This report reviews what quantum physics and information theory have to tell us about the age-old question, How come existence? No escape is evident from four conclusions: (1) The world cannot be a giant machine, ruled by any preestablished continuum physical law. (2) There is no such thing at the microscopic level as space or time or spacetime continuum. (3) The familiar probability function or functional, and wave equation or functional wave equation, of standard quantum theory provide mere (...) continuum idealizations and by reason of this circumstance conceal the information-theoretic source from which they derive. (4) No element in the description of physics shows itself as closer to primordial than the elementary quantum phenomenon, that is, the elementary device-intermediated act of posing a yes-no physical question and eliciting an answer or, in brief, the elementary act of observer-participancy. Otherwise stated, every physical quantity, every it, derives its ultimate significance from bits, binary yes-or-no indications, a conclusion which we epitomize in the phrase, it from bit. (shrink)
Eternalism, the view that what we regard locally as being located in the past, the present and the future equally exists, is the best ontological account of temporal existence in line with special and general relativity. However, special and general relativity are not fundamental theories and several research programs aim at finding a more fundamental theory of quantum gravity weaving together all we know from relativistic physics and quantum physics. Interestingly, some of these approaches assert that time is (...) not fundamental. If time is not fundamental, what does it entail for eternalism and the standard debate over existence in time? First, I will argue that the non-fundamentality of time to be found in string theory entails standard eternalism. Second, I will argue that the non-fundamentality of time to be found in loop quantum gravity entails atemporal eternalism, namely a novel position in the spirit of standard eternalism. (shrink)
Spacetime functionalism is the view that spacetime is a functional structure implemented by a more fundamental ontology. Lam and Wüthrich have recently argued that spacetime functionalism helps to solve the epistemological problem of empirical coherence in quantum gravity and suggested that it also (dis)solves the hard problem of spacetime, namely the problem of offering a picture consistent with the emergence of spacetime from a non-spatio-temporal structure. First, I will deny that spacetime functionalism solves the hard problem by showing that (...) it comes in various species, each entailing a different attitude towards, or answer to, the hard problem. Second, I will argue that the existence of an explanatory gap, which grounds the hard problem, has not been correctly taken into account in the literature. (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)
This paper is essentially a quantum philosophical challenge: starting from simple assumptions, we argue about an ontological approach to quantum mechanics. In this paper, we will focus only on the assumptions. While these assumptions seems to solve the ontological aspect of theory many others epistemological problems arise. For these reasons, in order to prove these assumptions, we need to find a consistent mathematical context (i.e. time reverse problem, quantum entanglement, implications on quantum fields, Schr¨odinger cat states, (...) the role of observer, the role of mind ). (shrink)
Privileged-perspective realism (PPR) is a version of metaphysical realism that takes certain irreducibly perspectival facts to be partly constitutive of reality. PPR asserts that there is a single metaphysically privileged standpoint from which these perspectival facts obtain. This chapter discusses several views that fall under the category of privileged-perspective realism. These include presentism, which is PPR about tensed facts, and non-multiverse interpretations of quantum mechanics, which the chapter argues, constitute PPR about world-indexed facts. Using the framework of the bird (...) perspective and the frog perspective, it argues that PPR views methodologically treat the frog perspective as metaphysically primary. This chapter considers case studies of metaphysical interpretations of special relativity and quantum mechanics in order to demonstrate that such motivations for PPR are non-naturalistic. Further, it considers psychological factors that motivate the appeal of PPR views and offers naturalistic explanations of why we should not expect them to produce an adequate metaphysics of science. (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 Bohmian mechanics, 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)
I examine the epistemological debate on scientific realism in the context of quantum physics, focusing on the empirical underdetermin- ation of different formulations and interpretations of QM. I will argue that much of the interpretational, metaphysical work on QM tran- scends the kinds of realist commitments that are well-motivated in the light of the history of science. I sketch a way of demarcating empirically well-confirmed aspects of QM from speculative quantum metaphysics in a way that coheres with anti-realist (...) evidence from the history of science. The minimal realist attitude sketched withholds realist com- mitment to what quantum state |Ψ⟩ represents. I argue that such commitment is not required for fulfilling the ultimate realist motiva- tion: accounting for the empirical success of quantum mechanics in a way that is in tune with a broader understanding of how theoretical science progresses and latches onto reality. (shrink)
