violates another seemingly important Humean principle, which we call Strong Supervenience and whose denial implies the existence of necessary connections among distinct individuals. We argue that the best defense for Bohumians is to question the fundamental existence of complex physical systems and their states by treating any reference to them as a convenient description of the underlying collection of Bohmian particles. We consider several pros and cons of this strategy. (shrink)
For a long time it was believed that it was impossible to be realist about quantum mechanics. It took quite a while for the researchers in the foundations of physics, beginning with John Stuart Bell [Bell 1987], to convince others that such an alleged impossibility had no foundation. Nowadays there are several quantum theories that can be interpreted realistically, among which Bohmianmechanics, the GRW theory, and the many-worlds theory. The debate, though, is far from being over: (...) in what respect should we be realist regarding these theories? Two diff erent proposals have been made: on the one hand, there are those who insist on a direct ontological interpretation of the wave function as representing physical bodies, and on the other hand there are those who claim that quantum mechanics is not really about the wave function. In this paper we will present and discuss one proposal of the latter kind that focuses on the notion of primitive ontology. (shrink)
Under so-called primitive ontology approaches, in fully describing the history of a quantum system, one thereby attributes interesting properties to regions of spacetime. Primitive ontology approaches, which include some varieties of Bohmianmechanics and spontaneous collapse theories, are interesting in part because they hold out the hope that it should not be too difficult to make a connection between models of quantum mechanics and descriptions of histories of ordinary macroscopic bodies. But such approaches are dualistic, positing a (...) quantum state as well as ordinary material degrees of freedom. This paper lays out and compares some options that primitive ontologists have for making sense of the quantum state. (shrink)
The mathematical structure of realist quantum theories has given rise to a debate about how our ordinary 3-dimensional space is related to the 3N-dimensional configuration space on which the wave function is defined. Which of the two spaces is our (more) fundamental physical space? I review the debate between 3N-Fundamentalists and 3D-Fundamentalists and evaluate it based on three criteria. I argue that when we consider which view leads to a deeper understanding of the physical world, especially given the deeper topological (...) explanation from the unordered configurations to the Symmetrization Postulate, we have strong reasons in favor of 3D-Fundamentalism. I conclude that our evidence favors the view that our fundamental physical space in a quantum world is 3-dimensional rather than 3N-dimensional. I outline lines of future research where the evidential balance can be restored or reversed. Finally, I draw lessons from this case study to the debate about theoretical equivalence. (shrink)
It is generally argued that if the wave-function in the de Broglie–Bohm theory is a physical field, it must be a field in configuration space. Nevertheless, it is possible to interpret the wave-function as a multi-field in three-dimensional space. This approach hasn’t received the attention yet it really deserves. The aim of this paper is threefold: first, we show that the wave-function is naturally and straightforwardly construed as a multi-field; second, we show why this interpretation is superior to other interpretations (...) discussed in the literature; third, we clarify common misconceptions. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that the (alleged) indeterminism of quantum mechanics, claimed by adherents of the Copenhagen interpretation since Born (1926), can be proved from Chaitin's follow-up to Goedel's (first) incompleteness theorem. In comparison, Bell's (1964) theorem as well as the so-called free will theorem-originally due to Heywood and Redhead (1983)-left two loopholes for deterministic hidden variable theories, namely giving up either locality (more precisely: local contextuality, as in Bohmianmechanics) or free choice (...) (i.e. uncorrelated measurement settings, as in 't Hooft's cellular automaton interpretation of quantum mechanics). The main point is that Bell and others did not exploit the full empirical content of quantum mechanics, which consists of long series of outcomes of repeated measurements (idealized as infinite binary sequences): their arguments only used the long-run relative frequencies derived from such series, and hence merely asked hidden variable theories to reproduce single-case Born probabilities defined by certain entangled bipartite states. If we idealize binary outcome strings of a fair quantum coin flip as infinite sequences, quantum mechanics predicts that these typically (i.e. almost surely) have a property called 1-randomness in logic, which is much stronger than uncomputability. This is the key to my claim, which is admittedly based on a stronger (yet compelling) notion of determinism than what is common in the literature on hidden variable theories. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the relations between objective probabilities in physical theories at different levels. In general philosophy of probability, it is frequently assumed that a fundamental deterministic theory cannot support probabilistic phenomena at any higher level, or more generally that there cannot be non-trivial probabilities in higher-level theories that are not encoded in probabilities at the lower level. These assumptions face significant challenges from some well-understood physical theories – I focus on statistical mechanics and Bohmianmechanics (...) – where a deterministic description at some lower level gives rise to an effectively probabilistic theory at some higher level; in each case, constraints arising from an objective physical limitation on the acquisition of evidence concerning the lower level plays a crucial role in supporting the higher-level probabilities. (shrink)
