Do Dispositions and Propensities Have a Role in the Ontology of Quantum Mechanics? Some Critical Remarks

  • Mauro DoratoEmail author
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 347)


In order to tackle the question posed by the title – notoriously answered in the positive, among others, by Heisenberg, Margenau, Popper and Redhead – I first discuss some attempts at distinguishing dispositional from non-dispositional properties, and then relate the distinction to the formalism of quantum mechanics. Since any answer to the question titling the paper must be interpretation-dependent, I review some of the main interpretations of quantum mechanics in order to argue that the ontology of theories regarding ‘wave collapse’ as a genuine physical process could be interpreted as being irreducibly dispositional. In non-collapse interpretations, on the contrary, the appeal to dispositions is simply a way to reformulate the predictive content of the algorithm of the theory in a fancier metaphysical language.


Quantum System Causal Power Categorical Property Ordinary Language Dispositional Property 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I thank the audience in Madrid for helpful questions and criticism. In addition, I am highly indebted to Roman Frigg, Carl Hoefer and Federico Laudisa for their critical comments to a previous version of this paper, which significantly improved the final result, of which, of course I am the only responsible.


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© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Rome 3RomeItaly

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