Determinism is established in quantum mechanics by tracing the probabilities in the Born rules back to the absolute (overall) phase constants of the wave functions and recognizing these phase constants as pseudorandom numbers. The reduction process (collapse) is independent of measurement. It occurs when two wavepackets overlap in ordinary space and satisfy a certain criterion, which depends on the phase constants of both wavepackets. Reduction means contraction of the wavepackets to the place of overlap. The measurement apparatus fans out (...) the incoming wavepacket into spatially separated eigenpackets of the chosen observable. When one of these eigenpackets together with a wavepacket located in the apparatus satisfy the criterion, the reduction associates the place of contraction with an eigenvalue of the observable. The theory is nonlocal and contextual. Keywords:. (shrink)
Scientific realism is the view that our best scientific theories can be regarded as (approximately) true. This is connected with the view that science, physics in particular, and metaphysics could (and should) inform one another: on the one hand, science tells us what the world is like, and on the other hand, metaphysical principles allow us to select between the various possible theories which are underdetermined by the data. Nonetheless, quantum mechanics has always been regarded as, at best, puzzling, (...) if not contradictory. As such, it has been considered for a long time at odds with scientific realism, and thus a naturalized quantum metaphysics was deemed impossible. Luckily, now we have many quantum theories compatible with a realist interpretation. However, scientific realists assumed that the wave-function, regarded as the principal ingredient of quantum theories, had to represent a physical entity, and because of this they struggled with quantum superpositions. In this paper I discuss a particular approach which makes quantum mechanics compatible with scientific realism without doing that. In this approach, the wave-function does not represent matter which is instead represented by some spatio-temporal entity dubbed the primitive ontology: point-particles, continuous matter fields, space-time events. I argue how within this framework one develops a distinctive theory-construction schema, which allows to perform a more informed theory evaluation by analyzing the various ingredients of the approach and their inter-relations. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Conway and Kochen’s Free Will Theorem (1,2) to the conclusion that quantum mechanics and relativity entail freedom for the particles, does not change the situation in favor of a libertarian position as they would like. In fact, the theorem more or less implicitly assumes that people are free, and thus it begs the question. Moreover, it does not prove neither that if people are free, so are particles, nor that the property people possess (...) when they are said to be free is the same as the one particles possess when they are claimed to be free. I then analyze the Free State Theorem (2), which generalizes the Free Will Theorem without the assumption that people are free, and I show that it does not prove anything about free will, since the notion of freedom for particles is either inconsistent, or it does not concern our common understanding of freedom. In both cases, the Free Will Theorem and the Free State Theorem do not provide any enlightenment on the constraints physics can pose on free will. (shrink)
We describe here a series of experimental analogies between fluid mechanics and quantum mechanics recently discovered by a team of physicists. These analogies arise in droplet systems guided by a surface (or pilot) wave. We argue that these experimental facts put ancient theoretical work by Madelung on the analogy between fluid and quantum mechanics into new light. After re-deriving Madelung’s result starting from two basic fluid-mechanical equations (the Navier-Stokes equation and the continuity equation), we discuss the relation with (...) the de Broglie-Bohm theory. This allows to make a direct link with the droplet experiments. It is argued that the fluid-mechanical interpretation of quantum mechanics, if it can be extended to the general N-particle case, would have an advantage over the Bohm interpretation: it could rid Bohm’s theory of its strongly non-local character. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Important features of space and time are taken to be missing in quantum gravity, allegedly requiring an explanation of the emergence of spacetime from non-spatio-temporal theories. In this paper, we argue that the explanatory gap between general relativity and non-spatio- temporal quantum gravity theories might significantly be reduced with two moves. First, we point out that spacetime is already partially missing in the context of general relativity when understood from a dynamical perspective. Second, we argue that most approaches (...) to quantum gravity already start with an in-built distinction between structures to which the asymmetry between space and time can be traced back. (shrink)
Which way does causation proceed? The pattern in the material world seems to be upward: particles to molecules to organisms to brains to mental processes. In contrast, the principles of quantum mechanics allow us to see a pattern of downward causation. These new ideas describe sets of multiple levels in which each level influences the levels below it through generation and selection. Top-down causation makes exciting sense of the world: we can find analogies in psychology, in the formation of (...) our minds, in locating the source of consciousness, and even in the possible logic of belief in God. (shrink)
