Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Paper argues QM is about determinables

I posted on the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics. Now David Albert wrote a paper with his own novel view:
I distinguish between two conceptually different kinds of physical space: a space of ordinary material bodies, which is the space of points at which I could imaginably place (say) the tip of my finger, or the center of a billiard-ball, and a space of elementary physical determinables, which is the smallest space of points such that stipulating what is happening at each one of those points, at every time, amounts to an exhaustive physical history of the universe. In all classical physical theories, these two spaces happen to coincide – and what we mean by calling a theory “classical”, and all we mean by calling a theory “classical”, is (I will argue) precisely that these two spaces coincide. But once the distinction between these two spaces in on the table, it becomes clear that there is no logical or conceptual reason why they must coincide – and it turns out (and this is the main topic of the present paper) that a very simple way of pulling them apart from one another gives us quantum mechanics.
He presents this as how to teach quantum mechanics, as he says it is the essence of the quantum mysteries.

To explain his artificial examples, he has to use non-local Hamiltonians, and refer to kooky interpretations like many-worlds and Bohmian pilot waves. His whole idea of determinables is based on thinking of particles as existing as points in space.

I don't think his approach helps to understand quantum mechanics at all. I am just posting this as another opinion of how quantum mechanics differs from classical mechanics.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Roger, you do have some [reading] patience, and what also seems like, an additional ability to condense down more than just one bit of a nonsense...

    No, you don't have to perform such acts.

    [God help these present-day American philosophers...]