Interpreting Quantum Theories

Paperback | June 17, 2013

byLaura Ruetsche

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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. Schrodinger's diabolical device. But recently, much more complicated systems, such as quantum fields and the infinite systems atthe 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 todevelop 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 thefoundational 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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From the Publisher

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. Schrodinger's diabolical device. But recently, much more complicated systems, such as quantum fields and the infinite systems atthe thermodynamic limit of quantum statistical...

Laura Ruetsche is Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair at the University of Michigan.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:398 pagesPublished:June 17, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199681066

ISBN - 13:9780199681068

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Table of Contents

ContentsPrefaceAbbreviations and Symbols1. Exegesis Saves: Interpreting Physical Theories2. Quantizing3. Beyond the Stone-von Neumann Theorem4. Representation Without Taxation5. Axioms for Quantum Theories6. Interpreting Quantum Theories: Some Options7. Extraordinary QM8. Interpreting Extraordinary QM9. Is Particle Physics Particle Physics?10. Particles and the Void11. Phenomenological Particle Notions12. A Matter of Degree: Making Sense of Phase Structure13. Interlude: Symmetry Breaking in QSM14. Broken Symmetry and Physicists' QFT15. Morals?References

Editorial Reviews

"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 abook that repays close study and which should be discussed extensively by philosophers in the years to come." --Metascience