The purpose of this book is to explain Quantum Bayesianism (‘QBism’) to “people without easy access to mathematical formulas and equations” (4-5). Qbism is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that “doesn’t meddle with the technical aspects of the theory [but instead] reinterprets the fundamental terms of the theory and gives them new meaning” (3). The most important motivation for QBism, enthusiastically stated on the book’s cover, is that QBism provides “a way past quantum theory’s paradoxes and puzzles” (...) such that much of the weirdness associated with quantum theory “dissolves under the lens of QBism”. (shrink)
A longstanding issue in attempts to understand the Everett (Many-Worlds) approach to quantum mechanics is the origin of the Born rule: why is the probability given by the square of the amplitude? Following Vaidman, we note that observers are in a position of self-locating uncertainty during the period between the branches of the wave function splitting via decoherence and the observer registering the outcome of the measurement. In this period it is tempting to regard each branch as equiprobable, but (...) we argue that the temptation should be resisted. Applying lessons from this analysis, we demonstrate (using methods similar to those of Zurek's envariance-based derivation) that the Born rule is the uniquely rational way of apportioning credence in Everettian quantum mechanics. In doing so, we rely on a single key principle: changes purely to the environment do not affect the probabilities one ought to assign to measurement outcomes in a local subsystem. We arrive at a method for assigning probabilities in cases that involve both classical and quantum self-locating uncertainty. This method provides unique answers to quantum Sleeping Beauty problems, as well as a well-defined procedure for calculating probabilities in quantum cosmological multiverses with multiple similar observers. (shrink)
In the author’s previous contribution to this journal (Rosen 2015), a phenomenological string theory was proposed based on qualitative topology and hypercomplex numbers. The current paper takes this further by delving into the ancient Chinese origin of phenomenological string theory. First, we discover a connection between the Klein bottle, which is crucial to the theory, and the Ho-t’u, a Chinese number archetype central to Taoist cosmology. The two structures are seen to mirror each other in expressing the psychophysical (phenomenological) action (...) pattern at the heart of microphysics. But tackling the question of quantum gravity requires that a whole family of topological dimensions be brought into play. What we find in engaging with these structures is a closely related family of Taoist forebears that, in concert with their successors, provide a blueprint for cosmic evolution. Whereas conventional string theory accounts for the generation of nature’s fundamental forces via a notion of symmetry breaking that is essentially static and thus unable to explain cosmogony successfully, phenomenological/Taoist string theory entails the dialectical interplay of symmetry and asymmetry inherent in the principle of synsymmetry. This dynamic concept of cosmic change is elaborated on in the three concluding sections of the paper. Here, a detailed analysis of cosmogony is offered, first in terms of the theory of dimensional development and its Taoist (yin-yang) counterpart, then in terms of the evolution of the elemental force particles through cycles of expansion and contraction in a spiraling universe. The paper closes by considering the role of the analyst per se in the further evolution of the cosmos. (shrink)
This paper offers a critical assessment of the current state of the debate about the identity and individuality of material objects. Its main aim, in particular, is to show that, in a sense to be carefully specified, the opposition between the Leibnizian ‘reductionist’ tradition, based on discernibility, and the sort of ‘primitivism’ that denies that facts of identity and individuality must be analysable has become outdated. In particular, it is argued that—contrary to a widespread consensus—‘naturalised’ metaphysics supports both the acceptability (...) of non-qualitatively grounded (both ‘contextual’ and intrinsic) identity and a pluralistic approach to individuality and individuation. A case study is offered that focuses on non-relativistic quantum mechanics, in the context of which primitivism about identity and individuality, rather than being regarded as unscientific, is on the contrary suggested to be preferable to the complicated forms of reductionism that have recently been proposed. More generally, by assuming a plausible form of anti-reductionism about scientific theories and domains, it is claimed that science can be regarded as compatible with, or even as suggesting, the existence of a series of equally plausible grades of individuality. The kind of individuality that prevails in a certain context and at a given level can be ascertained only on the basis of the specific scientific theory at hand. (shrink)
We discuss the fate of the correspondence principle beyond quantum mechanics, specifically in quantum field theory and quantum gravity, in connection with the intrinsic limitations of the human ability to observe the external world. We conclude that the best correspondence principle is made of unitarity, locality, proper renormalizability (a refinement of strict renormalizability), combined with fundamental local symmetries and the requirement of having a finite number of fields. Quantum gravity is identified in an essentially unique way. (...) The gauge interactions are uniquely identified in form. Instead, the matter sector remains basically unrestricted. The major prediction is the violation of causality at small distances. (shrink)
