Quantum Information Processing, Vol. 5, No. 4, August 2006 (© 2006)
Dialogue Abner Shimony–Shimon Malin*
and Shimon Malin
Received December 7, 2005; accepted December 28, 2005; Published online May 18, 2006
Malin proposes a solution to some of the conceptual problems of the foundations
of quantum mechanics within the framework of Alfred North Whitehead’s “Philos-
ophy of Organism”. Standard quantum dynamics, governed by the time-dependent
odinger equation, does not provide for the reduction of superpositions of physi-
cal states and hence does not account for occurrence of observational data. If con-
sciousness is invoked to explain the results of measurements, it would appear that
quantum mechanics is given an anthropocentric interpretation. Reduction of super-
positions is achieved without anthropocentrism, according to Malin, by accepting
Whitehead’s ontology of “actual occasions”, which are protomental entities inde-
pendent of and presumably antedating human beings. Furthermore, Whitehead’s
philosophy has the great virtue of offering a plausible solution to the profound prob-
lem of relating minds to material systems. Shimony is sympathetic to Whitehead’s
world view, but with the reservation that it leaves an immense unexplained and unex-
plored gap between the conjectured “experience” of actual occasions and the high
level experience of the human mind.
KEY WORDS: Process philosophy; Whitehead’s philosophy; quantum physics.
PACS: 01.70.+w; 03.65.-w, 03.65.Ud.
1. ABNER SHIMONY: THE QUANTUM STATE AS A NETWORK
Much insight into the nature of the quantum state can be obtained by
comparing the treatment of probabilities in quantum mechanics with those
of classical statistical mechanics.
Probabilities in these two theoretical disciplines have the following three
features in common: (a) objectivity as contrasted with the subjectivity of
personal probability; (b) the derivation of probabilities from the constitution
QUPON/QIPC Special Issue
Departments of Philosophy and Physics, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Colgate University, Hamilton, 13346, NY, USA.
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1570-0755/06/0800-0261/0 © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.