The uninvited guest: 'local realism' and the Bell theorem.
According to a wrong interpretation of the Bell theorem, it has been repeatedly claimed in recent times that we are forced by experiments to drop any possible form of realism in the foundations of quantum mechanics. In this paper I defend the simple thesis according to which the above claim cannot be consistently supported: the Bell theorem does not concern realism, and realism per se cannot be refuted in itself by any quantum experiment. As a consequence, realism in quantum mechanics is not something that can be simply explained away once and for all on the basis of experiments, but rather something that must be conceptually characterized and discussed in terms of its foundational virtues and vices. To assess it, we cannot rely on experimentation but rather on philosophical discussion: realism is not a phlogiston-like notion, despite the efforts of the contemporary quantum orthodoxy to conceive it in Russellian terms as the relics of a bygone age.
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