APS March Meeting 2021
Volume 66, Number 1
Monday–Friday, March 15–19, 2021;
Virtual; Time Zone: Central Daylight Time, USA
Session E62: The Author in Dialogue: Jeffrey Bub's Bananaworld.
8:00 AM–10:24 AM,
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Chair: Michel Janssen, University of Minnesota
Abstract: E62.00003 : Interpreting quantum mechanics
9:12 AM–9:48 AM
Inspired by Jeffrey Bub's book: Bananaworld: Quantum Mechanics for Primates, we present our own take on the information-theoretic interpretation of quantum mechanics. On our view, the kinematics of quantum mechanics represents a new framework for doing physics, and it is in the provision of this new framework, and in the consequences that follow from it, that quantum mechanics' fundamental significance for physics lies. We take quantum mechanics to be about probabilities in two senses. First: the state specification of a given system yields, in general, only the probability that a selected observable will take on a particular value when we query the system concerning it. Second: The probability distributions associated with individual observables cannot be embedded into a global prior probability distribution over them all. We begin the talk by commenting on the nature of our derivation of the derivation of the space of quantum correlations for a special but informative case study, highlighting the way in which the `principle-theoretic' and `constructive approaches' to physics work together to yield understanding of the physical world. We then argue that the insight yielded by that derivation is that the fundamental novelty of the quantum mode of description can be located in the kinematics rather than in the dynamics of the theory. We then consider the topic of measurement and the puzzle it presents. We argue that the physical significance of the puzzle of measurement as well as the physical account quantum mechanics provides of particular measurements flow naturally from the constraints that quantum mechanics' kinematical core imposes on our representations of quantum systems. Along the way we will reflect on the conception of the world that we take to be suggested by these constraints. The talk will be based on joint work with Michael Janas and Michel Janssen.