Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Scientific pluralism and consistent quantum theory

P. C. Hohenberg says (Rev. Mod. Phys., vol. 82, pg 2835, 2010) that "consistent quantum theory...is...based on...the simultaneous existence of multiple incompatible representations of reality...no single framework suffices to fully characterize a quantum system." "...there is not a unique exhaustive description of a physical system or process."  I advocate the same description for non quantum systems, "scientific pluralism." (see R. Jones, Bull. Am. Phys. Soc., vol. 54, #1, March 17, 2009 and my blogs of Sept. 8, 2011 and Sept. 26, 2010)

Hohenberg goes on to state a "single-framework rule" that "Any prediction of the theory must be confined to a single framework and combining elements from different frameworks leads to quantum mechanically meaningless statements."  I would not say that of scientific pluralism in general since we might well sum over a whole set of models in order to obtain a prediction. (see the Bayesian argument in my blog of   Aug. 17, 2012) But perhaps Hohenberg is saying much the same thing when he says that "different frameworks capture different real aspects of a quantum system and a full description of that system requires the set of all frameworks."

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