Richard has taught at the University of Arizona since 1991. He teaches a variety of courses in philosophy of science, including philosophy of biology and physics. For descriptions of courses Prof. Healey regularly teaches, click the links on the left.

philosophy of quantum mechanics

A primary goal of the philosophy of physics is to interpret our best physical theories—to say what the world would be like if such a theory were true of it. Quantum mechanics is perhaps the most successful theory of all time, when judged by the scope and accuracy of its predictions and its explanatory power. But ever since its consolidation 80 years ago there have been heated debates about how it should be interpreted. As we’ll see, the issues raised in the classic debate between Bohr and Einstein have been sharpened, but not clearly resolved, by subsequent thinkers.

One such issue is indeterminism: does quantum mechanics show that physical processes are ultimately chancy, so that exactly similar circumstances may lead to different outcomes? If it does, then what becomes of our concept of causation (not to mention free will)? Another issue is locality: does quantum mechanics show that a distant system may be instantaneously affected by what is done to another system hereabouts? If it does, then isn’t that incompatible with the theory of relativity?

In quantum mechanics, measurement seems to play a very different role than in other theories. Do our observations create, rather than merely revealing, the phenomena? If they do, what can we say about any world (or worlds!) lying behind these phenomena? Can quantum mechanics even give a consistent account of the process of measurement?

We may also take a quick look at some currently "hot" topics like quantum computation and information, quantum cryptography, and quantum teleportation.