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Causation, Realism, Determinism, and Probability in the Science and Philosophy of Max Born

BUNCE, THOMAS,GEORGE (2018) Causation, Realism, Determinism, and Probability in the Science and Philosophy of Max Born. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



In this thesis I will examine the philosophy of the physicist Max Born (1882-1970). As well as his scientific work, Born wrote on a number of philosophical topics: causation, realism, determinism, and probability. They appear as an interest throughout his career, but he particularly concentrates on them from the 1940s onwards. Born is a significant figure in the development of quantum mechanics whose philosophical work has been left largely unexamined. It is the aim of this thesis to elucidate and to critically examine that work.

I will give a defence of presentist historiography in the history and philosophy of science and a (relatively) brief biography of Born. With regards to causation, the thesis will argue that he holds that there exist principles regarding causal relations that have guided the development of physics and have, in the modern formulation of the subject, been confirmed as having an empirical status. I will argue that he is a selective realist, initially with regards to invariant properties and, later on, a structural realist. With regards to determinism, I will argue that Born has produced an argument, compatible with modern philosophical definitions of determinism, that we were never entitled to conclude from the success of classical mechanics that the world was deterministic. Finally, I will argue that Born holds an objective interpretation of probabilities in quantum mechanics which, due to his strong belief in the physical reality of quantum-mechanical probabilities and his apparent disbelief in the superposition of the wave-function, is most likely a long-run propensity theory.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Max Born, History of Quantum Mechanics, Historiography of Science, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Probability
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:19 Jun 2018 11:26

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