Interpreting Quantum Theories

Interpreting Quantum Theories

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Traditionally, philosophers of quantum mechanics have addressed exceedingly simple systems: a pair of electrons in an entangled state, or an atom and a cat in Dr. Schroedinger's diabolical device. But recently, much more complicated systems, such as quantum fields and the infinite systems at the thermodynamic limit of quantum statistical mechanics, have attracted, and repaid, philosophical attention. Interpreting Quantum Theories has three entangled
aims. The first is to guide those familiar with the philosophy of ordinary QM into the philosophy of 'QM infinity', by presenting accessible introductions to relevant technical notions and the foundational questions they frame. The second aim is to develop and defend answers to some of those questions. Does quantum
field theory demand or deserve a particle ontology? How (if at all) are different states of broken symmetry different? And what is the proper role of idealizations in working physics? The third aim is to highlight ties between the foundational investigation of QM infinity and philosophy more broadly construed, in particular by using the interpretive problems discussed to motivate new ways to think about the nature of physical possibility and the problem of scientific realism.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 398 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 22mm | 476g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0199681066
  • 9780199681068
  • 1,085,457

Table of contents

Contents ; Preface ; Abbreviations and Symbols ; 1. Exegesis Saves: Interpreting Physical Theories ; 2. Quantizing ; 3. Beyond the Stone-von Neumann Theorem ; 4. Representation Without Taxation ; 5. Axioms for Quantum Theories ; 6. Interpreting Quantum Theories: Some Options ; 7. Extraordinary QM ; 8. Interpreting Extraordinary QM ; 9. Is Particle Physics Particle Physics? ; 10. Particles and the Void ; 11. Phenomenological Particle Notions ; 12. A Matter of Degree: Making Sense of Phase Structure ; 13. Interlude: Symmetry Breaking in QSM ; 14. Broken Symmetry and Physicists' QFT ; 15. Morals? ; References
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Review quote

Each of these chapters by itself makes an important contribution to philosophy of physics; but amazingly, Ruetsche ties them each to the overarching argument against pristine interpretations and for a modification of traditional scientific realism. ... It is a book that repays close study and which should be discussed extensively by philosophers in the years to come. * Hans Halvorson, Metascience * All in all, the book is a remarkable achievement: at one and the same time a cohesive account of a major body of work by the author and others, an accessible and philosophically sensitive introduction to the field, a powerful defence of a largely novel position in philosophy of science through careful attention to scientific details, and an impressive advertisement for the value of that strategy in philosophy of science that places a high premium on mathematical
rigour, without losing focus on the philosophical issues at hand. It is not the only strategy available but, in Reutsches hands at least, it is remarkably effective. * David Wallace, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science * Ruetsche's book is set apart from many of the recent books of the philosophy of physics, not only in its engagement with the quantum theory of infinite systems (including quantum field theory), but also in its explicit engagement with questions from general philosophy of science... It is a book that repays close study and which should be discussed extensively by philosophers in the years to come. * Metascience *
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About Laura Ruetsche

Laura Ruetsche is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan.
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