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Interpreting Quantum TheoryIn Search of a Viable Epistemic Account

Interpreting Quantum Theory: In Search of a Viable Epistemic Account [A quantum state, via the Born Rule, assigns probabilities to the different possible values of observables of a quantum system. It is only in virtue of these probabilities — or, alternatively, expectation values — that quantum mechanics is empirically testable. Since assigning a state to a system means assigning probabilities to the values of observables, it may seem natural to read Peierls’ claim that the state ‘represents our knowledge of the system’ (Peierls [1991], p. 19) as a shorthand for saying that the state represents our knowledge of these probabilities. The latter view is sometimes even straightforwardly identified with the epistemic conception of states, for example by Marchildon, who claims that ‘[i]n the epistemic view [of quantum states], the state vector (or wave function or density matrix) does not represent the objective state of a microscopic system […], but rather our knowledge of the probabilities of outcomes of future measurements’ (Marchildon [2004], p. 1454). However, according to an argument due to Fuchs and endorsed by Timpson,31 the idea that quantum states represent our knowledge about quantum probabilities should not be regarded as the core claim of the epistemic conception of quantum states, simply because, as they argue, this idea is in fact incompatible with the latter.] http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png

Interpreting Quantum TheoryIn Search of a Viable Epistemic Account

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Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Copyright
© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2015
ISBN
978-1-349-49619-8
Pages
61 –74
DOI
10.1057/9781137447159_5
Publisher site
See Chapter on Publisher Site

Abstract

[A quantum state, via the Born Rule, assigns probabilities to the different possible values of observables of a quantum system. It is only in virtue of these probabilities — or, alternatively, expectation values — that quantum mechanics is empirically testable. Since assigning a state to a system means assigning probabilities to the values of observables, it may seem natural to read Peierls’ claim that the state ‘represents our knowledge of the system’ (Peierls [1991], p. 19) as a shorthand for saying that the state represents our knowledge of these probabilities. The latter view is sometimes even straightforwardly identified with the epistemic conception of states, for example by Marchildon, who claims that ‘[i]n the epistemic view [of quantum states], the state vector (or wave function or density matrix) does not represent the objective state of a microscopic system […], but rather our knowledge of the probabilities of outcomes of future measurements’ (Marchildon [2004], p. 1454). However, according to an argument due to Fuchs and endorsed by Timpson,31 the idea that quantum states represent our knowledge about quantum probabilities should not be regarded as the core claim of the epistemic conception of quantum states, simply because, as they argue, this idea is in fact incompatible with the latter.]

Published: Oct 24, 2015

Keywords: Quantum State; Quantum System; State Assignment; Objective Feature; Quantum Probability

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