A number of researchers today make an appeal to quantum physics when trying to develop a satisfactory account of the mind, an appeal still felt to be controversial by many. Often these "quantum approaches" try to explain some well-known features of conscious experience (or mental processes more generally), thus using quantum physics to enrich the explanatory framework or explanans used in consciousness studies and cognitive science. This paper considers the less studied question of whether quantum physical (...) intuitions could help us to draw attention to new or neglected aspects of the mind in introspection, and in this way change our view about what needs explanation in the first place. Although prima facie implausible, it is suggested that this could happen, for example, if there were analogies between quantum processes and mental processes (e.g., the process of thinking). The naive idea is that such analogies would help us to see mental processes and conscious experience in a new way. It has indeed been proposed long ago that such analogies exist, and this paper first focuses at some length on David Bohm's formulation of them from 1951. It then briefly considers these analogies in relation to Smolensky's more recent analogies between cognitive science and physics, and Pylkko's aconceptual view of the mind. Finally, Bohm's early analogies will be briefly considered in relation to the analogies between quantum processes and the mind he proposed in his later work. -/- [This article is a modified version of an article that was first published in the anthology Being and Brain: At the Boundary between Science, Philosophy, Language and Arts, ed. by G. Globus, K. Pribram and G. Vitiello, Advances in Consciousness Research 58, John Benjamins, Amsterdam 2004, pp. 165-195.]. (shrink)
The correspondence principle made of unitarity, locality and renormalizability has been very successful in quantum field theory. Among the other things, it helped us build the standard model. However, it also showed important limitations. For example, it failed to restrict the gauge group and the matter sector in a powerful way. After discussing its effectiveness, we upgrade it to make room for quantum gravity. The unitarity assumption is better understood, since it allows for the presence of physical particles (...) as well as fake particles (fakeons). The locality assumption is applied to an interim classical action, since the true classical action is nonlocal and emerges from the quantization and a later process of classicization. The renormalizability assumption is refined to single out the special role of the gauge couplings. We show that the upgraded principle leads to an essentially unique theory of quantum gravity. In particular, in four dimensions, a fakeon of spin 2, together with a scalar field, is able to make the theory renormalizable while preserving unitarity. We offer an overview of quantum field theories of particles and fakeons in various dimensions, with and without gravity. (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 ...
*A shortened version of this paper will appear in Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science, Dasgupta and Weslake, eds. Routledge.* This paper describes the case that can be made for a high-dimensional ontology in quantum mechanics based on the virtues of avoiding both nonseparability and non locality.
In my 2013 article, “A New Theory of Free Will”, I argued that several serious hypotheses in philosophy and modern physics jointly entail that our reality is structurally identical to a peer-to-peer (P2P) networked computer simulation. The present paper outlines how quantum phenomena emerge naturally from the computational structure of a P2P simulation. §1 explains the P2P Hypothesis. §2 then sketches how the structure of any P2P simulation realizes quantum superposition and wave-function collapse (§2.1.), quantum indeterminacy (§2.2.), (...) wave-particle duality (§2.3.), and quantum entanglement (§2.4.). Finally, §3 argues that although this is by no means a philosophical proof that our reality is a P2P simulation, it provides ample reasons to investigate the hypothesis further using the methods of computer science, physics, philosophy, and mathematics. (shrink)
In this paper I elicit a prediction from structural realism and compare it, not to a historical case, but to a contemporary scientific theory. If structural realism is correct, then we should expect physics to develop theories that fail to provide an ontology of the sort sought by traditional realists. If structure alone is responsible for instrumental success, we should expect surplus ontology to be eliminated. Quantum field theory (QFT) provides the framework for some of the best confirmed theories (...) in science, but debates over its ontology are vexed. Rather than taking a stand on these matters, the structural realist can embrace QFT as an example of just the kind of theory SR should lead us to expect. Yet, it is not clear that QFT meets the structuralist's positive expectation by providing a structure for the world. In particular, the problem of unitarily inequivalent representations threatens to undermine the possibility of QFT providing a unique structure for the world. In response to this problem, I suggest that the structuralist should endorse pluralism about structure. (shrink)
Although written in Japanese, an overall picture of quantum physics is drawn, which would surely be useful for beginners as well as researchers of the humanities.
