Constructive Empiricism, Partial Structures and the Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Otávio Bueno


Van Fraassen's modal interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics is articulated to support an anti-realist account of quantum theory. However, given the particular form of van Fraassen's anti-realism (constructive empiricism), two problems arise when we try to make it compatible with the modal interpretation: one difficulty concerns the tension between the need for modal operators in the modal interpretation and van Fraassen's skepticism regarding real modality in nature; another addresses the need for the truth predicate in the modal interpretation and van Fraassen's rejection of truth as the aim of science. After examining these two problems, I suggest a formal framework in which they can be accommodated – using da Costa and French's partial structures approach – and indicate a variant of van Fraassen's modal interpretation that does not face these difficulties.

Quanta 2014; 3: 1–15.

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ISSN: 1314-7374