Western philosophy and science have a strongly dualistic tradition regarding the mental and physical aspects of reality, which makes it difficult to understand their possible causal relations. In recent debates in cognitive neuroscience it has been common to claim on the basis of neural experiments that conscious experiences are causally inefficacious. At the same time there is much evidence that consciousness does play an important role in guiding behavior. The author explores whether a new way of understanding the causal role (...) of mental states and consciousness could be provided by the ontological interpretation of the quantum theory (Bohm and Hiley, Phys. Rep. 144:323–348, 1987; Bohm and Hiley, The undivided universe: An ontological interpretation of quantum theory. Routledge: London, 1993). This interpretation radically changes our notion of matter by suggesting that a new type of active information plays a causal role at the quantum level of reality. The author thus considers to what extent the alleged causal powers of consciousness involve information, and then moves on to consider whether information in (conscious) mental states can be connected to the information at the level of quantum physics. In this way he sketches how quantum theory might help to throw light upon one of the grand challenges facing the social sciences and the humanities, namely the question of whether consciousness plays any genuine causal role in the physical world. (shrink)
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 Bohmianmechanics, 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? (shrink)
The theme of phenomenology and quantum physics is here tackled by examining some basic interpretational issues in quantum physics. One key issue in quantum theory from the very beginning has been whether it is possible to provide a quantum ontology of particles in motion in the same way as in classical physics, or whether we are restricted to stay within a more limited view of quantum systems, in terms of complementary but mutually exclusive phenomena. In phenomenological terms we could describe (...) the situation by saying that according to the usual interpretation of quantum theory, quantum phenomena require a kind of epoche. However, there are other interpretations that seem to re-establish the possibility of a mind-independent ontology at the quantum level. We will show that even such ontological interpretations contain novel, non-classical features, which require them to give a special role to “phenomena” or “appearances”, a role not encountered in classical physics. We will conclude that while ontological interpretations of quantum theory are possible, quantum theory implies the need of a certain kind of epoche even for this type of interpretations. While different from the epoche connected to phenomenological description, the “quantum epoche” nevertheless points to a potentially interesting parallel between phenomenology and quantum philosophy. (shrink)
⦿ In my dissertation I introduce, motivate and take the first steps in the realization of, the project of naturalising modal metaphysics: the transformation of the field into a chapter of the philosophy of science rather than speculative, autonomous metaphysics. ⦿ In the introduction, I explain the concept of naturalisation that I apply throughout the dissertation, which I argue to be an improvement on Ladyman and Ross' proposal for naturalised metaphysics. I also object to Williamson's proposal that modal metaphysics --- (...) or some view in the area --- is already a quasi-scientific discipline. ⦿ Recently, some philosophers have argued that the notion of metaphysical modality is as ill defined as to be of little theoretical utility. In the second chapter I intend to contribute to such skepticism. First, I observe that each of the proposed marks of the concept, except for factivity, is highly controversial; thus, its logical structure is deeply obscure. With the failure of the "first principles" approach, I examine the paradigmatic intended applications of the concept, and argue that each makes it a device for a very specific and controversial project: a device, therefore, for which a naturalist will find no use for. I conclude that there is no well-defined or theoretically useful notion of objective necessity other than logical or physical necessity, and I suggest that naturalising modal metaphysics can provide more stable methodological foundations. ⦿ In the third chapter I answer a possible objection against the in-principle viability of the project: that the concept of metaphysical modality cannot be understood through the philosophical analysis of any scientific theory, since metaphysical necessity "transcends'' natural necessity, and science only deals with the latter. I argue that the most important arguments for this transcendence thesis fail or face problems that, as of today, remain unsolved. ⦿ Call the idea that science doesn't need modality, "demodalism''. Demodalism is a first step in a naturalistic argument for modal antirealism. In the fourth chapter I examine six versions of demodalism to explain why a family of formalisms, that I call "spaces of possibility'', are (i) used in a quasi-ubiquitous way in mathematised sciences (I provide examples from theoretical computer science to microeconomics), (ii) scientifically interpreted in modal terms, and (iii) used for at least six important tasks: (1) defining laws and theories; (2) defining important concepts from different sciences (I give several examples); (3) making essential classifications; (4) providing different types of explanations; (5) providing the connection between theory and statistics, and (6) understanding the transition between a theory and its successor (as is the case with quantisation). ⦿ In fifth chapter I propose and defend a naturalised modal ontology. This is a realism about modal structure: my realism about constraints. The modal structure of a system are the relationships between its possible states and between its possible states and those of other systems. It is given by the plurality of restrictions to which said system is subject. A constraint is a factor that explains the impossibility of a class of states; I explain this concept further. First, I defend my point of view by rejecting some of its main rivals: constructive empiricism, Humean conventionalism, and wave function realism, as they fail to make sense of quantum chaos. This is because the field requires the notion of objective modal structure, and the mentioned views have trouble explaining the modal facts of quantum dynamics. Then, I argue that constraint realism supersedes these views in the context of Bohm's standard theory and mechanics, and underpins the study of quantum chaos. Finally, I consider and reject two possible problems for my point of view. ⦿ A central concern of modal metaphysicians has been to understand the logical system that best characterises necessity. In the sixth chapter I intend to recover the logical project applied to my naturalistic modal metaphysics. Scientists and philosophers of science accept different degrees of physical necessity, ranging from purely mathematically necessary facts that restrict physical behaviour, to kinetic principles, to particular dynamical constraints. I argue that this motivates a multimodal approach to modal logic, and that the time dependence of dynamics motivates a logic of historical necessity. I propose multimodal propositional (classical) logics for Bohmianmechanics and the Everettian theory of many divergent worlds, and I close with a criticism of Williamson's approach to the logic of state spaces of dynamic systems. (shrink)
The received view in physicalist philosophy of mind assumes that causation can only take place at the physical domain and that the physical domain is causally closed. It is often thought that this leaves no room for mental states qua mental to have a causal influence upon the physical domain, leading to epiphenomenalism and the problem of mental causation. However, in recent philosophy of causation there has been growing interest in a line of thought that can be called causal antifundamentalism: (...) causal notions cannot play a role in physics, because the fundamental laws of physics are radically different from causal laws. Causal anti-fundamentalism seems to challenge the received view in physicalist philosophy of mind and thus raises the possibility of there being genuine mental causation after all. This paper argues that while causal anti-fundamentalism provides a possible route to mental causation, we have reasons to think that it is incorrect. Does this mean that we have to accept the received view and give up the hope of genuine mental causation? I will suggest that the ontological interpretation of quantum theory provides us both with a view about the nature of causality in fundamental physics, as well as a view how genuine mental causation can be compatible with our fundamental (quantum) physical ontology. (shrink)
This paper shows that several live philosophical and scientific hypotheses – including the holographic principle and multiverse theory in quantum physics, and eternalism and mind-body dualism in philosophy – jointly imply an audacious new theory of free will. This new theory, "Libertarian Compatibilism", holds that the physical world is an eternally existing array of two-dimensional information – a vast number of possible pasts, presents, and futures – and the mind a nonphysical entity or set of properties that "read" that physical (...) information off to subjective conscious awareness (in much the same way that a song written on an ordinary compact-disc is only played when read by an outside medium, i.e. a CD-player). According to this theory, every possible physical “timeline” in the multiverse may be fully physically deterministic or physically-causally closed but each person’s consciousness still entirely free to choose, ex nihilo, outside of the physical order, which physically-closed timeline is experienced by conscious observers. Although Libertarian Compatibilism is admittedly fantastic, I show that it not only follows from several live scientific and philosophical hypotheses, I also show that it (A) is a far more explanatorily powerful model of quantum mechanics than more traditional interpretations (e.g. the Copenhagen, Everett, and Bohmian interpretations), (B) makes determinate, testable empirical predictions in quantum theory, and finally, (C) predicts and explains the very existence of a number of philosophical debates and positions in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will. First, I show that whereas traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics are all philosophically problematic and roughly as ontologically “extravagant” as Libertarian Compatibilism – in that they all posit “unseen” processes – Libertarian Compatibilism is nearly identical in structure to the only working simulation that human beings have ever