Realism and Quantum


Scientific Realism and the Quantum studies scientific (anti-)realism in the context of quantum physics.

Does science provide knowledge of the ‘unobservable’ world of molecules, atoms, or electromagnetic fields? How about quarks or the Higgs boson? These posits of science cannot be ‘seen’ by the naked eye, or directly observed through instruments, but surely our best confirmed scientific theories give us knowledge of about them? This question of scientific realism is one of the core issues in the philosophy of science.

Quantum physics is extremely well-confirmed. Its impressive predictive and explanatory successes exemplify some of the basic motivations behind the realist attitude. But at the same time profound interpretational issues in the foundations of quantum physics present distinct challenges to realism.

This AHRC-funded project examines scientific realism in relation to quantum physics, its history and current state of play.

We bring together researchers from general philosophy of science and philosophy of physics for fruitful interaction.

The project’s significance derives from the cultural importance of the claims to scientific knowledge that are at stake. As science commands authority as a source of empirical knowledge, it is critical for us to understand how philosophical issues in fundamental physics challenge an otherwise natural attitude towards our best theories.