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Measuring Quantum Superpositions (Or, “It is only the theory which decides what can be observed.”)

de Ronde, Christian (2020) Measuring Quantum Superpositions (Or, “It is only the theory which decides what can be observed.”). [Preprint]

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Abstract

In this work we attempt to confront the orthodox widespread claim present in the foundational literature of Quantum Mechanics (QM) according to which ‘superpositions are never actually observed in the lab’. In order to do so, we begin by providing a critical analysis of the famous measurement problem which, we will argue, was originated by the strict application of the empirical-positivist requirements to subsume the quantum formalism under their specific understanding of ‘theory’. In this context, the ad hoc introduction of the projection postulate (or measurement rule) can be understood as a necessary requirement coming from a naive empiricist standpoint which presupposes that observations are self evident givens of “common sense” experience —independent of metaphysical (categorical) presuppositions. We then turn our attention to two “non-collapse” interpretations of QM —namely, modal and many worlds— which even though deny that the “collapse” is a real physical process anyhow retain the measurement rule as a necessary element of the theory. In contraposition, following Einstein’s claim according to which “it is only the theory which decides what can be observed”, we propose a return to the realist representational understanding of ‘physical theories’ in which ‘observation’ is considered as derived from theoretical presuppositions. It is from this standpoint that we discuss a new non-classical conceptual representation which allows us to understand quantum phenomena in an intuitive (anschaulicht) manner. Leaving behind the projection postulate, we discuss the general physical conditions for measuring and observing quantum superpositions.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
de Ronde, Christiancderonde@gmail.com
Keywords: Quantum superpositions, measurement problem, observation, representation.
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Christian de Ronde
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2020 03:10
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2020 03:10
Item ID: 17424
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Date: 2 July 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17424

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