, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 621-623
Date: 30 Nov 2011

The physics and metaphysics of quantum field theory

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Apart from being a long-standing interest for all sorts of philosophers for two millennia, ontology also appears to be very much involved in the development of modern and contemporary scientific theories. In our times, the ban on ontology—which was a heritage of (some, not all, of) the logical empiricists—belongs to the very history of philosophy of science: as a matter of fact, it is just contemporary physics, the so-called queen of the sciences, that forces us to re-examine fundamental ontological intuitions and to assess whether and to what extent those intuitions are compatible with the conceptual content of fundamental physical theories.

It is now more than a century that quantum mechanics (QM) represents a puzzle for all who strive for a philosophically sound image of the physical world. In fact, the controversy concerns not only the details of the several interpretations of the quantum formalism but also the very task of the theory: according to some, the theory is simply a set o ...