The Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Mechanics

ISBN : 9780198844693

Jeffrey A. Barrett
272 Pages
153 x 153 mm
Pub date
Dec 2019
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In this book Jeffrey A. Barrett provides an introduction to the history and conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics. He begins with a description of classical mechanics and a discussion of the quantum phenomena that radically undermine our common-sense classical intuitions about how the physical world works. He then considers the physical and conceptual arguments that led to the standard von Neumann-Dirac formulation of quantum mechanics and how the standard theory explains quantum phenomena. This includes a discussion of how the theory's two dynamical laws work with the standard interpretation of states to explain determinate measurement records, quantum statistics, interference effects, entanglement, decoherence, and quantum nonlocality. A careful understanding of how the standard theory works ultimately leads to the quantum measurement problem. Barrett considers how this problem threatens the logical consistency of the standard theory and then turns to a discussion of the main proposals for resolving it. This includes collapse formulations of quantum mechanics, the various many-worlds theories, and Bohmian mechanics. In discussing alternative formulations he pays particular attention to the explanatory role played by each theory's empirical ontology and associated metaphysical commitments, and the conceptual trade-offs between theoretical options. The book is well-suited to those interested in physics and the history and philosophy of quantum mechanics.


1 Classical Mechanics
2 Quantum Phenomena
3 The Mathematics of Quantum Mechanics
4 The Standard Formulation of Quantum Mechanics
5 Quantum Interference
6 Real and/or Local
7 The Quantum Measurement Problem
8 The Collapse of the Quantum State
9 Pure Wave Mechanics
10 Many Worlds and Such
11 Bohmian Mechanics
12 Empirical Ontology and Explanation
13 A Formal Characterization of Hilbert Space

About the author: 

Jeffrey A. Barrett is Chancellor's Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at UC Irvine. His research involves the philosophy of physics, epistemology, and the philosophy of science more generally. Much of his research has concerned the history and conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics, particularly no-collapse formulations of quantum mechanics. Barrett studied physics as an undergraduate and has a PhD in Philosophy from Columbia University.

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