Reply To: Why Bohmian theory?

Richard Healey

I think we have arrived back at the starting point of my first post on Bohmian mechanics (under a different thread—the one I emailed to you originally). There I compared the Bohmian research program after quantum theory to a Lorentzian research program after special and general relativity.
Bohm and GRW are not quantum theories but non-quantum rivals (even if a Bohmian theory is empirically equivalent to a quantum theory). Similarly, a Lorentzian theory empirically equivalent to a relativistic theory is not a theory of relativity.
If we didn’t have the theory(ies) of relativity, we might well use a Lorentzian theory instead of STR while acknowledging its evidentiary infirmities and continue to play “catch up” by working toward Lorentzian theories empirically equivalent to GTR. But we don’t need to since we have relativity—with no such evidential infirmities.
Similarly, if we didn’t have quantum theory, we might well use Bohmian mechanics
while acknowledging its evidentiary infirmities and continue to play “catch up” by working toward Bohmian interacting field theories empirically equivalent to the Standard Model. But we don’t need to since we have quantum theory—with no such evidential infirmities.
You will doubtless reply that the analogy is bad because quantum theory (in all forms) has conceptual infirmities—that it is inherently inexact, vague, supported by terrible philosophy, riddled with talk of observers, etc.
I maintain that quantum theory may be precisely formulated with no talk of observers or measurements and can be shown to be free of conceptual problems (no measurement problem, no superluminal influences, no tension with relativity, no problematic quantum field-theoretic ontology, no Schrodinger cats or Wigner’s friends, etc.). Perhaps I shouldn’t be too provocative,but I can’t resist quoting Bob Dylan at this point:
“Don’t criticize what you can’t understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command—the times they are a-changing.”
I agree that the discoverers of the theory gave many terribly confused accounts of what they had discovered and why one should accept it, relied on bad philosophy, and gave unsound arguments against (e.g. Bohmian) apostates. But creative physicists aren’t noted for the quality of their thinking outside of their specialty (Einstein and Bell being shining exceptions)!

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