Bohr and the Measurement Problem: Moving towards Holism in Copenhagen

Benich, John Lawrence
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University of Guelph

This thesis is an examination of the measurement problem from within the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics where I take issue with von Neumann’s theory of measurement which argues for the subjective collapse of the wave function by a conscious observer. I argue that von Neumann’s postulate of collapse has led to several intractable philosophical and conceptual problems in its account of quantum measurement. I argue that these problems arise from von Neumann’s misreading of Bohr’s complementarity regarding the relationship between subject and object as distinct metaphysical entities. Instead, I offer a new way of defining the subject-object relation based on Don Howard’s reading of Bohr’s complementarity as subject-object nonseparability (SON). I argue that the SON principle has the potential of placing Copenhagen on more solid philosophical footing by viewing the subject-object relationship not as a causal relation, but as a relation of ontological dependence to avoid the idea of collapse altogether.

Quantum mechanics