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Open AccessArticle

Representation Lost: The Case for a Relational Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Entropy 2018, 20(12), 975; https://doi.org/10.3390/e20120975
Received: 26 October 2018 / Revised: 2 December 2018 / Accepted: 11 December 2018 / Published: 15 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entropy in Foundations of Quantum Physics)
Contemporary non-representationalist interpretations of the quantum state (especially QBism, neo-Copenhagen views, and the relational interpretation) maintain that quantum states codify observer-relative information. This paper provides an extensive defense of such views, while emphasizing the advantages of, specifically, the relational interpretation. The argument proceeds in three steps: (1) I present a classical example (which exemplifies the spirit of the relational interpretation) to illustrate why some of the most persistent charges against non-representationalism have been misguided. (2) The special focus is placed on dynamical evolution. Non-representationalists often motivate their views by interpreting the collapse postulate as the quantum mechanical analogue of Bayesian probability updating. However, it is not clear whether one can also interpret the Schrödinger equation as a form of rational opinion updating. Using results due to Hughes & van Fraassen as well as Lisi, I argue that unitary evolution has a counterpart in classical probability theory: in both cases (quantum and classical) probabilities relative to a non-participating observer evolve according to an entropy maximizing principle (and can be interpreted as rational opinion updating). (3) Relying on a thought-experiment by Frauchiger and Renner, I discuss the differences between quantum and classical probability models. View Full-Text
Keywords: foundations of quantum theory; entropy maximizing principle; information-theoretic approaches to the quantum state; relational interpretation; toy-models; realism debate foundations of quantum theory; entropy maximizing principle; information-theoretic approaches to the quantum state; relational interpretation; toy-models; realism debate
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Krismer, R. Representation Lost: The Case for a Relational Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Entropy 2018, 20, 975.

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