In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, it is standard to postulate that the initial wave function started in a particular macrostate---the special low-entropy macrostate selected by the Past Hypothesis. Moreover, there is an additional postulate about statistical mechanical probabilities according to which the initial wave function is a ''typical'' choice in the macrostate. Together, they support a probabilistic version of the Second Law of Thermodynamics: typical initial wave functions will increase in entropy. Hence, there are (...) two sources of randomness in such a universe: the quantum-mechanical probabilities of the Born rule and the statistical mechanical probabilities of the Statistical Postulate. I propose a new way to understand time's arrow in a quantum universe. It is based on what I call the Thermodynamic Theories of Quantum Mechanics. According to this perspective, there is a natural choice for the initial quantum state of the universe, which is given by not a wave function but by a density matrix. The density matrix plays a microscopic role: it appears in the fundamental dynamical equations of those theories. The density matrix also plays a macroscopic / thermodynamic role: it is exactly the projection operator onto the Past Hypothesis subspace. Thus, given an initial subspace, we obtain a unique choice of the initial density matrix. I call this property "the conditional uniqueness" of the initial quantum state. The conditional uniqueness provides a new and general strategy to eliminate statistical mechanical probabilities in the fundamental physical theories, by which we can reduce the two sources of randomness to only the quantum mechanical one. I also explore the idea of an absolutely unique initial quantum state, in a way that might realize Penrose's idea of a strongly deterministic universe. (shrink)
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)
Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity (QG), where novel empirical data is lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is UV completion: the idea that a theory should (formally) hold up to all possible high energies. We argue---/contra/ standard scientific practice---that UV-completion is poorly-motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we (...) explore the reasons for expecting, or desiring, a UV-complete theory, as well as analyse how UV completion is used, and how it should be used, in various specific approaches to QG. (shrink)
Relationships between current theories, and relationships between current theories and the sought theory of quantum gravity (QG), play an essential role in motivating the need for QG, aiding the search for QG, and defining what would count as QG. Correspondence is the broad class of inter-theory relationships intended to demonstrate the necessary compatibility of two theories whose domains of validity overlap, in the overlap regions. The variety of roles that correspondence plays in the search for QG are illustrated, using (...) examples from specific QG approaches. Reduction is argued to be a special case of correspondence, and to form part of the definition of QG. Finally, the appropriate account of emergence in the context of QG is presented, and compared to conceptions of emergence in the broader philosophy literature. It is argued that, while emergence is likely to hold between QG and general relativity, emergence is not part of the definition of QG, and nor can it serve usefully in the development and justification of the new theory. (shrink)
We expound an alternative to the Copenhagen interpretation of the formalism of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. The basic difference is that the new interpretation is formulated in the language of epistemological realism. It involves a change in some basic physical concepts. The ψ function is no longer interpreted as a probability amplitude of the observed behaviour of elementary particles but as an objective physical field representing the particles themselves. The particles are thus extended objects whose extension varies in time according (...) to the variation of ψ. They are considered as fundamental regions of space with some kind of nonlocality. Special consideration is given to the Heisenberg relations, the Einstein-Podolsky- Rosen correlations, the reduction process, the problem of measurement, and the quantum-statistical distributions. (shrink)
I offer an account of how the quantum theory we have helps us explain so much. The account depends on a pragmatist interpretation of the theory: this takes a quantum state to serve as a source of sound advice to physically situated agents on the content and appropriate degree of belief about matters concerning which they are currently inevitably ignorant. The general account of how to use quantum states and probabilities to explain otherwise puzzling regularities is then (...) illustrated by showing how we can explain single-particle interference phenomena, the stability of matter, and interference of Bose–Einstein condensates. Finally, I note some open problems and relate this account to alternative approaches to explanation that emphasize the importance of causation, of unification, and of structure. 1 Introduction2 Two Requirements on Explanations in Physics3 What We Can use Quantum Theory to Explain4 The Function of Quantum States and Born Probabilities5 How These Functions Contribute to the Explanatory Task6 Example One: Single-Particle Interference7 Example Two: Explanation of the Stability of Matter8 Example Three: Bose Condensation9 Conclusion. (shrink)
