Article ID: CBB001421057

Interpreting Heisenberg Interpreting Quantum States (2013)


The paper investigates possible readings of the later Heisenberg's remarks on the nature of quantum states. It discusses, in particular, whether Heisenberg should be seen as a proponent of the epistemic conception of states -- the view that quantum states are not descriptions of quantum systems but rather reflect the state assigning observers' epistemic relations to these systems. On the one hand, it seems plausible that Heisenberg subscribes to that view, given how he defends the notorious "collapse of the wave function" by relating it to a sudden change in the epistemic situation of the observer registering a measured result. On the other hand, his remarks on quantum probabilities as "potentia" or "objective tendencies" are difficult to reconcile with such a reading. The accounts that are attributed to Heisenberg by the different possible readings considered are subjected to closer scrutiny; at the same time, their respective virtues and problems are discussed.

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Authors & Contributors
Camilleri, Kristian
Rédei, Miklós
Stöltzner, Michael
Crull, Elise
Bacciagaluppi, Guido
Regt, Henk W. de
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Journal of Dialectics of Nature
Perspectives on Science
Physics in Perspective
European Physical Journal H
Kluwer Academic
Cambridge University Press
Bellevue Literary Press
Quantum mechanics
Theoretical physics
Probability and statistics
Philosophy of science
Atomic, nuclear, and particle physics
Heisenberg, Werner
Bohr, Niels Henrik David
Von Neumann, John
Schrödinger, Erwin
Einstein, Albert
Neurath, Otto
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, early
Copenhagen (Denmark)

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