Title of the Research Project
The Metaphysics of Quantum Objects
La Métaphysique des Objets Quantiques
La Metafisica degli Oggetti Quantistici
Metaphysik der Quantenobjekte
Quantum objects, e.g. elementary particles such as electrons, or even more complex objects like hydrogen atoms, and even molecules with 60 carbon atoms---the so-called quantum buckyballs--- behave in an absolutely extraordinaryway: they seem to be in different places at the same time, they seem to depend on other quantum objects that are literally miles apart, and despite the fact that they are the smallest constituents of all the material objects they seem to be able to fill an entire room, and why not, even the universe. The question about the extraordinary nature of the quantum objects, after almost a hundred years from the quantum revolution in physics, still waits a satisfactory answer.
Subject and Aim
The aim and the ambition of the project is to give the aforementioned answer. In particular, the project attempts to provide a detailed, exhaustive and organic metaphysical account of the nature of quantum objects, that is able to account for the extraordinary behavior that I just mentioned. The necessity of a philosophical, and in particular a metaphysical assessment of the nature of quantum objects stems from the fact that, in contrast with classical physics, the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics is notoriously opaque when it comes to its ontological intimations. In Tom Stoppard’s marvelous words:
“When things get very small they get truly crazy (...) A hydrogen atom has a single electron flitting about like a moth in an empty cathedral (...) Every atom is a cathedral (...) There is a straight ladder from the atom to the grain of sand, and the only real mystery in physics is the missing rung. Below it, particle physics; above it, classical physics; but in between, metaphysics! (Tom Stoppard, Hapgood).
The project is divided in six sub-projects, each of which is focused a one fundamental question about the nature of quantum objects: Composition(When to or more quantum objects form a new object?), Dependence(On what do quantum objects depend on?), Determinacy(Are quantum objects indeterminate objects?), Location(Where are quantum objects located at?), Extension(How big are quantum objects?), and, finally, Persistence(How do quantum objects extend through time?)
Social and Scientific Context
The project is a project in metaphysics of science, that is, a project at the crossroads of humanities (philosophy, in particular philosophy of physics and metaphysics), and hard sciences (physics in particular, but mathematical logic as well).
Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Metaphysics, Quantum Objects, Composition, Dependence, Determinacy, Location, Extension, Persistence.