Le contenu de cette page n’est pas disponible en français. Veuillez nous en excuser.
 

What would a consistent instrumentalism about quantum mechanics be? Or, why Wigner's friendly after all.

Recording Details

Speaker(s): 
Scientific Areas: 
Collection/Series: 
PIRSA Number: 
09090029

Abstract

Instrumentalism about the quantum state is the view that this mathematical object does not serve to represent a component of (non-directly observable) reality, but is rather a device solely for making predictions about the results of experiments. One honest way to be such an instrumentalist is a) to take an ensemble view (= frequentism about quantum probabilities), whereby the state represents predictions for measurement results on ensembles of systems, but not individual systems and b) to assign some specific level for the quantum/classical cut. But what happens if one drops (b), or (a), or both, as some have been inclined to? Can one achieve a consistent view then? A major worry is illustrated by the Wigner's friend scenario: it looks as if it should make a measurable difference where one puts the cut, so how can it be consistent to slide it around (as, e.g., Bohr was wont to)? I'll discuss two main cases: that of Asher Peres' book, which adopts (a) but drops (b); and that of the quantum Bayesians Caves, Fuchs and Shack, which drops both. A view of Peres' sort can I, think, be made consistent, though may look a little strained; the quantum Bayesians' can too, though there are some subtleties (which I shall discuss) about how one should handle Wigner's friend.