The Department of Logic & Philosophy of Science Colloquium Series presents

"You Can’t Always Get What You Want: How Bell’s Theorems Just Might Help Physics Get What it Needs"
with Brandon Fogel, University of Chicago

Friday, January 27, 2012
3:00 p.m.
Social Science Tower, Room 777

Quantum theory is strange, and its strangeness is tenacious. Nearly a century of sometimes heroic interpretive effort has succeeded only in producing a series of devil’s bargains over ontology, dynamics, and empirical content. While there is consensus that the mechanistic ideal that propelled the development of science for centuries is no longer tenable, there is widespread  disagreement over which elements of that ideal can or should be retained. Bell’s theorems have promised to identify, independent of quantum theory, those classical concepts that are ruled out of physics by experiment. The Bell’s theorems constructed to date, however, have suffered from vagueness and ambiguity. Fogel's talk will address this in two ways: 1) He will present a general framework for analyzing joint probability distributions that reveals the basic structure of the Bell inequalities, thereby opening the door for more precise versions of the  theorem, and 2) He will offer new versions of the theorem motivated by single conditions that are clear and already familiar from physics: commutativity of observables and disturbance-free measurement. While these results cannot cure us of quantum strangeness, they do provide constraints on any successor theory and possible guidance on interpretive questions.

For further information, please contact Patty Jones, or 949-824-1520.


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