In this paper, I introduce an intrinsic account of the quantum state. This account contains three desirable features that the standard platonistic account lacks: (1) it does not refer to any abstract mathematical objects such as complex numbers, (2) it is independent of the usual arbitrary conventions in the wave function representation, and (3) it explains why the quantum state has its amplitude and phase degrees of freedom. -/- Consequently, this account extends Hartry Field’s program outlined in Science (...) Without Numbers (1980), responds to David Malament’s long-standing impossibility conjecture (1982), and establishes an important first step towards a genuinely intrinsic and nominalistic account of quantum mechanics. I will also compare the present account to Mark Balaguer’s (1996) nominalization of quantum mechanics and discuss how it might bear on the debate about “wave function realism.” In closing, I will suggest some possible ways to extend this account to accommodate spinorial degrees of freedom and a variable number of particles (e.g. for particle creation and annihilation). -/- Along the way, I axiomatize the quantum phase structure as what I shall call a “periodic difference structure” and prove a representation theorem as well as a uniqueness theorem. These formal results could prove fruitful for further investigation into the metaphysics of phase and theoretical structure. (shrink)
It has been argued that the transition from classical to quantum mechanics is an example of a Kuhnian scientific revolution, in which there is a shift from the simple, intuitive, straightforward classical paradigm, to the quantum, convoluted, counterintuitive, amazing new quantum paradigm. In this paper, after having clarified what these quantum paradigms are supposed to be, I analyze whether they constitute a radical departure from the classical paradigm. Contrary to what is commonly maintained, I argue that, (...) in addition to radical quantum paradigms, there are also legitimate ways of understanding the quantum world that do not require any substantial change to the classical paradigm. (shrink)
Suppose that God exists, and that God does not violate the laws of nature he created for the world. God can nevertheless act in the world, by acting at the indeterministic quantum level. This chapter makes two specific points about God’s quantum action. First, on some ways of understanding quantum mechanics (specifically, the GRW theory, and the associated Continuous Spontaneous Localization theories), God’s actions are almost unlimited, contrary to those who say that God would be quite constrained (...) in his action, if he only acted at the indeterministic quantum level. Second, on these ways of understanding quantum mechanics, God’s actions in the world need not be episodic, contrary to what for example John Polkinghorne has claimed about God’s quantum action. This discussion builds on discussions by Al Plantinga about noninterventionist special divine action. (shrink)
In this paper I put forward a new micro realistic, fundamentally probabilistic, propensiton version of quantum theory. According to this theory, the entities of the quantum domain - electrons, photons, atoms - are neither particles nor fields, but a new kind of fundamentally probabilistic entity, the propensiton - entities which interact with one another probabilistically. This version of quantum theory leaves the Schroedinger equation unchanged, but reinterprets it to specify how propensitons evolve when no probabilistic transitions occur. (...) Probabilisitic transitions occur when new "particles" are created as a result of inelastic interactions. All measurements are just special cases of this. This propensiton version of quantum theory, I argue, solves the wave/particle dilemma, is free of conceptual problems that plague orthodox quantum theory, recovers all the empirical success of orthodox quantum theory, and at the same time yields as yet untested predictions that differ from those of orthodox quantum theory. (shrink)
Mereotopology faces problems when its methods are extended to deal with time and change. We offer a new solution to these problems, based on a theory of partitions of reality which allows us to simulate (and also to generalize) aspects of set theory within a mereotopological framework. This theory is extended to a theory of coarse- and ﬁne-grained histories (or ﬁnite sequences of partitions evolving over time), drawing on machinery developed within the framework of the so-called ‘consistent histories’ interpretation of (...)quantum mechanics. (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)
This article probes the question of what interpretations of quantum mechanics actually accomplish. In other domains, which are briefly considered, interpretations serve to make alien systematizations intelligible to us. This often involves clarifying the status of their implicit ontology. A survey of interpretations of non-relativistic quantum mechanics supports the evaluation that these interpretations make a contribution to philosophy, but not to physics. Interpretations of quantum field theory are polarized by the divergence between the Lagrangian field theory that (...) led to the Standard Model of Particle physics and the Algebraic quantum field theory, that discounts an ontology of particles. Ruetsche's interpretation, it is argued, offers a potential for loosening the sharp polarization that presently obtains. A brief evaluation focuses on the functional ontology of quantum field theory considered as an effective theory. (shrink)
