Epistemology and Probability: Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and the Nature of Quantum-Theoretical Thinking

Overview

Epistemology and Probability aims to contribute to our understanding of quantum mechanics and its extraordinary impact by reconsidering the nature of the relationships between epistemology and probability in quantum theory. The book brings together the thought of the three figures most responsible for the rise of quantum mechanics-Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and Bohr-in order to develop a deeper sense of the physical, mathematical, and philosophical workings of quantum-theoretical thinking. Reciprocally, a special ...

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Overview

Epistemology and Probability aims to contribute to our understanding of quantum mechanics and its extraordinary impact by reconsidering the nature of the relationships between epistemology and probability in quantum theory. The book brings together the thought of the three figures most responsible for the rise of quantum mechanics-Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and Bohr-in order to develop a deeper sense of the physical, mathematical, and philosophical workings of quantum-theoretical thinking. Reciprocally, a special emphasis on probability allows the book to gain new insights into the thought of these figures. The book reconsiders, from this, perspective, the Bohr-Einstein debate on the epistemology of quantum physics. In particular, it offers a new treatment of the famous experiment of Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen (EPR), and of the Bohr-Einstein exchange concerning it. It also addresses the relevant aspects of quantum information theory and considers the implications of the epistemology of quantum mechanics for higher-level quantum theories, such as quantum field theory and string theory. One of the main contributions of the book is an analysis of the role of mathematics in quantum theory and in the thinking of Bohr, Heisenberg, and Schrödinger. Most especially, the book examines the new (vis-à-vis classical physics and relativity) relationship between mathematics and physics introduced by Heisenberg in the course of his discovery of quantum mechanics.

Although Epistemology and Probability is aimed at physicists, philosophers and historians of science, and graduate and advanced undergraduate students in these fields, it is also written with a broader audience inmind and is accessible to readers unfamiliar with the higher-level mathematics used in quantum theory.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

From the reviews:

“Plotnitsky (theory and cultural studies, Purdue Univ.) analyzes the discussions and disagreements among the principals (mentioned in the title), and offers his insightful comments on the questions. … The discussions on probability and epistemology remind readers of 18th-century debates on the topic in which d’Alembert participated. This book should interest anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the epistemology of quantum mechanics, especially the issues thrashed out in the early phases. … Summing Up: Highly recommended. Academic libraries serving graduate students, researchers, and faculty.” (V. V. Raman, Choice, Vol. 47 (10), June, 2010)

“This is an exposition of what the author calls ‘non-classical epistemology’ in close relationship with the emergence and development of quantum mechanics. … Plotnitsky unfolds a nuanced presentation of the so-called ‘Copenhagen spirit’ or, more precisely, of the ideas of his central hero, Niels Bohr, taken to their logical conclusion. … Plotnitsky’s narrative makes fascinating reading, and not only for those who are sympathetic to his views. … the book represents a challenge and motivation for the opponents of such views, particularly scientific realists.” (Vassilis Sakellariou, Metascience, Vol. 21, 2012)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387853345
  • Publisher: Springer-Verlag New York, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Pages: 402

Table of Contents

1 Introduction - Epistemology and Probability in Quantum Theory: Physics, Mathematics, and Philosophy 1

2 Quantum Phenomena and the Double-Slit Experiment 45

3 Heisenberg's Revolutions: New Kinematics, New Mathematics, and New Philosophy 77

4 From Geometry to Algebra in Physics, with Heisenberg 115

5 Schrodinger's Waves: Propagation and Probability 137

6 Bohr's Como Argument: Complementarity and the Problem of Causality 179

7 From Como to Copenhagen: Renunciations 219

8 Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered both Complete and Local? 237

9 Essential Ambiguity and Essential Influence: Reading Bohr's Reply to EPR 279

10 Mysteries Without Mysticism, Correlations Without Correlata, Epistemology Without Ontology, and Probability Without Causality 313

11 Conclusion: "The Mere Touch of Cold Philosophy" 353

References 369

Name Index 379

Subject Index 383

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