Show Less
Restricted access

The Observable

Heisenberg’s Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics


Patrick Aidan Heelan

Edited By Babette Babich

Patrick Aidan Heelan’s The Observable offers the reader a completely articulated development of his 1965 philosophy of quantum physics, Quantum Mechanics and Objectivity. In this previously unpublished study dating back more than a half a century, Heelan brings his background as both a physicist and a philosopher to his reflections on Werner Heisenberg’s physical philosophy. Including considerably broader connections to the contributions of Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli, and Albert Einstein, this study also reflects Heelan’s experience in Eugene Wigner’s laboratory at Princeton along with his reflections on working with Erwin Schrödinger dating from Heelan’s years at the Institute for Advanced Cosmology in Dublin.
A contribution to continental philosophy of science, the phenomenological and hermeneutic resources applied in this book to the physical and ontological paradoxes of quantum physics, especially in connection with laboratory science and measurement, theory and model making, will enrich students of the history of science as well as those interested in different approaches to the historiography of science. University courses in the philosophy of physics will find this book indispensable as a resource and invaluable for courses in the history of science.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter Fifteen: Objectivity and Realism in Quantum Mechanics


| 131 →


Objectivity and Realism in Quantum Mechanics

The problem of objectivity and realism in quantum mechanics can be stated now more clearly.1 Let us suppose that ‘objectivity’ is that property of a description that warrants the acceptance as ‘real’ of what is described as so described. Then, there are three problem areas to be investigated: (1) a strictly philosophical one which attempts to articulate critically the kind of objectivity that characterizes a realistic statement; (2) then having agreed on acceptable criteria of objectivity, the next step is to investigate how these apply or should be applied to quantum mechanics so as to elucidate the objective structure of the realities so described; 3) finally, one has to account for claims of the kind that seem to inject psychology into the heart of physics.

1) I shall not enter deeply into the strictly philosophical problem of objectivity, since I have treated it elsewhere2 and, moreover, an excellent study of the problem ← 131 | 132 → of objectivity in science exists in Bernard Lonergan’s Insight, A Study of Human Understanding.3 The problem requires that different kinds of objectivity be distinguished: (a) Heisenberg’s “objectifiability,” which is linked with the Newtonian picture of the world and with the principle of B-observability; (b) the public (socio-historical) objectivity of publicly testable claims; and (c) the strict objectivity of empirically warranted factual descriptions formulated within an accepted descriptive framework where all the descriptive predicates satisfy the principle of...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.