The Quantum Revolution in Philosophy


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Healey, Richard
Año de Edición
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Quantum theory launched a revolution in physics. But we have yet to understand the revolution's significance for philosophy. Richard Healey opens a path to such understanding. Most studies of the conceptual foundations of quantum theory first try to interpret the theory - to say how the world could possibly be the way the theory says it is. But, though fundamental, quantum theory is enormously successful without describing the world in its own terms. When properly applied, models of quantum theory offer good advice on the significance and credibility of claims about the world expressed in other terms. This first philosophical lesson of the quantum revolution dissolves the quantum measurement problem. Pragmatist treatments of probability and causation show how quantum theory may be used to explain the non-localized correlations that have been thought to involve "spooky" instantaneous action at a distance. Given environmental decoherence, a pragmatist inferentialist approach to content shows when talk of quantum probabilities is licensed, resolves any residual worries about whether a quantum measurement has a determinate outcome, and solves a dilemma about the ontology of a quantum field theory. This approach to meaning and reference also reveals the nature and limits of objective description in the light of quantum theory. While these pragmatist approaches to probability, causation, explanation and content may be independently motivated by philosophical argument, their successful application here illustrates their practical importance in helping philosophers come to terms with the quantum revolution.

1: Overview: A New Kind of Science
I: Quantum Theory
2: Superposition
3: Entanglement
4: Non-locality
5: Assigning Values and States
6: Measurement
7: Interlude: Some Alternative Interpretations
II: Philosophical Revelations
8: Theories, Models, and Representation
9: Probability and Explanation
10: Causation and Locality
11: Observation and Objectivity
12: Meaning
13: Fundamentality

"The book is primarily intended for those without a background in QT: philosophers, scientists, and laypeople interested in going beyond the metaphors found in popular presentations. ... The Quantum Revolution marks a major advance. The vast majority of quantum interpreters have simply assumed that QT provides a novel description of reality. Those that have recognized other options typically have in mind subjectivist views like QBism. Healey's view provides an important third option: QT provides objectively correct guidance about the world. Healey's view suggests a radical revision to the standard problems and the philosophical import of QT, and such a shake-up is certainly good for progress in the area." - David Glick, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

"Richard Healey is not messing around. His new book on quantum theory promises to overturn most of what we thought we knew about the quantum world (spoiler alert: there is no such thing), and in the process prompt a reappraisal of long-held assumptions about explanation, causation and other core scientific concepts. . . . In its main aims, to communicate this new picture of quantum theory to a wide range of readers and to situate it as part of a coherent pragmatist philosophical package, the book succeeds admirably. . . . There is a great deal of novelty and philosophical interest in the resulting picture, especially in the connections that are drawn with contemporary pragmatism and inferentialism. Healey's book is sure to become a standard point of reference in the interpretive literature." - Alastair Wilson, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews



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