What does it mean to ‘interpret’ Quantum Mechanics?

by Massimo Pigliucci

When I wear my hat as a philosopher of science (partially distinct from my other hat as an evolutionary biologist), I eventually run into a scientist (I could name names, but I won’t) who smugly tells me that philosophy obviously doesn’t make progress. The evidence? Philosophers disagree on all sorts of things and there is no emerging consensus—unlike in science, especially physics.

Setting aside that this kind of reasoning largely reflects ignorance of how philosophy works (surprise—it’s different from science!; see Pigliucci 2017), it turns out that there is at least one area of science where things appear to be characterized by utter confusion and lack of consensus: interpretations of quantum mechanics. And we have the empirical evidence to prove it.

Sujeevan Sivasundaram and Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen, of Aarhus University in Denmark, carried out a study of physicists’ attitudes concerning foundational issues in quantum mechanics (Sivasundaram and Nielsen 2016). The results are eye-opening. The survey is based on 149 responses to a questionnaire that the authors sent to 1,234 physicists affiliated with eight universities. … (continue at Skeptical Inquirer)

Published by Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at platofootnote.org and howtobeastoic.org. He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

5 thoughts on “What does it mean to ‘interpret’ Quantum Mechanics?

  1. I would really love to read this essay on quantum mechanics, but I do not read Skeptical Inquirer enough to subscribe. My subscription expenses already exceed my monthly cable TV bill. It would be nice to have a “pay-as-you-go” micro-charge, like a couple of bucks for just the article.


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