The conspicuous similarities between interpretive strategies in classical statistical mechanics and in quantum mechanics may be grounded on their employment of common implementations of probability. The objective probabilities which represent the underlying stochasticity of these theories can be naturally associated with three of their common formal features: initial conditions, dynamics, and observables. Various well-known interpretations of the two theories line up with particular choices among these three ways of implementing probability. This perspective has significant application to debates on primitive (...) ontology and to the quantum measurement problem. (shrink)
Although quantum mechanics can accurately predict the probability distribution of outcomes in an ensemble of identical systems, it cannot predict the result of an individual system. All the local and global hidden variable theories attempting to explain individual behavior have been proved invalid by experiments (violation of Bell’s inequality) and theory. As an alternative, Schrodinger and others have hypothesized existence of free will in every particle which causes randomness in individual results. However, these free will theories have failed to (...) quantitatively explain the quantum mechanical results. In this paper, we take the clue from quantum biology to get the explanation of quantum mechanical distribution. Recently it was reported that mutations (which are quantum processes) in DNA of E. coli bacteria instead of being random were biased in a direction such that the chance of survival of the bacteria is increased. Extrapolating it, we assume that all the particles including inanimate fundamental particles have a will and that is biased to satisfy the collective goals of the ensemble. Using this postulate, we mathematically derive the correct spin probability distribution without using quantum mechanical formalism (operators and Born’s rule) and exactly reproduce the quantum mechanical spin correlation in entangled pairs. Using our concept, we also mathematically derive the form of quantum mechanical wave function of free particle which is conventionally a postulate of quantum mechanics. Thus, we prove that the origin of quantum mechanical results lies in the will (or consciousness) of the objects biased by the collective goal of ensemble or universe. This biasing by the group on individuals can be called as “coherence” which directly represents the extent of life present in the ensemble. So, we can say that life originates out of establishment of coherence in a group of inanimate particles. (shrink)
Our conscious minds exist in the Universe, therefore they should be identified with physical states that are subject to physical laws. In classical theories of mind, the mental states are identified with brain states that satisfy the deterministic laws of classical mechanics. This approach, however, leads to insurmountable paradoxes such as epiphenomenal minds and illusionary free will. Alternatively, one may identify mental states with quantum states realized within the brain and try to resolve the above paradoxes using the standard (...) Hilbert space formalism of quantum mechanics. In this essay, we first show that identification of mind states with quantum states within the brain is biologically feasible, and then elaborating on the mathematical proofs of two quantum mechanical no-go theorems, we explain why quantum theory might have profound implications for the scientific understanding of one's mental states, self identity, beliefs and free will. (shrink)
The paper investigates the epistemic conception of quantum states---the view that quantum states are not descriptions of quantum systems but rather reflect the assigning agents' epistemic relations to the systems. This idea, which can be found already in the works of Copenhagen adherents Heisenberg and Peierls, has received increasing attention in recent years because it promises an understanding of quantum theory in which neither the measurement problem nor a conflict between quantum non-locality and relativity theory (...) arises. Here it is argued that the main challenge for proponents of this idea is to make sense of the notion of a state assignment being performed correctly without thereby acknowledging the notion of a true state of a quantum system---a state it is in. An account based on the epistemic conception of states is proposed that fulfills this requirement by interpreting the rules governing state assignment as constitutive rules in the sense of John Searle. (shrink)
A growing literature is premised on the claim that quantum mechanics provides evidence for metaphysical indeterminacy. But does it? None of the currently fashionable realist interpretations involve fundamental indeterminacy and the ‘standard interpretation’, to the extent that it can be made out, doesn't require indeterminacy either.
