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Quantum Dialogue

The Making of a Revolution

"Science is rooted in conversations," wrote Werner Heisenberg, one of the twentieth century’s great physicists. In Quantum Dialogue, Mara Beller shows that science is rooted not just in conversation but in disagreement, doubt, and uncertainty. She argues that it is precisely this culture of dialogue and controversy within the scientific community that fuels creativity.

Beller draws her argument from her radical new reading of the history of the quantum revolution, especially the development of the Copenhagen interpretation. One of several competing approaches, this version succeeded largely due to the rhetorical skills of Niels Bohr and his colleagues. Using extensive archival research, Beller shows how Bohr and others marketed their views, misrepresenting and dismissing their opponents as "unreasonable" and championing their own not always coherent or well-supported position as "inevitable."

Quantum Dialogue, winner of the 1999 Morris D. Forkosch Prize of the Journal of the History of Ideas, will fascinate everyone interested in how stories of "scientific revolutions" are constructed and "scientific consensus" achieved.

"[A]n intellectually stimulating piece of work, energised by a distinct point of view."—Dipankar Home, Times Higher Education Supplement

"[R]emarkable and original. . . . [Beller’s] arguments are thoroughly supported and her conclusions are meticulously argued. . . . This is an important book that all who are interested in the emergence of quantum mechanics will want to read."—William Evenson, History of Physics Newsletter

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Novelty and Dogma
Dialogical Creativity
Rhetorical Strategies
Part One: Dialogical Emergence
2. Matrix Theory in Flux
A Revision of the Origins of the Matrix Theory
The Emotional Confrontation between the Matrix Physicists and Schrödinger
Born’s Probabilistic Interpretation: A Case Study of "Concepts in Flux"
3. Quantum Philosophy in Flux
Positivism in Flux
Indeterminism in Flux
4. The Dialogical Emergence of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Paper
Dialogue with Schrödinger
Dialogue with Pauli
Dialogue with Dirac
Dialogue with Jordan
Dialogues with "Lesser" Scientists
5. The Polyphony of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Paper
The Polyphony of the Notion of Interpretation
The Contingency of Acausality
Anschaulichkeit and the Status of Classical Concepts
6. The Dialogical Birth of Bohr’s Complementarity
Dialogue with Schrödinger: The Structure of Atoms
Dialogue with Einstein and Compton
Dialogue with Campbell
Clash with Heisenberg: Setting the Historical Record Straight
Confrontation with Pauli
7. The Challenge of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen and the Two Voices of Bohr’s Response
Two Voices in Bohr’s Response to Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen
Bohr’s Victory?
Disturbance, Reality, and Acausality
Bohr’s Doctrine of the Indispensability of Classical Concepts and the Correspondence Principle
Part Two: Rhetorical Consolidation
8. The Polyphony of the Copenhagen Interpretation and the Rhetoric of Antirealism
What Scientists "Need Not" and "Must Not" Do
The Appeal of Antirealism: Some General Considerations
Reality, Classical Concepts, and Symbols
The Appeal of Antirealism: Bohr’s Version
Antirealism and Opposition
The Appearance of Consensus and Conclusion
9. The Copenhagen Dogma: The Rhetoric of Finality and Inevitability
Acausality and the Indispensability of Classical Concepts
Operationalism: From Consistency to Inevitability Arguments
Bohm on Classical versus Quantum Concepts and on Indeterminism
10. Constructing the Orthodox Narrative
Introduction: "Whiggish" History and "Winner’s" Strategies
Discontinuities and Quantum Jumps
Indeterminism and Historiographical Doubts
11. The Myth of Wave-Particle Complementarity
Introduction: The Dramatic Historical Narrative
Mathematical Physicists and the Wave-Particle Dilemma
Ambiguity and the Wave-Particle Issue
Ideological and Pedagogical Uses of Wave-Particle Complementarity
12. Complementarity as Metaphor
The Web of Correspondences and Harmonies
"Wholeness" as Metaphor
Bohr: Mathematics and Common Language
Metaphorical Appeal and Conclusion
13. Hero Worship, Construction of Paradigms, and Opposition
Bohr and Hero Worship
The Issue of Consistency
Opposition, Paradigms, and Past Science
14. Dialogues or Paradigms?
Heisenberg’s "Closed Theories" and Kuhnian "Paradigms"
Where Did Kuhnian Incommensurability Come From?
Hanson’s Incommensurability and the Copenhagen Dogma
Paradigms and the History of Science
Paradigms and Holism
Paradigms and Creativity
15. Dialogical Philosophy and Historiography: A Tentative Outline
In Praise of Disagreement
The Philosophical and Historiographical Advantages of Dialogism
Theory as Practice: Between Tools and Metaphors
Truth and Beauty


Journal of the History of Ideas: Morris D. Forkosch Prize

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