Why Might an Instrumentalist Endorse Bohmian Mechanics?


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I show that Bohmian mechanics may be highly valued by anti-realists, such as cognitive instrumentalists, although it is typically understood to be a realist interpretation of quantum mechanics. I argue that it possesses significant theoretical virtues – and is a vehicle for fostering non-factive understanding concerning how many phenomena interrelate – even if it fails to be approximately true (or true to any significant degree in what it says about unobservable entities). I employ several examples from the history of science to illuminate and support this view.

A Briton wants emotion in his science, something to raise enthusiasm,
something with human interest. He is not content with dry catalogues.
—George F. Fitzgerald (1896: 441)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQuantum Mechanics and Fundamentality : Naturalizing Quantum Theory between Scientific Realism and Ontological Indeterminacy
EditorsValia ALLORI
PublisherSpringer, Cham
ISBN (Electronic)9783030996420
ISBN (Print)9783030996413
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameSynthese Library
ISSN (Print)0166-6991
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8292

Bibliographical note

My work on this paper was supported by a GRF Grant from Hong Kong’s RGC (‘Scientific Progress: Foundational Issues’) and the Center for Foundations of Science, University of Pittsburgh (via a Visiting Fellowship). I am also grateful to David Wallace and two anonymous referees for comments on an earlier version.


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