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Teaching Philosophy


published on May 18, 2016

Justin P. McBrayer, Dugald Owen

What Quantum Mechanics Doesn't Show

Students often invoke quantum mechanics in class or papers to make philosophical points. This tendency has been encouraged by pop culture influences like the film What the Bleep do We Know? There is little merit to most of these putative implications. However, it is difficult for philosophy teachers unfamiliar with quantum mechanics to handle these supposed implications in a clear and careful way. This paper is a philosophy of science version of MythBusters. We offer a brief primer on the nature of quantum mechanics, enumerate nine of the most common implications associated with quantum mechanics, and finally clarify each implication with the facts. Our goal is to explain what quantum mechanics doesn’t show.

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