Journal Article

The Properties of Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics

Rob Clifton

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 47, issue 3, pages 371-398
Published in print September 1996 | ISSN: 0007-0882
e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/47.3.371
The Properties of Modal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics

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Orthodox quantum mechanics includes the principle that an observable of a system possesses a well-defined value if and only if the presence of that value in the system is certain to be confirmed on measurement. Modal interpretations reject the controversial ‘only if’ half of this principle to secure definite outcomes for quantum measurements that leave the apparatus entangled with the object it has measured. However, using a result that turns on the construction of a Kochen–Specker contradiction, I argue that modal interpretations cannot deliver a metaphysically tenable conception of properties in quantum mechanics unless they also abandon the less controversial ‘if’ half of the orthodox principle.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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