Synthese

, Volume 190, Issue 16, pp 3625–3649

Decoherence and the Copenhagen cut

Article

Abstract

While it is widely agreed that decoherence will not solve the measurement problem, decoherence has been used to explain the “emergence of classicality” and to eliminate the need for a Copenhagen edict that some systems simply have to be treated as classical via a quantum-classical “cut”. I argue that decoherence still relies on such a cut. Decoherence accounts derive classicality only in virtue of their incompleteness, by omission of part of the entangled system of which the classical-appearing subsystem is a part. I argue that this omission is only justified by implicit classical assumptions that objectify a subsystem and are employed via either a traditional Copenhagen cut or a functionally equivalent imposition of separability on a system in a non-separable state. I argue that decoherence cannot derive classicality without assuming it in some other form, and I provide an analysis of when it is appropriate to make these otherwise implicit classical assumptions by adopting a minimalistic Copenhagen-style approach to measurement. Finally, I argue that, ironically, the conditions for making these assumptions may be better satisfied in standard measurement situations than in cases of environmental monitoring.

Keywords

Decoherence Heisenberg cut Copenhagen interpretation Bohr Measurement Classical assumptions 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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