Heisenberg’s Umdeutung: A Case for a (Quantum-)Dialogue Between History and Philosophy of Science

  • Adrian WüthrichEmail author
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 319)


Mara Beller (1999) argued that Heisenberg’s declared heuristics of eliminating unobservables was, more than anything else, a rhetoric strategy to defend his theoretical proposal, lacking as it did, a proper physical justification. Beller’s conclusions may be right to a considerable extent. However, they make us miss out on the opportunity to use the historical case for a refinement of our notion of observability. I conclude with a sketch of what kind of enterprise we embark on when we try to seize the opportunity that the case offers.


Higgs Boson Programmatic Point German Original Quantum Dialogue Matrix Mechanic 
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.



My reflections on the relation between the history and the philosophy of science have profited much from discussions with Tilman Sauer and Raphael Scholl as well as with the participants of the workshop “the philosophy of historical case studies”, which they organized. The choice of the particular case was prompted by an invitation to give a lecture in the series Geschichte der Physik (“history of physics”), run by Stefan Lüders and other students of the University of Göttingen in 2013. Martin Jähnert provided valuable feedback on my manuscript. I wrote the present article during a visit to the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science of the London School of Economics and Political Science.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Philosophie, Literatur-, Wissenschafts- und TechnikgeschichteTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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