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Relativistic Invariance and Modal Interpretations*

John Earman and Laura Ruetsche
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 72, No. 4 (October 2005), pp. 557-583
DOI: 10.1086/505448
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/505448
Page Count: 27
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Relativistic Invariance and Modal Interpretations*
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Abstract

A number of arguments have been given to show that the modal interpretation of ordinary nonrelativistic quantum mechanics cannot be consistently extended to the relativistic setting. We find these arguments inconclusive. However, there is a prima facie reason to think that a tension exists between the modal interpretation and relativistic invariance; namely, the best candidate for a modal interpretation adapted to relativistic quantum field theory, a prescription due to Rob Clifton (2000), comes out trivial when applied to a number of systems of physical interest. However, it is far from clear whether this difficulty for the modal interpretation is traceable to relativistic invariance per se or to the infinite number of degrees of freedom involved. In any case, the proponents of the modal interpretation have work to do.

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