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Against the field ontology of quantum mechanics

Gao, Shan (2018) Against the field ontology of quantum mechanics. [Preprint]

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Abstract

It has been widely thought that the ontology of quantum mechanics is real, physical fields. In this paper, I will present a new argument against the field ontology of quantum mechanics by analyzing one-body systems such as an electron. First, I argue that if the physical entity described by the wave function of an electron is a field, then this field is massive and charged. Next, I argue that if a field is massive and charged, then any two parts of the field in space will have gravitational and electromagnetic interactions, while the existence of such self-interactions for an electron contradicts quantum mechanics and experimental observations. This poses a serious difficulty for the field ontology of quantum mechanics. Third, I argue that a particle ontological interpretation of the wave function may avoid the difficulty by providing a plausible explanation of the non-existence of self-interactions. According to this explanation, the wave function of an electron is a description of the state of the random motion of the electron as a particle, and in particular, the modulus squared of the wave function gives the probability density that the electron appears in every possible position in space. Finally, I answer a major objection to the explanation of the non-existence of self-interactions in terms of particle ontology.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Gao, Shansgao7319@uni.sydney.edu.au
Keywords: wave function; field ontology; particle ontology; mass and charge distributions; self-interaction;
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Prof. Shan Gao
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2018 03:00
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2018 03:00
Item ID: 15476
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Date: 19 December 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15476

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