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Are we living in a quantum world? Bohr and quantum fundamentalism

Zinkernagel, Henrik (2015) Are we living in a quantum world? Bohr and quantum fundamentalism. One hundred years of the Bohr atom: Proceedings from a conference (Edited by F. Aaserud and H. Kragh). Scientia Danica. Series M: Mathematica et physica, vol. 1., 2015. pp. 419-434. ISSN 1904-5514

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Abstract

The spectacular successes of quantum physics have made it a commonplace to assert that we live in a quantum world. This idea seems to imply a kind of “quantum fundamentalism” according to which everything in the universe (if not the universe as a whole) is fundamentally of a quantum nature and ultimately describable in quantum-mechanical terms. Bohr’s conception of quantum mechanics has traditionally been seen as opposed to such a view, not least because of his insistence on the necessity of the concepts of classical physics in the account of quantum phenomena. Recently, however, a consensus seems to be emerging among careful commentators on Bohr to the effect that he, after all, did subscribe to some version of quantum fundamentalism. Against this consensus, and by re-examining the historical record, I will defend a variant of the traditional reading of Bohr in which (1) the answer to what an object is (quantum or classical) depends on the experimental context; and (2) in principle, any physical system can be treated quantum-mechanically but not all systems can be treated that way at the same time.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Zinkernagel, Henrikzink@ugr.es
Additional Information: This is an electronic version (with updated references) of an article published in the proceedings of the conference "One Hundred Years of the Bohr Atom", held in Copenhagen, June 2013.
Keywords: Measurement problem; classical-quantum relation; reductionism
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Henrik Zinkernagel
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2015 15:21
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2015 15:21
Item ID: 11785
Journal or Publication Title: One hundred years of the Bohr atom: Proceedings from a conference (Edited by F. Aaserud and H. Kragh). Scientia Danica. Series M: Mathematica et physica, vol. 1., 2015
Publisher: Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: 2015
Page Range: pp. 419-434
ISSN: 1904-5514
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11785

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