Unscrambling the Quantum Omelette of Epistemic and Ontic Contextuality: Classical Contexts and Quantum Reality

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de Ronde, Christian
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In this paper we attempt to analyze the physical and philosophical meaning of quantum contextuality. In the first part we will argue that a general confusion within the literature comes from the improper "scrambling" of two different meanings of quantum contextuality. The first one is related to an epistemic interpretation of contextuality, introduced by Bohr, which stresses the incompatibility (or complementarity) of quantum measurements. The second, is related to an ontic notion of contextuality, exposed through the Kochen-Specker (KS) theorem, which focuses on the constraints to discuss about actual (definite valued) properties within the orthodox formalism of QM. We will show how these two notions have been scrambled together creating an "omelette of contextuality" which has been fully widespread through a popularized "epistemic explanation" of the KS theorem according to which: The outcome of the observable A when mea- sured together with B or together with C will necessarily differ in case [A,B] = [A,C] = 0, and [B,C] ̸= 0. We will show why this statement is not only improperly scrambling epistemic and ontic perspectives, but is also physically and philosophically meaningless. In the second part of the paper, we will analyse the relation between ‘classical contexts’ and QM. We will show that three accepted presuppositions found within the orthodox literature are, in general, false. Namely: (i) that quantum contextuality does not preclude an objective description of physical reality, (ii) that the choice of a context (or basis) restores a classical description of reality, and (iii) that the choice of a (classical) context is a necessary condition for accounting for empirical statements in QM.