PhilSci Archive

Losing Sight of the Forest for the Ψ: Beyond the Wavefunction Hegemony

Bokulich, Alisa (2019) Losing Sight of the Forest for the Ψ: Beyond the Wavefunction Hegemony. [Preprint]

[img]
Preview
Text
Bokulich- Forest for the Ψ-Preprint.pdf

Download (5MB) | Preview

Abstract

Traditionally Ψ is used to stand in for both the mathematical wavefunction (the representation) and the quantum state (the thing in the world). This elision has been elevated to a metaphysical thesis by advocates of the view known as wavefunction realism. My aim in this paper is to challenge the hegemony of the wavefunction by calling attention to a little-known formulation of quantum theory that does not make use of the wavefunction in representing the quantum state. This approach, called Lagrangian quantum hydrodynamics (LQH), is not an approximation scheme, but rather a full alternative formulation of quantum theory. I argue that a careful consideration of alternative formalisms is an essential part of any realist project that attempts to read the ontology of a theory off of the mathematical formalism. In particular, I show that LQH undercuts the central presumption of wavefunction realism and falsifies the claim that one must represent the many-body quantum state as living in a 3n-dimensional configuration space. I conclude by briefly sketching three different realist approaches one could take toward LQH, and argue that both models of the quantum state should be admitted. When exploring quantum realism, regaining sight of the proverbial forest of quantum representations beyond the Ψ is just the first step.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Bokulich, Alisaabokulic@bu.edu
Additional Information: Forthcoming in S. French and J. Saatsi (eds.) Scientific Realism and the Quantum. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Keywords: quantum mechanics, realism, hydrodynamics, wavefunction
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Alisa Bokulich
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2019 05:38
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2019 05:38
Item ID: 15666
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 25 January 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15666

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item