I will investigate the foundations of the instrumentalist interpretation of quantum mechanics, according to which quantum probabilities merely refer to results obtained if the suitable measurement is performed. While the immediate effectiveness of such an interpretation is widely acknowledged, its ultimate consistency is generally taken to depend either on problematic references to the “observer” or on artificial limits imposed upon the theory’s empirical domain. My project will pursue various pragmatist lines of inquiry in contemporary epistemology and philosophy of language in order to devise a probabilistic semantics which may avoid the preceding dilemma. More specifically, I propose to reformulate the operational reconstruction of (the probabilistic structure of) quantum mechanics as a transcendental argument within the framework of a generalized inferentialist theory of meaning – a framework which emphasizes the normative aspects of the constitutive process of objectivity. The main question I will address is therefore whether (in which sense, to which extent) the structural features of quantum mechanics can be taken to express the conceptual presuppositions of empirical knowledge. While the project explicitly addresses issues relating to the foundations of quantum mechanics, the critical analysis of the conditions under which the proposed approach can be taken to dissolve the interpretive puzzles of quantum mechanics will provide an original contribution to the current debate on inferentialist (vs “representational”) semantics, especially in so far as epistemological implications (relating in particular to the status of logic) are at stake.
BIO: Stefano Osnaghi was born in Milan, where he studied theoretical physics before moving to Paris and receiving a PhD in quantum physics and, more recently, a PhD in philosophy, both from the Ecole Normale Supérieure. As a postdoc researcher he worked at the Federal Universities of Santa Catarina and Bahia as well as at the Centre de Recherche en Epistémologie Appliquée of the Ecole Polytechnique of Paris and at the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften of Vienna. He has been a visiting scholar at the Department of Philosophy of Stanford University with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship (2009-11) and a fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry of Berlin (2012-14). Besides working on quantum entanglement as an experimental physicist, he has published papers on the history and the philosophy of quantum mechanics, most of which deal with the so-called measurement problem. In these works, the measurement problem is not regarded as an issue to be addressed by physics, but rather as a paradigmatic example of a class of semantic and epistemological puzzles whose dissolution has occupied philosophers of the transcendental and pragmatist tradition since Kant and Wittgenstein.