Foundations of Physics

, Volume 40, Issue 9–10, pp 1429–1438 | Cite as

Why Quantum Theory is Possibly Wrong

  • Holger Lyre


Quantum theory is a tremendously successful physical theory, but nevertheless suffers from two serious problems: the measurement problem and the problem of interpretational underdetermination. The latter, however, is largely overlooked as a genuine problem of its own. Both problems concern the doctrine of realism, but pull, quite curiously, into opposite directions. The measurement problem can be captured such that due to scientific realism about quantum theory common sense anti-realism follows, while theory underdetermination usually counts as an argument against scientific realism. I will also consider the more refined distinctions of ontic and epistemic realism and demonstrate that quantum theory in its most viable interpretations conflicts with at least one of the various realism claims. A way out of the conundrum is to come to the bold conclusion that quantum theory is, possibly, wrong (in the realist sense).


Quantum measurement Theory underdetermination Common sense realism Scientific realism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bell, J.S.: Against ‘Measurement’. Phys. World 8, 33–40 (1990) Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Espagnat, B.D.: Conceptions de la Physique Contemporaine. Hermann, Paris (1965) Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lyre, H., Eynck, T.O.: Curve it, gauge it or leave it? Practical underdetermination in gravitational theories. J. General Philos. Sci. 34(2), 277–303 (2003) CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lyre, H.: (2009): Is structural underdetermination possible? Synthese. DOI: 10.1007/s11229-009-9603-z
  5. 5.
    Mittelstaedt, P.: Philosophische Probleme der modernen Physik. B.I.-Wissenschaftsverlag, Mannheim (1963) Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Mittelstaedt, P.: The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and the Measurement Process. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1998) zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Schlosshauer, M.: Decoherence and the Quantum-to-Classical Transition. Springer, Berlin (2007) Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Quine, W.V.: On empirically equivalent systems of the world. Erkenntnis 9, 313–328 (1975) CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany

Personalised recommendations