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Life in configuration space

Lewis, Peter J. (2003) Life in configuration space. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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This paper investigates the tenability of wavefunction realism, according to which the quantum mechanical wavefunction is not just a convenient predictive tool, but is a real entity figuring in physical explanations of our measurement results. An apparent difficulty with this position is that the wavefunction exists in a many-dimensional configuration space, whereas the world appears to us to be three-dimensional. I consider the arguments that have been given for and against the tenability of wavefunction realism, and note that both the proponents and opponents assume that quantum mechanical configuration space is many-dimensional in exactly the same sense in which classical space is three-dimensional. I argue that this assumption is mistaken, and that configuration space can be taken as three-dimensional in a relevant sense. I conclude that wavefunction realism is far less problematic than it has been taken to be.

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Lewis, Peter J.
Additional Information: REFERENCES: Albert, David Z. (1992), Quantum Mechanics and Experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Albert, David Z. (1996), “Elementary Quantum Metaphysics” in J. Cushing, A. Fine and S. Goldstein (eds.), Bohmian Mechanics and Quantum Theory: An Appraisal. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 277–284. Arntzenius, Frank (2003), “Is quantum mechanics pointless?”, Philosophy of Science, forthcoming. Bell, John S. (1987), Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bohm, David (1952), “A suggested interpretation of quantum theory in terms of ‘hidden variables’”, Physical Review 85: 166–193. Everett, Hugh (1957), “‘Relative state’ formulation of quantum mechanics”, Reviews of Modern Physics 29: 454–462. Ghirardi, G. C., A. Rimini and T. Weber (1986), “Unified dynamics for microscopic and macroscopic systems”, Physical Review D 34: 470–491. Greene, Brian R. (1999), The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. New York: Norton. Monton, Bradley (2002), “Wavefunction Ontology”, Synthese 130: 265–277. Tegmark, Max (2002), “Measuring spacetime: From the big bang to black holes”, Science 296: 1427–1433. Van Fraassen, Bas C. (1991), Quantum Mechanics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Keywords: Wavefunction ontology Wavefunction realism Configuration space Spatial dimensions
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Peter J. Lewis
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2003
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:11
Item ID: 1272
Public Domain: No
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Date: July 2003

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