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Events and the Ontology of Quantum Mechanics

Abstract

In the first part of the paper I argue that an ontology of events is precise, flexible and general enough so as to cover the three main alternative formulations of quantum mechanics as well as theories advocating an antirealistic view of the wave function. Since these formulations advocate a primitive ontology of entities living in four-dimensional spacetime, they are good candidates to connect that quantum image with the manifest image of the world. However, to the extent that some form of realism about the wave function is also necessary, one needs to endorse also the idea that the wave function refers to some kind of power. In the second part, I discuss some difficulties raised by the recent proposal that in Bohmian mechanics this power is holistically possessed by all the particles in the universe.

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Notes

  1. See Auyang (1995), Dieks (2002) and Haag (2013) for a similar conclusion based on quantum field theory.

  2. Trying to establish coherence between science and intuitive assumptions about the world forced upon us by our hardwired cognitive makeup points to the ideal of unified science recently defended by Ladyman and Ross (2007).

  3. Here, I will simplify it to adapt it to my purpose.

  4. Primitivists about properties claim that objects are collection of properties, while events are simply exemplifications of properties, while primitivists about objects regard them as the ground for properties and events. Pluralistic views are against these forms of monism.

  5. Also van Bentham’s view (1983), which claims that events are times during which certain statements hold, need time (and space, I add, given relativistic injunctions) as essential ingredients.

  6. Here I should note that I do not defend any of these theories, but I am only exploring their metaphysical commitments.

  7. The first to compare GRW’s collapses to Lucretius’ indeterministic philosophy was van Fraassen’s (see Ghirardi 2005, p. 424).

  8. This is a form of moderate structural realism, since relata exist even while being devoid of an intrinsic essence. As such that are individuated via a structure.

  9. Bohr can be considered a entity realist, since he believes in the mind-independent existence of electrons, protons, atoms and so on. However, he is an antirealist about quantum theory because he denies the reality of the wave function (Faye 1991). The same split realism can be attributed to Rovelli (Dorato 2015).

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Dorato, M. Events and the Ontology of Quantum Mechanics. Topoi 34, 369–378 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11245-015-9315-6

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Keywords

  • Events
  • Primitive ontologies
  • Holistic powers