constructed capable of reproducing (and so explaining) every general feature of quantum mechanics we perceive: namely, massive-multiplayer-online-roleplaying videogames (or MMORPGs). Although I am not the first to suggest that our world is akin to a computer simulation, I show that existing MMORPGs (online simulations we have already created) actually reproduce every general feature of quantum mechanics within their simulated-world reference-frames. Second, I show that existing MMORPGs also replicate (and so explain) many philosophical problems we face in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will – all while conforming to the Libertarian Compatibilist model of reality. -/- I conclude, as such, that as fantastic and metaphysically extravagant as Libertarian Compatibilism may initially seem, it may well be true. It explains a number of features of our reality that no other physical or metaphysical theory does. (shrink)
We investigate the implications of protective measurement for de Broglie-Bohm theory, mainly focusing on the interpretation of the wave function. It has been argued that the de Broglie-Bohm theory gives the same predictions as quantum mechanics by means of quantum equilibrium hypothesis. However, this equivalence is based on the premise that the wave function, regarded as a Ψ-field, has no mass and charge density distributions. But this premise turns out to be wrong according to protective measurement; 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. Then in the de Broglie-Bohm theory both Ψ-field and Bohmian particle will have charge density distribution for a charged quantum system. This will result in the existence of an electrostatic self-interaction of the field and an electromagnetic interaction between the field and Bohmian particle, which not only violates the superposition principle of quantum mechanics but also contradicts experimental observations. Therefore, the de Broglie-Bohm theory as a realistic interpretation of quantum mechanics is problematic according to protective measurement. Lastly, we briefly discuss the possibility that the wave function is not a physical field but a description of some sort of ergodic motion (e.g. random discontinuous motion) of particles. (shrink)
Ladyman and Ross argue that quantum objects are not individuals and use this idea to ground their metaphysical view, ontic structural realism, according to which relational structures are primary to things. LR acknowledge that there is a version of quantum theory, namely the Bohm theory, according to which particles do have denite trajectories at all times. However, LR interpret the research by Brown et al. as implying that "raw stuff" or haecceities are needed for the individuality of particles of BT, (...) and LR dismiss this as idle metaphysics. In this paper we note that Brown et al.'s research does not imply that haecceities are needed. Thus BT remains as a genuine option for those who seek to understand quantum particles as individuals. However, we go on to discuss some problems with BT which led Bohm and Hiley to modify it. This modified version underlines that, due to features such as context-dependence and non-locality, Bohmian particles have a very limited autonomy in situations where quantum effects are non-negligible. So while BT restores the possibility of quantum individuals, it also underlines the primacy of the whole over the autonomy of the parts. The later sections of the paper also examine the Bohm theory in the general mathematical context of symplectic geometry. This provides yet another way of understanding the subtle, holistic and dynamic nature of Bohmian individuals. We finally briefly consider Bohm's other main line of research, the "implicate order", which is in some ways similar to LR's structural realism. (shrink)
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 (...) for a charged quantum system, and thus there will exist a remarkable electrostatic self-interaction of its wave function, though the gravitational self-interaction is too weak to be detected presently. This not only violates the superposition principle of quantum mechanics but also contradicts experimental observations. Thus we conclude that the wave function cannot be a description of a physical field. In the second part of this paper, we further analyze the implications of these results for the main realistic interpretations of quantum mechanics, especially for de Broglie-Bohm theory. It has been argued that de Broglie-Bohm theory gives the same predictions as quantum mechanics by means of quantum equilibrium hypothesis. However, this equivalence is based on the premise that the wave function, regarded as a Ψ-field, has no mass and charge density distributions, which turns out to be wrong according to the above results. For a charged quantum system, both Ψ-field and Bohmian particle have charge density distribution. This then results in the existence of an electrostatic self-interaction of the field and an electromagnetic interaction between the field and Bohmian particle, which contradicts both the predictions of quantum mechanics and experimental observations. Therefore, de Broglie-Bohm theory as a realistic interpretation of quantum mechanics is probably wrong. Lastly, we suggest that the wave function is a description of some sort of ergodic motion (e.g. random discontinuous motion) of particles, and we also briefly analyze the implications of this suggestion for other realistic interpretations of quantum mechanics including many-worlds interpretation and dynamical collapse theories. (shrink)
This is a contribution to Paavo Pylkkänen's Festschrift. I discuss his relationship to Bohm's philosophy and a sense of holism that can be extracted from the Bohmian view.
