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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 114, Issue 7, July 2017

Eddy Keming Chen
Pages 333-365
DOI: 10.5840/jphil2017114724

Our Fundamental Physical Space
An Essay on the Metaphysics of the Wave Function

The mathematical structure of realist quantum theories has given rise to a debate about how our ordinary 3-dimensional space is related to the 3N-dimensional configuration space on which the wave function is defined. Which of the two spaces is our (more) fundamental physical space? I review the debate between 3N-Fundamentalists and 3D-Fundamentalists and evaluate it based on three criteria. I argue that when we consider which view leads to a deeper understanding of the physical world, especially given the deeper topological explanation from the unordered configurations to the Symmetrization Postulate, we have strong reasons in favor of 3D-Fundamentalism. I conclude that our evidence favors the view that our fundamental physical space in a quantum world is 3-dimensional rather than 3N-dimensional. I outline lines of future research where the evidential balance can be restored or reversed. Finally, I draw lessons from this case study to the debate about theoretical equivalence.