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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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Re: Interpreting Physical Theories

Re: Interpreting Physical Theories

(p.340) 15 Re: Interpreting Physical Theories
Interpreting Quantum Theories

Laura Ruetsche

Oxford University Press

This chapter attempts to bring the foregoing foundational discussion of QM to bear on issues in the philosophy of science more generally construed. Taking one lesson of the foregoing foundational discussions to be that no single interpretation of QM is adequate to the myriad explanatory and developmental demands faced by theories of QM, the chapter draws morals for scientific realism and related issues. One moral is that there might be no single structure or interpretation belief in which is warranted by the many successes of a physical theory. Another is that a physical theory might be best understood, not in terms of a unique set of physically possible worlds specified antecedently to the messy business of applying that theory, but in terms of many different such sets, indexed to contexts of application. A third moral is that semantic indecision of the sort just described could be an empirical virtue, insofar as semantically indecisive theories are more flexibly responsive to diverse sets of empirical demands.

Keywords:   scientific realism, structural realism, interpretation, physical law, physical possibility, quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics

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