Journal Article

Can Classical Structures Explain Quantum Phenomena?

Alisa Bokulich

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 59, issue 2, pages 217-235
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2008 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axn004
Can Classical Structures Explain Quantum Phenomena?

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In semiclassical mechanics one finds explanations of quantum phenomena that appeal to classical structures. These explanations are prima facie problematic insofar as the classical structures they appeal to do not exist. Here I defend the view that fictional structures can be genuinely explanatory by introducing a model-based account of scientific explanation. Applying this framework to the semiclassical phenomenon of wavefunction scarring, I argue that not only can the fictional classical trajectories explain certain aspects of this quantum phenomenon, but also that an explanation that does not make reference to these classical structures is, in a certain sense, deficient.

Introduction

The Case of Wavefunction Scarring

Model Explanations, or How Fictional Structures Can Explain

Putting Understanding Back into Explanation

Journal Article.  7391 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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