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Quantum philosophy

  1. Jan 30, 2010 #1
    "Quantum philosophy"

    I am searching for a book that analyses the philosophical aspects arising from quantum theory like EPR paradox, Bell's theorem, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle etc etc. Do you have anything in mind?
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2010 #2
    Re: "Quantum philosophy"

    I can think of two books that do it badly "Tao of Physics" and "Dancing Wuli Masters." Those books are largely non-sense, but they are worth reading if you want to know how convincing non-sense can sound.

    The problem is that there are very few people that are familiar with both philosophy *and* quantum mechanics, and whenever I've had a talk with people that know a lot more philosophy than I do, the general impression is that quantum mechanics has very few philosophical implications.
  4. Jan 31, 2010 #3
    Re: "Quantum philosophy"

    Well, maybe i didn't explain it correctly. I know some things about the mathematics of quantum mechanics. However, it's quite difficult to find in books dedicated to the mathematics some things about the background/philosophy. For example, griffiths has 3 small chapters in the end of the book about EPR, bell's theorem, schrondiger's cat. I am looking for something more extensive about theese subjects.
  5. Jan 31, 2010 #4
    Re: "Quantum philosophy"

    For an online resource, there is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    The book by Jammer's philosophy of QM might be what you want.

    For quantum foundations, Redhead's Incompleteness, Nonlocality, and Realism: A Prolegomenon to the Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics is a classic. Bub's Interpreting the Quantum World explores QM along quite the same line but it is newer. Both are suitable for philosophers rather than typical physicists.

    For more of these, see
  6. Jan 31, 2010 #5
    Re: "Quantum philosophy"

    Thank you very much. While searching, i found "Beyond Measure: Modern Physics, Philosophy and the Meaning of Quantum Theory" which i think is quite interesting. Do you know anything about it ?
  7. Jan 31, 2010 #6
    Re: "Quantum philosophy"

    I have only looked at Beyond Measure once in a library so I can't say much about it. At least I think it's good enough if you're completely new to this area.

    In my opinion, it's useful to distinguish between interpretations and foundations. I haven't actually read much about the former, other than "Einstein, Bohr and the Quantum Dilemma" which is quite informative but otherwise seriously lacks equations. The latter is more about the structure of QM itself like EPR and Bell's theorem that you mentioned. Books like "Interpreting the Quantum World" has both. But generally books about foundations may not talk extensively about "philosophy" by which they mean speculative interpretations. QM textbooks that have something to say about foundstions are Isham, Ballentine and Gottfried. The section "Bell's theorem without probability" in Ballentine largely follows Mermin's paper in Am. J. Phys. "Hidden Variables and the Two Theorems of John Bell." (This is the paper that got me into the whole business.) QM textbooks dedicated to foundations is Peres.

    And there is a classic "Speakable and Unspeakable in QM."
  8. Feb 2, 2010 #7
    Re: "Quantum philosophy"

    I think that Modern Physics is surely interesting to Philosophy, but many of the fundamental questions and conceptions that arise from it (from what I can tell, I have yet to study the mathematical framework) are not neccessarily new. That is probably why twofish-quant says that people he has talked to don't say that Quantum has lots of serious *new* implications for Philosophy. Now, the interesting part is that, for those skeptical of the philosophical method, or the validity of its scope of questions and speculations, the "respectable" realm of Science, Physics in particular ,has brought many older philosophical debates to the forefront in a new and unexpected way; through physical observation and mathematical frameworks.
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