, Volume 190, Issue 17, pp 3671–3693

A modal ontology of properties for quantum mechanics


  • Newton da Costa
    • Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina
    • CONICETUniversidad de Buenos Aires
  • Mariano Lastiri
    • CONICETUniversidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero

DOI: 10.1007/s11229-012-0218-4

Cite this article as:
da Costa, N., Lombardi, O. & Lastiri, M. Synthese (2013) 190: 3671. doi:10.1007/s11229-012-0218-4


Our purpose in this paper is to delineate an ontology for quantum mechanics that results adequate to the formalism of the theory. We will restrict our aim to the search of an ontology that expresses the conceptual content of the recently proposed modal-Hamiltonian interpretation, according to which the domain referred to by non-relativistic quantum mechanics is an ontology of properties. The usual strategy in the literature has been to focus on only one of the interpretive problems of the theory and to design an interpretation to solve it, leaving aside the remaining difficulties. On the contrary, our aim in the present work is to formulate a “global” solution, according to which different problems can be adequately tackled in terms of a single ontology populated of properties, in which systems are bundles of properties. In particular, we will conceive indistinguishability between bundles as a relation derived from indistinguishability between properties, and we will show that states, when operating on combinations of indistinguishable bundles, act as if they were symmetric with no need of a symmetrization postulate.


Quantum MechanicsModal-Hamiltonian interpretationBundles of propertiesContextualityIndistinguishability

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012