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Some remarks on the mentalistic reformulation of the measurement problem: a reply to S. Gao

  • Andrea OldofrediEmail author


Gao (Synthese, 2017. presents a new mentalistic reformulation of the well-known measurement problem affecting the standard formulation of quantum mechanics. According to this author, it is essentially a determinate-experience problem, namely a problem about the compatibility between the linearity of the Schrödinger’s equation, the fundamental law of quantum theory, and definite experiences perceived by conscious observers. In this essay I aim to clarify (i) that the well-known measurement problem is a mathematical consequence of quantum theory’s formalism, and that (ii) its mentalistic variant does not grasp the relevant causes which are responsible for this puzzling issue. The first part of this paper will be concluded claiming that the “physical” formulation of the measurement problem cannot be reduced to its mentalistic version. In the second part of this work it will be shown that, contrary to the case of quantum mechanics, Bohmian mechanics and GRW theories provide clear explanations of the physical processes responsible for the definite localization of macroscopic objects and, consequently, for well-defined perceptions of measurement outcomes by conscious observers. More precisely, the macro-objectification of states of experimental devices is obtained exclusively in virtue of their clear ontologies and dynamical laws without any intervention of human observers. Hence, it will be argued that in these theoretical frameworks the measurement problem and the determinate-experience problem are logically distinct issues.


Measurement problem Quantum mechanics Observer Bohmian mechanics GRW 



I would like to thank Olga Sarno, Michael Esfeld and Davide Romano for helpful comments on this paper. I am grateful to the Swiss National Science Foundation for financial support (Grant No. 105212-175971).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section de PhilosophieUniversité de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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