The paper explores whether David Bohm’ s proposal about quantum theoretical active information, and the mind-matter scheme he developed on the basis of it, can help us to explain consciousness. Here it is important to acknowledge that other researchers in philosophy of mind and consciousness studies have also made use of the concept of information in their theories of mind and consciousness. For example, Dretske and Barwise and Seligman have explored the possibility that information in the sense of factual semantic (...) contents can be grounded in environmental information. For Dretske this was an important part of his attempts to give a naturalistic account of sensory experiences, qualia and consciousness. During recent years the notion of information has been used to explain consciousness most notably by David Chalmers, as well as by Giulio Tononi and his co-workers. The strategy of this paper will be to first describe Bohm’ s mind-matter scheme, and then to briefl y consider Chalmers’ and Tononi et al.’ s ideas in the light of this scheme. (shrink)
Even though the evidence‐based medicine movement (EBM) labels mechanisms a low quality form of evidence, consideration of the mechanisms on which medicine relies, and the distinct roles that mechanisms might play in clinical practice, offers a number of insights into EBM itself. In this paper, I examine the connections between EBM and mechanisms from several angles. I diagnose what went wrong in two examples where mechanistic reasoning failed to generate accurate predictions for how a dysfunctional mechanism would respond to intervention. (...) I then use these examples to explain why we should expect this kind of mechanistic reasoning to fail in systematic ways, by situating these failures in terms of evolved complexity of the causal system(s) in question. I argue that there is still a different role in which mechanisms continue to figure as evidence in EBM: namely, in guiding the application of population‐level recommendations to individual patients. Thus, even though the evidence‐based movement rejects one role in which mechanistic reasoning serves as evidence, there are other evidentiary roles for mechanistic reasoning. This renders plausible the claims of some critics of evidencebased medicine who point to the ineliminable role of clinical experience. Clearly specifying the ways in which mechanisms and mechanistic reasoning can be involved in clinical practice frames the discussion about EBM and clinical experience in more fruitful terms. (shrink)
Living organisms act as integrated wholes to maintain themselves. Individual actions can each be explained by characterizing the mechanisms that perform the activity. But these alone do not explain how various activities are coordinated and performed versatilely. We argue that this depends on a specific type of mechanism, a control mechanism. We develop an account of control by examining several extensively studied control mechanisms operative in the bacterium E. coli. On our analysis, what distinguishes a control mechanism from other mechanisms (...) is that it relies on measuring one or more variables, which results in setting constraints in the control mechanism that determine its action on flexible constraints in other mechanisms. In the most basic arrangement, the measurement process directly determines the action of the control mechanism, but in more complex arrangements signals mediate between measurements and effectors. This opens the possibility of multiple responses to the same measurement and responses based on multiple measurements. It also allows crosstalk, resulting in networks of control mechanisms. Such networks integrate the behaviors of the organism but also present a challenge in tailoring responses to particular measurements. We discuss how integrated activity can still result in differential, versatile, responses. (shrink)
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.
This paper will examine the nature of mechanisms and the distinction between the relevant and irrelevant parts involved in a mechanism’s operation. I first consider Craver’s account of this distinction in his book on the nature of mechanisms, and explain some problems. I then offer a novel account of the distinction that appeals to some resources from Mackie’s theory of causation. I end by explaining how this account enables us to better understand what mechanisms are and their various features.
