Crítica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Volume 22, number 66, diciembre 1990
Más allá de la presuposición newtoniana: propiedades genuinamente disposicionales en la mecánica cuántica
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Sergio Martínez
Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

sfmar@filosoficas.unam.mx

Abstract: A central metaphysical thesis of modern science has been the idea that the structure of a physical system can be explained in terms of the properties of its constitutive subsystems. I call this presupposition the Newtonian merological presupposition. After some brief introductory remarks on the role of this presupposition in the methodology of modern physics, and after mentioning some recent challenges to it, I focus my attention on quantum systems. Quantum mechanics is the only highly confirmed theory in which the Newtonian merological presupposition is denied. I argue that the presence of a non-Newtonian (holistic) merological structure is the result of the existence of two different types of properties, and in particular of the existence of genuinely dispositional properties. Genuinely dispositional properties are properties of a system which are not reducible to occurrent properties of the subsystems. This distinction between two different types of properties can be made precise in a lattice theoretical modeling of the possible properties and states attributable to a quantum system. I conclude by giving an example of the sort of genuinely dispositional properties that are constitutive of quantum systems.
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