Advertisement

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgments

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

References

  1. Allori, V., Goldstein, S., Tumulka, R., & Zanghì, N. (2008). On the common structure of Bohmian mechanics and the Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber theory. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 59, 353–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arageorgis, A., Earman, J., & Ruetsche, L. (2002). Weyling the time away: the non-unitary implementability of quantum field dynamics on curved spacetime. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 33, 151–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, D.J. (2009). Against field interpretations of quantum field theory. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 60, 585–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bell, J.S. (1987). Speakable and unspeakable in quantum mechanics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Belot, G. (2012). Quantum states for primitive ontologists. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 2, 67–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clifton, R., & Halvorson, H. (2001). Are rindler quanta real? Inequivalent particle concepts in quantum field theory. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 52, 417–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Colin, S., & Stuyve, W. (2007). A Dirac sea pilot-wave model for quantum field theory. Journal of Physics A, 40, 7309–7342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Daumer, M., Dürr, D., Goldstein, S., & Zanghì, N. (1997). Naive realism about operators. Erkenntnis, 45, 379–397.Google Scholar
  9. Dürr, D., & Teufel, S. (2009). Bohmian mechanics. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  10. Dürr, D., Goldstein, S., Tumulka, R., & Zanghì, N. (2004). Bohmian mechanics and quantum field theory. Physical Review Letters, 93, 090402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Earman, J. (2004). Curie’s principle and spontaneous symmetry breaking. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 18, 173–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Earman, J. (2008). Superselection rules for philosophers. Erkenntnis, 69, 377–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Earman, J., & Fraser, D. (2006). Haag’s theorem and its implications for the foundations of quantum field theory. Erkenntnis, 64, 305–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fraser, D. (2008). The fate of ‘particle’ in quantum field theories with interactions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 39, 841–859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ruestche, L. (2011). Interpreting quantum theories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Struyve, W. (2010). Pilot-wave theory and quantum fields. Reports on Progress in Physics, 73, 106001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Struyve, W., & Westman, H. (2007). A minimalist pilot-wave model for quantum electrodynamics. Proceedings of the Royal Society A, 463, 3115–3129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Tumulka, Roderich (2006). On spontaneous wave function collapse and quantum field theory. Proceedings of the Royal Society A, 462, 1897–1908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations