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Charting the landscape of interpretation, theory rivalry, and underdetermination in quantum mechanics

  • Pablo AcuñaEmail author


When we speak about different interpretations of quantum mechanics it is suggested that there is one single quantum theory that can be interpreted in different ways. However, after an explicit characterization of what it is to interpret quantum mechanics, the right diagnosis is that we have a case of predictively equivalent rival theories. I extract some lessons regarding the resulting underdetermination of theory choice. Issues about theoretical identity, theoretical and methodological pluralism, and the prospects for a realist stance towards quantum theory can be properly addressed once we recognize that interpretations of quantum mechanics are rival theories.


Quantum mechanics Empirical equivalence Underdetermination Pluralism Theory identity 



I thank four anonymous referees for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this work. I thank Angelo Bassi, Max Maaneli Derakshani and Francesca Vidotto for bibliographic references. The first version of this article was written during my stay as a Visiting Fellow in the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh. I thank its Director Edouard Machery and everybody in the Center for their hospitality, and James Fraser and everyone in the reading group for their helpful comments on the first draft. This work was financially supported by FONDECYT Grant 11170608.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de FilosofíaPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile

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