Viewed in the light of the remarkable performance of ‘Watson’ - IBMs proprietary artificial intelligence computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language - on the US general knowledge quiz show ‘Jeopardy’, we review two experiments on formal systems - one in the domain of quantum physics, the other involving a pictographic languaging game - whereby behaviour seemingly characteristic of domain understanding is generated by the mere mechanical application of simple rules. By re-examining both experiments in the (...) context of Searle’s Chinese Room Argument, we suggest their results merely endorse Searle’s core intuition: that ‘syntactical manipulation of symbols is not sufficient for semantics’. Although, pace Watson, some artificial intelligence practitioners have suggested that more complex, higher-level operations on formal symbols are required to instantiate understanding in computational systems, we show that even high-level calls to Google translate would not enable a computer qua ‘formal symbol processor’ to understand the language it processes. We thus conclude that even the most recent developments in ‘quantum linguistics’ will not enable computational systems to genuinely understand natural language. (shrink)
This paper shows how the classical finite probability theory (with equiprobable outcomes) can be reinterpreted and recast as the quantum probability calculus of a pedagogical or toy model of quantum mechanics over sets (QM/sets). There have been several previous attempts to develop a quantum-like model with the base field of ℂ replaced by ℤ₂. Since there are no inner products on vector spaces over finite fields, the problem is to define the Dirac brackets and the probability calculus. (...) The previous attempts all required the brackets to take values in ℤ₂. But the usual QM brackets <ψ|ϕ> give the "overlap" between states ψ and ϕ, so for subsets S,T⊆U, the natural definition is <S|T>=|S∩T| (taking values in the natural numbers). This allows QM/sets to be developed with a full probability calculus that turns out to be a non-commutative extension of classical Laplace-Boole finite probability theory. The pedagogical model is illustrated by giving simple treatments of the indeterminacy principle, the double-slit experiment, Bell's Theorem, and identical particles in QM/Sets. A more technical appendix explains the mathematics behind carrying some vector space structures between QM over ℂ and QM/Sets over ℤ₂. (shrink)
A fully micro realistic, propensity version of quantum theory is proposed, according to which fundamental physical entities - neither particles nor fields - have physical characteristics which determine probabilistically how they interact with one another . The version of quantum "smearon" theory proposed here does not modify the equations of orthodox quantum theory: rather, it gives a radically new interpretation to these equations. It is argued that there are strong general reasons for preferring quantum "smearon" theory (...) to orthodox quantum theory; the proposed change in physical interpretation leads quantum "smearon" theory to make experimental predictions subtly different from those of orthodox quantum theory. Some possible crucial experiments are considered. (shrink)
In this paper I outline my propensiton version of quantum theory (PQT). PQT is a fully micro-realistic version of quantum theory that provides us with a very natural possible solution to the fundamental wave/particle problem, and is free of the severe defects of orthodox quantum theory (OQT) as a result. PQT makes sense of the quantum world. PQT recovers all the empirical success of OQT and is, furthermore, empirically testable (although not as yet tested). I argue (...) that Einstein almost put forward this version of quantum theory in 1916/17 in his papers on spontaneous and induced radiative transitions, but retreated from doing so because he disliked the probabilistic character of the idea. Subsequently, the idea was overlooked because debates about quantum theory polarised into the Bohr/Heisenberg camp, which argued for the abandonment of realism and determinism, and the Einstein/Schrödinger camp, which argued for the retention of realism and determinism, no one, as a result, pursuing the most obvious option of retaining realism but abandoning determinism. It is this third, overlooked option that leads to PQT. PQT has implications for quantum field theory, the standard model, string theory, and cosmology. The really important point, however, is that it is experimentally testable. I indicate two experiments in principle capable of deciding between PQT and OQT. (shrink)
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