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What is Orthodox Quantum Mechanics?

  • David WallaceEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 406)

Abstract

What is called “orthodox” quantum mechanics, as presented in standard foundational discussions, relies on two substantive assumptions—the projection postulate and the eigenvalue-eigenvector link—that do not in fact play any part in practical applications of quantum mechanics. I argue for this conclusion on a number of grounds, but primarily on the grounds that the projection postulate fails correctly to account for repeated, continuous and unsharp measurements (all of which are standard in contemporary physics) and that the eigenvalue-eigenvector link implies that virtually all interesting properties are maximally indefinite pretty much always. I present an alternative way of conceptualising quantum mechanics that does a better job of representing quantum mechanics as it is actually used, and in particular that eliminates use of either the projection postulate or the eigenvalue-eigenvector link, and I reformulate the measurement problem within this new presentation of orthodoxy.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper has benefitted greatly from conversations with Simon Saunders and Chris Timpson, and from feedback when it was presented at the 2016 Michigan Foundations of Modern Physics workshop, especially from Jeff Barrett, Gordon Belot, and Antony Leggett.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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