Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Zoom Talk (Work in Progress): Michael Cuffaro (Western)

Meeting ID: 970 7667 2218

26.11.2020 12:00  – 14:00 

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The Open Systems View


The quantum theory of closed systems (i.e., standard quantum theory) posits that the physical state of a quantum system is represented by a state vector that evolves unitarily in time in accordance with the Schrödinger equation. Although it is possible to describe a system evolving in interaction with an external environment within this framework, fundamentally systems are represented as closed, i.e., as isolated from their environment. In the alternative theoretical framework of the general quantum theory of open systems, systems are fundamentally represented as open, i.e., as interacting with their external environment, and the dynamics of this interaction are captured by the structure of the semigroup of dynamical maps that are taken to govern a system's evolution. In this talk we argue that the general quantum theory of open systems should be thought of as a more fundamental theoretical framework than the quantum theory of closed systems, both in the epistemic and in the ontic sense. This does not constitute a denial of the central lesson of (standard) quantum mechanics properly understood, but an affirmation of it. This talk is based on joint work with Stephan Hartmann.