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Idealization and formalism in Bohr's approach to quantum theory

Tanona, Scott (2002) Idealization and formalism in Bohr's approach to quantum theory. [Preprint]


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Bohr held that quantum mechanical symbols find meaning only in the context of an experimental setting. Making a measurement requires establishing a correspondence between a property of the quantum object and a property of the measuring system via the introduction of a classical quantity with which the measuring instrument, classically understood, interacts. However, this correspondence is only approximate and involves the use of certain idealizations, and it is the commutation rules that tell us the limitations to this process. In this context I examine the caution by Daumer, et. al. (1996) against taking too seriously the idea of operators as observables. I conclude that Bohr would neither ascribe to such naive realism about operators nor dismiss the formalism as unimportant to the understanding of quantum phenomena, although he would agree with the caution that the properties we can attribute to a system depend on the context of the experiment.

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Item Type: Preprint
Tanona, Scott
Keywords: Bohr, idealization, quantum mechanics
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Scott Tanona
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2002
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2015 15:23
Item ID: 880

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