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A Philosopher's Understanding of Quantum Mechanics: Possibilities and Impossibilities of a Modal Interpretation Paperback – July 21, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521675677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521675673
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,542,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"In my view this work will turn out to be a milestone in the project, now already 30 years old, of modal interpretations." Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics

Book Description

Standard quantum mechanics is not a theory that describes the outside world. Rather, it only predicts the probabilities with which measurements have outcomes. However, quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory of nature, and attempts have been made, therefore, to interpret the theory as a description of the world. This book is a survey of the so-called modal interpretations of quantum mechanics, proposed during the 1970s and 1980s, and more fully developed in the 1990s.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Quantum mechanics defies the imagination, we all know that. During the 1990ies a new and elegant interpretation was born (the `modal interpretation'). Philosopher-physicist P.E. Vermaas has helped to build it. In this book he investigates this interpretation very thoroughly --- the book presupposes knowledge of quantum mechanics, its relevant mathematics and a profound love for sub- and superscripts. The conclusions are however not optimistic. If some version of the modal interpretation is going to make sense of the quantum world we seem to inhabit, then it is going to be a quite complicated version.
The basic idea is to investigate under what conditions one can ascribe properties to physical systems, ie mass to an electron, position to a proton, energy to a Helium molecule, without running into contradictions with quantum mechanics itself. The good news is that this turns out to be possible to a larger extent than has generally been accepted. But as said above, the bad news is that it is going to be complicated.
Perhaps one would have expected from one of the builders of the modal interpretation a passionate defense of it --- who else is going to defend it? On the other hand, the honesty to tell bad news concerning what is partly your own intellectual offspring is laudable. Much labour has been spent in this high-level accomplishment, but little passion.
No seriously interested party can afford to ignore this book.
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A Philosopher's Understanding of Quantum Mechanics: Possibilities and Impossibilities of a Modal Interpretation
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