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Observability, Unobservability and the Copenhagen Interpretation in Dirac's Methodology of Physics

Oldofredi, Andrea and Esfeld, Michael (2019) Observability, Unobservability and the Copenhagen Interpretation in Dirac's Methodology of Physics. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Paul A. M. Dirac has been undoubtedly one of the central figures of the last century physics, contributing in several and remarkable ways to the development of Quantum Mechanics (QM); he was also at the centre of an active community of physicists, with whom he had extensive interactions and correspondence. In particular, the British physicist was in close contact with Bohr, Heisenberg and Pauli. For this reason, among others, Dirac is generally considered a supporter of the Copenhagen interpretation of QM. Similarly, he was considered a physicist sympathetic with the positivistic attitude which shaped the development of quantum theory in the twenties. Against this background, the aim of the present essay is twofold: on the one hand, we will argue that, analyzing specific examples taken from Dirac's published works, he can neither be considered a positivist nor a physicist methodologically guided by the observability doctrine. On the other hand, we will try to disentangle Dirac's figure from the mentioned Copenhagen interpretation, since in his long career he employed remarkably different - and often contradicting - methodological principles and philosophical perspectives with respect to those followed by the supporters of that interpretation.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Oldofredi, AndreaAndrea.Oldofredi@unil.ch
Esfeld, MichaelMichael-Andreas.Esfeld@unil.ch
Keywords: Dirac; Observability; Copenhagen Interpretation; Methodology; Dirac Equation; Ether;
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Dr. Andrea Oldofredi
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2019 02:04
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 02:04
Item ID: 16618
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: 6 November 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16618

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