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Relational Quantum Mechanics and the Determinacy Problem

Brown, Matthew (2007) Relational Quantum Mechanics and the Determinacy Problem. In: [2007] 15th UK and European Meeting on the Foundations of Physics (Leeds, 29-31 March 2007).

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    Abstract

    Quantum mechanics describes certain systems as being in superpositions of their properties, yet every measurement on every system that we are able to perform yields a determinate result. The "orthodox" formulation of the theory builds this in by including a postulate that such superpositions "collapse" at the time of measurement. Carlo Rovelli's relational interpretation of quantum mechanics holds that a system's states or the values of its physical quantites as normally conceived only exist relative to a cut between a system and an observer or measuring instrument. Furthermore, on Rovelli's account, the appearance of determinate observations from pure quantum superpositions happens only relative to the interaction of the system and observer. Jeffrey Barrett has pointed out that certain relational interpretations suffer from what we might call the "determinacy problem," but the interpretations that Barrett considers make facts relative to branches of the universal wave function rather than to system/observer cuts. Thus, Barrett misclassifies Rovelli's interpretation, which differs from the interpretations that Barrett explicitly worries about and has the resources to escape his particular criticisms. Rovelli's interpretation still leaves us with a paradox having to do with the determinacy of measurement outcomes, which can be accepted only if we are willing to give up on certain elements of the "absolute" view of the world.


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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: Rovelli - Barrett - Mermin - Relational Interpretation
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
    Conferences and Volumes: [2007] 15th UK and European Meeting on the Foundations of Physics (Leeds, 29-31 March 2007)
    Depositing User: Matthew J. Brown
    Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2007
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:15
    Item ID: 3234
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/3234

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