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Collapse Theories

Lewis, Peter J. (2017) Collapse Theories. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The collapse postulate in quantum mechanics is problematic due to the measurement problem. The problem lies not with collapse per se, but with the appeal to measurement; a theory that could underwrite the collapse process without ineliminable reference to measurement would constitute a solution to the measurement problem. This is the strategy pursued by dynamical (or spontaneous) collapse theories. But dynamical collapse theories face a number of challenges. First, they make different empirical predictions from standard quantum mechanics, and hence are potentially empirically refutable. Second, there are difficulties reconciling the dynamical collapse mechanism with special relativity. Third, the post-collapse state is not the same as the post-measurement state of standard quantum mechanics, raising the possibility that dynamical collapse theories do not solve the measurement problem after all. Assuming that these challenges can be met, dynamical collapse theories can lay claim to being serious contenders for the correct description of the quantum world. And the description they provide has a number of interesting consequences. First, it makes indeterminism an irreducible fact about the physical world. It has been argued that this has important consequences for the foundations of statistical mechanics, for free will, and for consciousness. Second, many dynamical collapse theories can be taken to imply that the quantum wave function is fundamental, giving rise to a new kind of vagueness, since a wave can be fuzzy around the edges in a way that a particle cannot. Furthermore, the quantum wave function is defined over a high-dimensional space, not the three-dimensional space of experience, suggesting to some that three-dimensionality is an illusion.


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Item Type: Preprint
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Lewis, Peter J.
Keywords: Dynamical collapse, Spontaneous collapse, GRW, wave function
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Peter J. Lewis
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2020 16:39
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2020 16:39
Item ID: 16998
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Date: 6 November 2017
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16998

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