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On the Classification between ψ−Ontic and ψ−Epistemic Ontological Models

Oldofredi, Andrea and López, Cristian (2020) On the Classification between ψ−Ontic and ψ−Epistemic Ontological Models. [Preprint]


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Harrigan and Spekkens (2010) provided a categorization of quantum ontological models classifying them as $\psi-$ontic or $\psi-$epistemic if the quantum state $\psi$ describes respectively either a physical reality or mere observers' knowledge. Moreover, they claimed that Einstein - who was a supporter of the statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics - endorsed an epistemic view of $\psi$. In this essay we critically assess such a classification and some of its consequences by proposing a two-fold argumentation. Firstly, we show that Harrigan and Spekkens' categorization implicitly assumes that a complete description of a quantum system (its ontic state, $\lambda$) only concerns single, individual systems instantiating absolute, intrinsic properties. Secondly, we argue that such assumptions conflict with some current interpretations of quantum mechanics, which employ different ontic states as a complete description of quantum systems. In particular, we will show that, since in the statistical interpretation ontic states describe ensembles rather than individuals, such a view cannot be considered $\psi-$epistemic. As a consequence, the authors misinterpreted Einstein's view concerning the nature of the quantum state. Next, we will focus on Relational Quantum Mechanics and Perspectival Quantum Mechanics, which in virtue of their relational and perspectival metaphysics employ ontic states $\lambda$ dealing with relational properties. We conclude that Harrigan and Spekkens' categorization is too narrow and entails an inadequate classification of the mentioned interpretations of quantum theory. Hence, any satisfactory classification of quantum ontological models ought to take into account the variations of $\lambda$ across different interpretations of quantum mechanics.

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Item Type: Preprint
Keywords: Completeness; Incompleteness; Epistemic Quantum States; Statistical Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics; Perspectival Quantum Mechanics; Relational Quantum Mechanics
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Dr. Andrea Oldofredi
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2020 01:13
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2020 01:13
Item ID: 18041
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Date: 2020

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