Prof. Alyssa Ney in Conversation with Prof. David Glick
If quantum theories of the world are true-and empirical evidence suggests they are-what do they tell us about us, and the world? How should quantum theories make us reevaluate our classical conceptions of material objects? Nearly a century after the development of quantum theories, a consensus has yet to emerge. Ney here defends and develops a particular framework for understanding the world as it is described by quantum theories. This framework was initially suggested by Schrödinger in the 1920's and was further defended as an account of reality by two philosophers of physics in the 1990's who described it as a necessary point of view for those who argue that quantum theories are correct representations of our world. This framework is called wave function realism, which interprets quantum theories such that its central object is the quantum wave function, interpreted as a field on an extremely high-dimension space. This theory views us, and all objects, as ultimately constituted out of the wave function, and though we seem to occupy three dimensions, the fundamental spatial framework of quantum worlds consists of many more dimensions. Ney argues for and advances this view, with the goal of making a case for how this theory how it might be applied to relativistic quantum theories, including quantum field theories. Her conclusion develops an account of how we as human beings might ultimately see ourselves and the objects around us as constituted out of the wave function.
Alyssa Ney is a Professor of Philosophy and Philosophy Graduate Advisor at the University of California, Davis, where she has taught since July 2015. She received her MA and PhD in Philosophy from Brown University, her MS in Physics from UC Davis, and her BS in Physics and Philosophy from Tulane University. She is Associate Editor at The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science and past-President of the Society for the Metaphysics of Science. Her research focuses primarily on fundamentality, the unity of science, and the interpretation of quantum theories.