Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I recently discovered this website and wondering whether Quantum Philosophy is an actual field, or just an aspect of QM?

Apologies if this is in the wrong place.

share|cite|improve this question
+1, this does appear to be on-topic. Trying to find (or rule out) the hidden variables, and pushing the limits of experimentation against the uncertainty principle, are part of the essence of the science of QM. – Blackbody Blacklight Mar 13 '14 at 4:40

It's true that most of the mainstream physicists (rightly - for practical purposes) don't care about these matters, but there is a whole community working on this, however, it's not called "Quantum Philosophy", as most people don't want to do philosphy, rather it is "Foundations of Physics" - or mostly "Foundations of Quantum Theory" or just "Quantum Foundations". Especially within the border of quantum information theory, there are a lot of people quite interested in hidden variable models, theories beyond quantum theory and generally exploring the foundations of physics. Axiomatization (e.g. via "Quantum Logics") always has a philosophical component, hence it is maybe "quantum philosophy". Papers dealing with hidden variable, loopholes in Bell experiments, alternative theories, etc. will mostly be put under the quant-ph ArXiv-Tag.

Important groups I know of working on this from different angles are groups on Bohmian mechanics (Munich or I think it was Rutger's), Quantum information people (e.g. groups at Perimeter institute and Vienna) or with completely different agendas (e.g. Gerhard t'Hooft).

But beware: The subject of quantum foundations is a matter of taste. There are a lot of fringe ideas and rather crazy people around there, so (as always in philosophy, I guess) it's hard to make out the good bits, without deeply delving into the subject.

Personally, I believe that trying to understand the foundations of quantum mechanics (e.g. solving the measurement problem, etc.) is an important endeavour, but it might have no impact on applications whatsoever, which is, why it's something to do in your freetime with the help of philosophers.

share|cite|improve this answer
Thanks Martin, this is very interesting! I am going to investigate this further. – mbyrr May 14 '14 at 4:23

Very few physicists in my school's department seem to care about these questions. The "history and philosophy of physics" tag on arXiv lists only a single page of papers. I believe John Bell worked on these questions as an avocation. That said, there are a lot of different ways to approach "philosophy of physics" type questions, and you can pose such questions more towards the physics side of things. But, judging by appearances, it would seem philosophy departments are more interested in these questions than physicists are.

share|cite|improve this answer
I find this intriguing, as it was via the philosophical angle that brought me to the physics side. In regards to quantum, there are investigations on both sides seemingly to the same end, ala Tom Campbell's work. Though I do wonder how the general physics populace views Campbell's conclusions. – mbyrr Mar 14 '14 at 2:34
I would assume with humor. His wiki says he's a "physicist", but there's nothing online that corroborates this, other than his book, which is published by "Lightning Strike Books LLC." – jyoungs Mar 14 '14 at 21:44
I couldn't find anything about his credentials either. – mbyrr Mar 18 '14 at 0:29
@mbyrr If you can stomach it, you might read through all of these pages. I didn't; but apparently he studied physics. Maybe. – Keep these mind Apr 12 '14 at 15:34
I couldn't stomach it, as it went on and on and on. – mbyrr May 14 '14 at 4:26

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.