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“It from Bit” and Quantum Mechanics


John Archibald Wheeler is one of the staunchest advocates of the idea that information is more fundamental than anything else in physics. In this paper, we examine the status of this idea summarized in Wheeler’s slogan ‘it from bit’ in the context of Bohmian Mechanics and spontaneous collapse models. We will argue that any question about the status of ‘it from bit’ crucially depends on the particular interpretation of these theories one favors.

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  1. For Bohr views in this regard see e.g. Bohr (1950).

  2. Caprara and Vulpiani (2018) discuss the ‘it from bit’ approach in the context of statistical mechanics.

  3. A reviewer complains why we have not included the decoherence approach in our discussion. Although we agree with the reviewer on the importance of the decoherence approach, here is our reason for not including it in the discussion. The theory of decoherence is the study of interactions between the system and the environment that bring about suppression of interference. The theory of decoherence is a vast field because on the one hand it could be regarded as an interpretation of quantum mechanics as in Zurek (2003) and on the other hand its implications could be analyzed as part of other interpretations of quantum mechanics. Thus, we believe that to clarify the meaning of Wheeler’s slogan in light of decoherence requires an independent work on it in the context of Zurek’s ‘existential interpretation’ and also in the context of different interpretations of quantum mechanics. That is work for another day.

  4. For an introduction to different views about the laws of Nature see Schrenk (2017, ch. 4).

  5. For debates concerning the wave function monism see Ney and Albert (2013).

  6. Esfeld (2014) notes that the term ‘flash’ was introduced by Tumulka (2006).

  7. For more on the concept of primitive ontology see Allori (2015) and references therein.


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We thank three anonymous referees for their helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Ali Barzegar.

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Barzegar, A., Shafiee, A. & Taqavi, M. “It from Bit” and Quantum Mechanics. Found Sci 25, 375–384 (2020).

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  • It from bit
  • Information
  • Bohmian Mechanics
  • GRW theory