PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Scientific Realism and Primitive Ontology

In this paper I wish to connect the recent debate in the philosophy of quantum mechanics concerning the nature of the wave-function to the historical debate in the philosophy of science regarding the tenability of scientific realism. Being realist about quantum mechanics is particularly challenging when focusing on the wave-function. According to the wave-function ontology approach, the wave-function is a concrete physical entity. In contrast, according to an alternative viewpoint, namely the primitive ontology approach, the wave-function does not represent physical entities. In this paper, I argue that the primitive ontology approach can naturally be interpreted as an instance of the so-called ‘explanationism’ realism, which has been proposed as a response to the pessimistic-meta induction argument against scientific realism. If my arguments are sound, then one could conclude that: (1) contrarily to what is commonly though, if explanationism realism is a good response to the pessimistic-meta induction argument, it can be straightforwardly extended also to the quantum domain; (2) the primitive ontology approach is in better shape than the wave-function ontology approach in resisting the pessimistic-meta induction argument against scientific realism.

Author Information:

Valia Allori    
Philosophy
Northern Illinois University

 

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