Repository URL:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12313
Author(s):
Dennis Dieks
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preprint description
The surprising aspects of quantum information are due to two distinctly non-classical features of the quantum world: first, different quantum states need not be orthogonal and, second, quantum states may be entangled. Non-orthogonality leads to the blurring of classical distinctions. On the other hand, entanglement leads via non-locality to teleportation and other ``entanglement-assisted'' forms of communication that go beyond what is classically possible. In this article we attempt to understand these new possibilities via an analysis of the significance of entanglement for the basic physical concepts of a ``particle'' and a ``localized physical system''. Classical particles can be individuated on the basis of qualitative differences in their sets of properties. But in entangled states the ``particle labels'' of the quantum formalism usually do not pick out such sets of individuating particle properties. It is sometimes nevertheless possible to think in terms of individual particles, which may be localized; but we argue that in general the structure of quantum mechanics is at odds with such a particle interpretation. This finally leads us to the conclusion that quantum mechanics is best seen as not belonging to the category of space-time theories, in which physical quantities are functions on space-time points. The resulting picture of the quantum world is relevant for our understanding of the way in which quantum theory is non-local, and it sheds light on the novel aspects of quantum information.

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