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The Wave FunctionEssays on the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics$
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Alyssa Ney and David Z Albert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199790807

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790807.001.0001

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Reality and the Role of the Wave Function in Quantum Theory

Reality and the Role of the Wave Function in Quantum Theory

Chapter:
(p.91) 4 Reality and the Role of the Wave Function in Quantum Theory
Source:
The Wave Function
Author(s):

Sheldon Goldstein

Nino Zanghì

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790807.003.0004

The most puzzling issue in the foundations of quantum mechanics is perhaps that of the status of the wave function of a system in a quantum universe. Is the wave function objective or subjective? Does it represent the physical state of the system or merely our information about the system? If the former, does it provide a complete or partial description of the system ? We address these questions mainly from a Bohmian perspective and argue that part of the difficulty in ascertaining the status of the wave function arises from the fact that there are two different sorts of wave functions involved. The most fundamental wave function is that of the universe, which, we argue, has a law-like character. From the wave function of the universe together with its configuration one can define the wave function of a subsystem of the universe. This, although objective, has a strong informational/subjective aspect.

Keywords:   quantum mechanics, Bohmian mechanics, wave function, primitive ontology

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