The Miraculous Consilience of Quantum Mechanics: 

Is a Realist Interpretation Possible?

This page was last edited on 03/21/05 by Malcolm R Forster

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QM Consilience, March 2005.pdf (47 double-spaced pages, 300 KB)


Forthcoming in E. Eells and J. Fetzer (eds.), Probability and Science, Open Court.



I argue for the following conclusions:

1.      Classical quantum mechanics is an ordinary probabilistic theory in the sense that its probabilities obey the standard axioms of probability theory, once their conditional nature is properly understood.

2.      The view that the quantum state vector represents an ‘element of reality’ is equivalent to a standard kind of propensity interpretation of quantum mechanics.

3.      Under both interpretations, relational holism is true:  That is, there are relational properties of quantum systems that do not supervene on (are not determined by) the non-relational properties of the parts.

4.      Under both interpretations, there is a spooky kind of non-local change of state which cannot be detected according to the theory itself (just as the sun’s velocity relative to absolute space cannot be detected according to Newton’s theory of motion).

5.      This ‘distinction without a difference’ can be removed from the theory by adopting what I call a local collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics.  Under this interpretation, relational holism is still true.

6.       If relational holism is true, then quantum mechanical correlations (implied by entangled quantum states) are fundamental entities in their own right, and there is no reason why they cannot be explained in the same way that ordinary non-relational properties are explained.

7.      Therefore, the local collapse interpretation may clear one obstacle from the road towards a realist interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics.

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