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A Strict Epistemic Approach to Physics

A Strict Epistemic Approach to Physics

A Strict Epistemic Approach to Physics

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Year:2016
Publisher:University of Lund
Pages:543 pages
Language:english
Since:11/02/2016
Size:4.38 MB
License:Pending review

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The general view is that all fundamental physical laws should be formulated within the framework given by quantum mechanics (QM).

In a sense, QM therefore has the character of a metaphysical theory. Consequently, if it is possible to derive QM from more basic principles, these principles should be of general, philosophical nature. Here, we derive the formalism of QM from well-motivated epistemic principles. A key assumption is that in a proper physical theory, the introduction of entities or distinctions that are unknowable in principle is in conflict with the theory. First, an epistemic formalism is developed, using concepts like knowledge and potential knowledge, identifying a physical state S with the potential knowledge of the physical world. It is demonstrated that QM emerges from this formalism. However, Hilbert spaces, wave functions and probabilities are defined in certain well-defined observational contexts only. This means that the epistemic formalism is broader than QM.

In the fundamental layer of description, the physical state S is a subset of a state space S={Z}, such that S always contains many elements Z. These elements correspond to unattainable states of complete knowledge of the world. The evolution of S cannot be determined in terms of the individual evolution of the elements Z, unlike the evolution of an ensemble in classical phase space. The evolution of S is described in terms of sequential time n∈N, which is updated according to n→n+1 each time an event occurs, each time potential knowledge changes. Sequential time n can be separated from relational time t, which describes distances between events in space-time. There is an entire space-time associated with each n, in which t represents the knowledge at sequential time n about the temporal relations between present and past events.

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