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Interpreting Quantum Theories$
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Laura Ruetsche

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199535408

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199535408.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 January 2022

A Matter of Degree

A Matter of Degree

Making Sense of Phase Structure

(p.261) 12 A Matter of Degree
Interpreting Quantum Theories

Laura Ruetsche

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents three reasons to take quantum statistical mechanics to the thermodynamic limit, where the number of systems considered becomes infinite, in the form of three phenomena that can't be modeled short of the thermodynamic limit: ergodicity, phase structure, and broken symmetry. Focusing on phase structure, exemplified by ferromagnetism, the chapter documents a promising model of the phenomenon that makes use of unitarily inequivalent representations in a way rigid interpretations of QM, such as Hilbert Space Conservatism and Algebraic Imperialism, can't endorse. Taking a virtue of interpretation to be its capacity to sustain the explanatory aspirations of the theory interpreted, the chapter scores this as a strike against rigid interpretations.

Keywords:   quantum statistical mechanics, thermodynamic limit, ferromagnetism, ergodicity, phase structure, equilibrium, broken symmetry, unitary inequivalence, macro-observable, universality

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