Berlin 2014 – wissenschaftliches Programm

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AGPhil: Arbeitsgruppe Philosophie der Physik

AGPhil 6: Quantum-Classical Divide IV

AGPhil 6.2: Vortrag

Freitag, 21. März 2014, 11:00–11:30, SPA SR22

In search of a primitive ontology for relativistic quantum field theory — •Vincent Lam — University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

There is a recently much discussed approach to the ontology of quantum mechanics according to which the theory is ultimately about entities in 3-dimensional space and their temporal evolution. Such an ontology postulating from the start matter localized in usual physical space or spacetime, by contrast to an abstract high-dimensional space such as the configuration space of wave function realism, is called primitive ontology in the recent literature on the topic and finds its roots in Bell's notion of local beables. The main motivation for a primitive ontology lies in its explanatory power: the primitive ontology allows for a direct account of the behaviour and properties of familiar macroscopic objects. In this context, it is natural to look for a primitive ontology for relativistic quantum field theory (RQFT).

The aim of this talk is to critically discuss this interpretative move within RQFT, in particular with respect to the foundational issue of the existence of unitarily inequivalent representations. Indeed the proposed primitive ontologies for RQFT rely either on a Fock space representation or a wave functional representation, which are strictly speaking only unambiguously available for free systems in flat spacetime. As a consequence, it is argued that these primitive ontologies constitute only effective ontologies and are hardly satisfying as a fundamental ontology for RQFT.

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