abstract-zinkernagel – Niels Bohr Archive

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Niels Bohr Archive > Calendar > 2013 > 100 years of the Bohr atom > Programme > abstract-zinkernagel

Henrik Zinkernagel, University of Granada, Spain
Are we living in a quantum world? Bohr and quantum fundamentalism

Quantum fundamentalism is the view according to which everything in the universe (if not even the universe as a whole) is fundamentally quantum and ultimately describable in quantum mechanical terms. Bohr’s conception of quantum mechanics has historically been seen as opposed to such a view – not least because of his insistence on the necessity of classical concepts in the account of quantum phenomena. Recently, however, a consensus seems to be emerging among careful commentators on Bohr to the effect that he – after all – did subscribe to some version of quantum fundamentalism. Against this consensus, I will defend a variant of the more traditional reading of Bohr in which the answer to what an object is (quantum or classical) depends on the experimental context. Inspired by Bohr, I will moreover sketch some principal problems for quantum fundamentalism in contemporary physics and philosophy.