Quantum Decoherence in a Pragmatist View: Dispelling Feynman's Mystery

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The quantum theory of decoherence plays an important role in a pragmatist interpretation of quantum theory. It governs the descriptive content of claims about values of physical magnitudes and offers advice on when to use quantum probabilities as a guide to their truth. The content of a claim is to be understood in terms of its role in inferences. This promises a better treatment of meaning than that offered by Bohr. Quantum theory models physical systems with no mention of measurement: it is decoherence, not measurement, that licenses application of Born's probability rule. So quantum theory also offers advice on its own application. I show how this works in a simple model of decoherence, and then in applications to both laboratory experiments and natural systems. Applications to quantum field theory and the measurement problem will be discussed elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1534-1555
Number of pages22
JournalFoundations of Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Decoherence
  • Pragmatist
  • Quantum interpretation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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