In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, we postulate a low-entropy boundary condition to account for the temporal asymmetry. In this paper, I show that the Past Hypothesis also contains enough information to simplify the quantum ontology and define a unique initial condition in such a world. First, I introduce Density Matrix Realism, the thesis that the quantum universe is described by a fundamental density matrix that represents something objective. This stands in sharp contrast to Wave Function (...) Realism, the thesis that the quantum universe is described by a wave function that represents something objective. Second, I suggest that the Past Hypothesis is sufficient to determine a unique and simple density matrix. This is achieved by what I call the Initial Projection Hypothesis: the initial density matrix of the universe is the normalized projection onto the special low-dimensional Hilbert space. Third, because the initial quantum state is unique and simple, we have a strong case for the \emph{Nomological Thesis}: the initial quantum state of the universe is on a par with laws of nature. This new package of ideas has several interesting implications, including on the harmony between statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics, the dynamic unity of the universe and the subsystems, and the alleged conflict between Humean supervenience and quantum entanglement. (shrink)
In this paper I propose an interpretation of classical statistical mechanics that centers on taking seriously the idea that probability measures represent complete states of statistical mechanical systems. I show how this leads naturally to the idea that the stochasticity of statistical mechanics is associated directly with the observables of the theory rather than with the microstates (as traditional accounts would have it). The usual assumption that microstates are representationally significant in the theory is therefore dispensable, a consequence (...) which suggests interesting possibilities for developing non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and investigating inter-theoretic answers to the foundational questions of statistical mechanics. (shrink)
This book argues that the Enlightenment was a golden age for the philosophy of body, and for efforts to integrate coherently a philosophical concept of body with a mathematized theory of mechanics. Thereby, it articulates a new framing for the history of 18th-century philosophy and science. It explains why, more than a century after Newton, physics broke away from philosophy to become an autonomous domain. And, it casts fresh light on the structure and foundations of classical mechanics. Among (...) the figures studied are Malebranche, Leibniz, Du Châtelet, Boscovich, and Kant, alongside d’Alembert, Euler, Lagrange, Laplace and Cauchy. (shrink)
THE PRINCIPLE OF SUPERPOSITION. The need for a quantum theory Classical mechanics has been developed continuously from the time of Newton and applied to an ...
Leuridan (2011) questions whether mechanisms can really replace laws at the heart of our thinking about science. In doing so, he enters a long-standing discussion about the relationship between the mech-anistic structures evident in the theories of contemporary biology and the laws of nature privileged especially in traditional empiricist traditions of the philosophy of science (see e.g. Wimsatt 1974; Bechtel and Abrahamsen 2005; Bogen 2005; Darden 2006; Glennan 1996; MDC 2000; Schaffner 1993; Tabery 2003; Weber 2005). In our view, Leuridan (...) misconstrues this discussion. His weak positive claim that mechanistic sciences appeal to generalizations is true but uninteresting. His stronger claim, that all causal claims require laws, is unsupported by his arguments. Though we proceed by criticizing Leuridan’s arguments, our greater purpose is to embellish his arguments in order to show how thinking about mechanisms enriches and transforms old philosophical debates about laws in biology and provides new insights into how generalizations afford prediction, explanation and control. (shrink)
As much as assumptions about mechanisms and mechanistic explanation have deeply affected psychology, they have received disproportionately little analysis in philosophy. After a historical survey of the influences of mechanistic approaches to explanation of psychological phenomena, we specify the nature of mechanisms and mechanistic explanation. Contrary to some treatments of mechanistic explanation, we maintain that explanation is an epistemic activity that involves representing and reasoning about mechanisms. We discuss the manner in which mechanistic approaches serve to bridge levels rather than (...) reduce them, as well as the different ways in which mechanisms are discovered. Finally, we offer a more detailed example of an important psychological phenomenon for which mechanistic explanation has provided the main source of scientific understanding. (shrink)
In this chapter we examine the relation between mechanisms and laws/counterfactuals by revisiting the main notions of mechanism found in the literature. We distinguish between two different conceptions of ‘mechanism’: mechanisms-of underlie or constitute a causal process; mechanisms-for are complex systems that function so as to produce a certain behavior. According to some mechanists, a mechanism fulfills both of these roles simultaneously. The main argument of the chapter is that there is an asymmetrical dependence between both kinds of mechanisms and (...) laws/counterfactuals: while some laws and counterfactuals must be taken as primitive (non-mechanistic) facts of the world, all mechanisms depend on laws/counterfactuals. (shrink)
In this paper, I try to cause some good-natured trouble. The issue is, when will we ever stop burdening the taxpayer with conferences devoted to the quantum foundations? The suspicion is expressed that no end will be in sight until a means is found to reduce quantum theory to two or three statements of crisp physical (rather than abstract, axiomatic) significance. In this regard, no tool appears better calibrated for a direct assault than quantum information theory. Far from a strained (...) application of the latest fad to a time-honoured problem, this method holds promise precisely because a large part---but not all---of the structure of quantum theory has always concerned information. It is just that the physics community needs reminding. (shrink)
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