Thesis ID: CBB001560566

Philosophy and Physics: Action-at-a-Distance and Locality (2004)


Bai, Tongdong (Author)

Boston University
Stachel, John

Publication Date: 2004
Edition Details: Advisor: Stachel, John
Physical Details: 397 pp.
Language: English

This dissertation is an attempt to defend two founders of quantum theories, Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli, against various anti-realist readings. These readings claim that Bohr's and Pauli's interpretations of quantum mechanics are based on a denial of the reality of the external world, and that their debates with Albert Einstein are over realism. But I argue that the differences between their views and Einstein's are neither about the reality of the external world, nor about the reality of theoretical entities in general. Rather, the differences are about the reality of this or that particular theoretical entity and the viability of this or that particular idea of physics. Although in 1972 Clifford Hooker gave an adequate and then-comprehensive discussion of Bohr's ideas countering anti-realist readings, his work has been forgotten by a new generation of interpreters such as Arthur Fine and Mara Beller who read anti-realism into Bohr's ideas. One aim of this dissertation is to revive Hooker's defense of Bohr and to counter such misreadings. A second contribution this dissertation makes consists in an elaboration of Pauli's views. Pauli wrote extensively on many philosophical issues, and made important contributions to the debates between Einstein, Bohr and himself. However, his views are unfairly ignored by most philosophers of quantum mechanics, and when considered, are at best quickly dismissed as anti-realist. In my dissertation, I discuss Pauli's rich ideas on physics and philosophy and show that Pauli is not an anti-realist. In particular, Bohr's and Pauli's views on a problem introduced in a paper by Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen (the EPR paper) are discussed in detail. The close examination of Bohr's and Pauli's views also shows that there are significant differences between them, suggesting the inadequacy of the generic term the Copenhagen school, often used to refer indiscriminately to their views. Through my studies of Bohr's and Pauli's ideas, I hope to show the inadequacy of using metaphysical doctrines such as realism and anti- realism to gain either a full understanding of general problems in physics, or an understanding of the ideas of these working physicists in particular.


Description “This dissertation is an attempt to defend two founders of quantum theories, Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli, against various anti-realist readings.” (from the abstract) Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 64 (2004): 2921. UMI order no. 3101066.

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Authors & Contributors
Martinez, Jean-Philippe
Burwell, Jennifer
Greco, Pietro
Tanona, Scott Daniel
Shomar, Towfic
Shimek, Suzanne Elizabeth
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Journal for General Philosophy of Science
Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Acta Baltica historiae et philosophiae scientiarum
Indiana University
Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center
Drew University
Abo Akademi (Finland)
W. W. Norton & Co.
University of California, Los Angeles
Quantum mechanics
Theoretical physics
Philosophy of science
Bohr, Niels Henrik David
Pauli, Wolfgang Ernst
Einstein, Albert
Schrödinger, Erwin
Heisenberg, Werner
Uhlenbeck, George Eugene
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
Copenhagen (Denmark)
United States
Soviet Union
Universität Göttingen

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