Towards an Emergentist Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
Organização:  CFCUL
Ciências ULisboa, Building C6
12 / 07 / 2023

In the literature we can find several ways of formulating the measurement problem of Quantum Mechanics (QM). For instance, according to Ladyman and Ross (2007: 180-181), following Maudlin (1995:7), the measurement problem can be presented as a trilemma:
1. All measurements have unique outcomes
2. The quantum mechanical description of reality is complete
3. The only time evolution for quantum systems is in accordance with the Schrödinger equation.
The problem is that QM often attributes to quantum objects superpositions with respect to the properties that we can measure. We do not seem to observe the superposition of macroscopic objects like measurement devices contradicting (1), and so we have a problem if we continue to assume that the particle and the apparatus really don’t have definitive states in accordance with (2), and that the time evolution is always in accordance with (3). (2007, p. 180-181).
Another way of putting the measurement problem is: “If quantum theory is meant to be (in principle) a universal theory, it should be applicable, in principle, to all physical systems, including systems as large and complicated as our experimental apparatus”. (Myrvold, 2018) However, this leads to the following:
“a state in which the reading variable and the system variable are entangled with each other. The eigenstate-eigenvalue link, applied to a state like this, does not yield a definite result for the instrument reading.”
So, despite the diversity of formulations (and solutions) of the measurement problem, it is standard to assume that QM is a universal theory and, therefore that, classical properties are metaphysically reducible (or identical) to quantum properties. Nevertheless, do we need to accept this assumption? This paper aims to i) analyse the micro-reductionist assumption of the universality of QM and its consequences in formulating the measurement problem of QM; ii) explore the possibility of an emergentist account of classical-quantum relationship, its feasibility and advantage.


Maudlin, T. Three measurement problems. Topoi 14, 7–15 (1995).
Myrvold, Wayne (2018), “Philosophical Issues in Quantum Theory”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),
Ladyman, J. and Ross, D. (2007), Everything must go: Metaphysics naturalized, Oxford: Oxford University Press

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