Constructive empiricism, partial structures and the modal interpretation of quantum mechanics

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Van Fraassen’s modal interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics is articulated to support an anti-realist account of quantum theory. However, given the particular form of van Fraassen’s anti-realism (constructive empiri-cism), two problems arise when we try to make it compatible with the modal interpretation: one difficulty concerns the tension between the need for modal operators in the modal interpretation and van Fraassen’s skepticism regarding real modality in nature; another addresses the need for the truth predicate in the modal interpretation and van Fraassen’s rejection of truth as the aim of science. After examining these two problems, I suggest a formal framework in which they can be accommodated–using da Costa and French’s partial structures approach–and indicate a variant of van Fraassen’s modal interpretation that does not face these difficulties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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