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Quantum Engineering Grenoble Online Reading Group || Quantum Foundations - Peter Lewis

on the March 26, 2021

at 3-5pm
The Physics-Philosophy Interface and the Chair of Excellence in Philosophy of Quantum Physics at the QuEnG are pleased to announce the first meeting of the 2021 cycle of seminars in 'Foundations of Quantum Mechanics'---see below for further information about these seminars.
This Friday, March 26th, at 3-5pm (CET), Peter Lewis (Dartmouth College) will be giving a talk entitled 'What is the Wave Function?'. Here's the abstract:

One way of formulating the problem of interpreting quantum mechanics is to ask what the quantum wave function (or quantum state) represents. A bewildering variety of answers have been proposed in the literature: it’s a field, it’s a law, it’s a property, it’s a set of possible worlds, it’s a prescriptive device… In this talk I consider how we might go about answering this question. I first argue that neither the history of quantum mechanics nor the mathematical structure of the theory shed much light on the issue. A more promising approach is a pragmatic or functionalist one: to infer the meaning of the wave function from the way it is used by physicists. This approach suggests a broadly nomological role: the wave function is more like a law than a thing. But then what is the underlying ontology that is governed by the law? And how does the ascription of properties to this ontology avoid no-go theorems such as Bell’s? I argue that the former question can be put off to some extent: quantum mechanics “borrows” its ontology from other theories. The latter question, however, requires an answer, and I suggest that the most promising direction is to regard the wave function as an atemporal global constraint on the statistical distribution of properties.

The meeting will be held online on the platform Zoom. If you wish to join, please contact me (Cristian Mariani; cristian.mariani@neel.cnrs.fr) for further information.

This reading group is a new QuEnG initiative that starts in February 2020, from an idea of the PhDs and Postdocs interested in quantum foundations. Its aim is to bring together philosophers of science and physicists to discuss topics in the foundations of quantum mechanics. For the year 2021, the selected topic is Philosophical Issues in Quantum Mechanics. Due to the Covid-19 health crisis, the reading group will be held online, on a weekly basis. A list of our past guests includes: Alexia Auffeves, Angelo Bassi, Jean Bricmont, Craig Callender, Mauro D’Ariano, Aurelien Drezet, Nicolas Gisin, Philippe Grangier, Tim Maudlin, Carlo Rovelli, Paul Tappenden, Giuliano Torrengo, and Lev Vaidman. Here you can find some of the recorded meetings.
Published on March 22, 2021

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