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::: center home >> events >> lunchtime >> 2005-06 >> abstracts

Tuesday, 14 March 2006
Finding Ordinary Objects
in the World of Quantum Mechanics

Cian Dorr, University of Pittsburgh, Dept. of Philosophy
12:05 pm,
817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract:  It is widely held that a world exhaustively characterized by a quantum-mechanical wavefunction evolving in accordance with Schrödinger's equation could not contain ordinary objects—chairs, people, measurement apparatuses—like the ones we take ourselves to be familiar with.  This opinion seems to be based on the assumption that ordinary objects, if they exist at such a world, must be aggregates of particles, or at least behave like them in certain respects.  But this assumption is unfounded: a proper understanding of the fundamental ontology of quantum mechanics suggests many other possible candidates for identification with the ordinary objects of our acquaintance.  In fact, I claim, a world of that sort would contain an immense multiplicity of ordinary objects, some of which could very well be people with evidence like ours.  So far I am in agreement with some followers of Everett: but the view I develop is also heavily indebted to Bohm.  I argue that each ordinary object is associated with just one of the trajectories through configuration space which, for Bohmians, represent the different physically possible situations consistent with all the facts about the wavefunction.  This leads to an account of measurement that is just like Bohm's, except that our knowledge and ignorance of the "hidden" variables is knowledge and ignorance of our location in the world, rather than of what the world is like.

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Revised 3/6/08 - Copyright 2006