Scientific Realism Meets Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics
I examine the epistemological debate on scientific realism in the context of quantum mechanics (QM), focusing on the empirical underdetermination of different formulations (and interpretations) of QM. This underdetermination is unsurprising in the light of the realism debate, since much of the interpretational, metaphysical work on QM transcends those epistemic commitments of realism that cohere well with the history of science. I sketch a way of demarcating empirically idle metaphysics of QM from the empirically well-confirmed aspects of the theory in a way that withholds realist commitment to what quantum state |Ψ> represents. I argue that such commitment is not required for fulfilling the ultimate realist motivation: accounting for the empirical success of QM in a way that is in tune with a broader understanding of how theoretical science progresses and latches onto reality.
Support from Arts and Humanities Research Council (as part of Scientific Realism and the Quantum project) is gratefully acknowledged. I received helpful feedback on presentations in Leeds, San Sebastian, NYU Abu Dhabi. Special thanks to Fabio Ceravolo, Kevin Coffey, Steven French, Simon Newey, Kohei Morita for helpful discussions.
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