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On the Status of Primitive Ontology

Lewis, Peter J. (2017) On the Status of Primitive Ontology. [Preprint]

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Spontaneous collapse theories provide a promising solution to the measurement problem. But they also introduce a number of problems of their own concerning dimensionality, vagueness, and locality. In response to these problems, advocates of collapse theories have proposed various accounts of the primitive ontology of collapse theories—postulated underlying entities governed by the collapse theory and underwriting our observations. The most prominent of these are a mass density distribution over three-dimensional space, and a set of discrete “flash” events at space-time points. My argument here is that these primitive ontologies are redundant, in the sense that the structures exhibited by the primitive ontologies that allow them to solve the problems facing spontaneous collapse theories are also present in the wave function. But redundancy is not nonexistence; indeed, the fact that the relevant structures are already there in the wave function shows that the mass density ontology and the flash ontology exist whether they are explicitly postulated or not. By the same token, there is no need to decide between a wave function ontology, a mass density ontology and a flash ontology.

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Item Type: Preprint
Lewis, Peter
Keywords: Primitive ontology, spontaneous collapse theories, GRW, flash ontology, mass density ontology
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Peter J. Lewis
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2018 02:33
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2018 02:33
Item ID: 14421
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Date: 2 February 2017

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