Perspectivism and Quantum Mechanics
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In recent years, perspectivism has emerged as a leading contender in the scientific realism debate. Highlighting that human access to reality is always bounded by instrumental, theoretical, and historical perspectives, perspectivists argue that scientific knowledge is necessarily qualified (see, e.g., Giere 2006, Massimi 2022, Teller 2001, 2011, Van Fraassen 2008). Perspectivism is particularly interesting for the purpose of this conference, because it aims at rethinking the nature and scope of scientific theories and models, arguing that reality cannot be viewed from nowhere or from no perspective whatsoever. This view coheres well with certain approaches to quantum mechanics according to which science, at a fundamental level, is not supposed to describe reality as it is in itself but reality as experienced by a subject. It is well-known that several of the founding figures of quantum mechanics championed this idea. In recent years, such ideas have been most forcefully articulated by proponents of QBism, choosing the label of “participatory realism” to emphasize the prominent role of the subject, her experiences, and the interrelatedness of subject and object (Fuchs 2017). Further interpretations that in one way or another contest the idea that physics delivers a purely objective picture of the world include Rovelli’s (1996) relational quantum mechanics, Dieks’ (2019) perspectivalism, and Healey’s (2012) pragmatist approach.
This workshop brings together researchers working on perspectivist approaches to philosophy of science and those working on perspectivist interpretations of quantum mechanics. The idea is that quantum mechanics (if interpreted accordingly) supports perspectivist approaches to science and that perspectivist approaches to the scientific realism debate can serve as a suitable philosophical-conceptual framework for certain interpretations of quantum mechanics.
Accordingly, the conference will be organized around two topical areas:
1. The implications of quantum mechanics for perspectivism
How do certain features, phenomena, and interpretations of quantum mechanics support perspectivist approaches to the scientific realism debate? Can engaging with quantum mechanics lead to more precise or stronger versions of perspectivism? Does the history of quantum mechanics tell us lessons that are helpful for perspectivist ideas? For instance, do often-overlooked phenomenological motifs in the works of Fritz London, Hermann Weyl, and John Archibald Wheeler, among others, support perspectivist teachings?
2. The implications of perspectivism for interpretations of quantum mechanics
Can perspectivist approaches to philosophy of science help clarifying the philosophical implications of certain interpretations of quantum mechanics? Do they constitute a suitable philosophical-conceptual framework for certain interpretations of quantum mechanics? For instance, is it fruitful to view QBism as a form of perspectival realism?