The roads not taken: empty waves, wavefunction collapse and protective measurement in quantum theory

Peter Holland, University of Oxford

In this contribution we shall be concerned with two classes of interpretations of quantum mechanics: the epistemological (the historically dominant view) and the ontological. The first views the wavefunction as just a repository of (statistical) information on a physical system. The other treats the wavefunction primarily as an element of physical reality, whilst generally retaining the statistical interpretation as a secondary property. There is as yet only theoretical justification for the programme of modelling quantum matter in terms of an objective spacetime process; that some way of imagining how the quantum world works between measurements is surely better than none. Indeed, a benefit of such an approach can be that ‘measurements’ lose their talismanic aspect and become just typical processes described by the theory. Full text

Forthcoming in S. Gao (eds.) Protective Measurements and Quantum Reality: Toward a New Understanding of Quantum Mechanics (CUP, 2014).

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