Quantum mechanics is full of weird findings – for example, that systems widely separated can somehow still be correlated, and that a system may be in two different possible states at the same time. Entanglement and superposition, among other phenomena, have prompted debate since the inception of QM about how, exactly, we should understand what it tells us about reality. In The World in the Wave Function (Oxford UP, 2021), Alyssa Ney defends wave function realism, the claim that the basic representation in QM, the wavefunction, corresponds to a field in a high-dimensional space, and that this field and its space is the fundamental reality. Ney, a leading philosopher of physics and metaphysics at the University of California at Davis, defends this controversial view by explaining how the particles of classical mechanics and the ordinary objects of familiar 3D space can plausibly arise from it. Ney makes the complications of QM accessible to non-physicists, and clearly explains the motivations for her view, the opposing positions, and the challenges that face any interpretation of the ontological implications of quantum mechanics.
Carrie Figdor is professor of philosophy at the University of Iowa.