Journal Article

The Price of Insisting that Quantum Mechanics is Complete

P. D. Magnus

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 55, issue 2, pages 257-267
Published in print June 2004 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
The Price of Insisting that Quantum Mechanics is Complete

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The Bare Theory was offered by David Albert as a way of standing by the completeness of quantum mechanics in the face of the measurement problem. This paper surveys objections to the Bare Theory that recur in the literature: what will here be called the oddity objection, the coherence objection, and the context-of-the-universe objection. Critics usually take the Bare Theory to have unacceptably bizarre consequences, but to be free from internal contradiction. Bizarre consequences need not be decisive against the Bare Theory, but a further objection—dubbed here the calibration objection—has been underestimated. This paper argues that the Bare Theory is not only odd but also inconsistent. We can imagine a successor to the Bare Theory—the Stripped Theory—which avoids the objections and fulfills the original promise of the Bare Theory, but at the cost of amplifying the bizarre consequences. The Stripped Theory is either a stunning development in our understanding of the world or a reductio disproving the completeness of quantum mechanics.

The Bare Theory

The usual objections

The calibration objection

Beyond the Bare Theory

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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