European Journal for Philosophy of Science

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 387–397 | Cite as

Primitive ontology and quantum field theory

  • Vincent LamEmail author
Original paper in Philosophy of Physics


Primitive ontology is a recently much discussed approach to the ontology of quantum theory according to which the theory is ultimately about entities in 3-dimensional space and their temporal evolution. This paper critically discusses the primitive ontologies that have been suggested within the Bohmian approach to quantum field theory in the light of the existence of unitarily inequivalent representations. These primitive ontologies rely either on a Fock space representation or a wave functional representation, which are strictly speaking unambiguously available only for free systems in flat spacetime. As a consequence, it is argued that they do not constitute fundamental ontologies for quantum field theory, in contrast to the case of the Bohmian approach to quantum mechanics.


Primitive ontology Local beables Bohmian mechanics Quantum field theory Fock space Particles Fields Unitarily inequivalent representations 



I am grateful to the Swiss National Science Foundation (Ambizione grant PZ00P1 142536/1) for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Aix Marseille Université, CNRSAix en ProvenceFrance
  3. 3.School of Historical and Philosophical InquiryThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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