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Parts and Wholes

Parts and Wholes

(p.165) Chapter 8 Parts and Wholes
Quantum Ontology
Peter J. Lewis
Oxford University Press

Quantum mechanics is often said to entail holism—that wholes are more than just the sum of their parts—and hence violate Humean supervenience. Certainly an entangled state cannot readily be interpreted in terms of the properties of the individual particles involved. But there is no clear general argument from quantum mechanics to holism. Still, each of the three major interpretations of quantum mechanics—Bohm, GRW, and many worlds—embodies some form of holism. One might try to rescue Humean supervenience by moving to high-dimensional representation of physical systems, or by constructing a theory with backward-in-time causation, but it is unclear if such strategies will succeed. If holism is accepted, some argue further that there are no individuals at the fundamental physical level: Either relations are fundamental, or the whole universe is fundamental. The arguments for these positions are assessed and found to be wanting.

Keywords:   quantum mechanics, holism, Humean supervenience, Bohm, GRW, many worlds, individuals, relations

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