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Title: Causation, realism, determinism, and probability in the science and philosophy of Max Born
Author: Bunce, Thomas George
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 8448
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2018
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In this thesis I will examine the philosophy of the physicist Max Born (1882-1970). As well as his scientific work, Born wrote on a number of philosophical topics: causation, realism, determinism, and probability. They appear as an interest throughout his career, but he particularly concentrates on them from the 1940s onwards. Born is a significant figure in the development of quantum mechanics whose philosophical work has been left largely unexamined. It is the aim of this thesis to elucidate and to critically examine that work. I will give a defence of presentist historiography in the history and philosophy of science and a (relatively) brief biography of Born. With regards to causation, the thesis will argue that he holds that there exist principles regarding causal relations that have guided the development of physics and have, in the modern formulation of the subject, been confirmed as having an empirical status. I will argue that he is a selective realist, initially with regards to invariant properties and, later on, a structural realist. With regards to determinism, I will argue that Born has produced an argument, compatible with modern philosophical definitions of determinism, that we were never entitled to conclude from the success of classical mechanics that the world was deterministic. Finally, I will argue that Born holds an objective interpretation of probabilities in quantum mechanics which, due to his strong belief in the physical reality of quantum-mechanical probabilities and his apparent disbelief in the superposition of the wave-function, is most likely a long-run propensity theory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available