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How to account for quantum non-locality: ontic structural realism and the primitive ontology of quantum physics

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Esfeld Michael ,
Project The metaphysics of physics: natural philosophy
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Synthese
Volume (Issue) 194
Page(s) 2329 - 2344
Title of proceedings Synthese
DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0549-4


The paper has two aims: (1) it sets out to show that it is well motivated to seek for an account of quantum non-locality in the framework of ontic structural realism (OSR), which integrates the notions of holism and non-separability that have been employed since the 1980s to achieve such an account. However, recent research shows that OSR on its own cannot provide such an account. Against this background, the paper argues that by applying OSR to the primitive ontology theories of quantum physics, one can accomplish that task. In particular, Bohmian mechanics offers the best prospect for doing so. (2) In general, the paper seeks to bring OSR and the primitive ontology theories of quantum physics together: on the one hand, in order to be applicable to quantum mechanics, OSR has to consider what the quantum ontology of matter distributed in space-time is. On the other hand, as regards the primitive ontology theories, OSR provides the conceptual tools for these theories to answer the question of what the ontological status of the wave-function is.