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Rand's Objectivisms' central tenets are that reality exists independently of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic.

Quantum physical experiment after experiment has shown that if we assume that the particles that make up ordinary objects have an objective, observer-independent existence, we get the wrong answers.

Which is it?

  • It seems like your question is a more general one: Does quantum physics refute the idea of objective reality? If this is correct then (1) reformulating the question might get you more attention and answers, (2) this might interest you: plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-measurement. – Eliran May 6 '16 at 14:45
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    @SwamiVishwananda If we can ask questions about Wittgenstein, who openly repudiated philosophy, without everybody bitching, then why not ask questions about Rand who thought philosophy was absolutely central to living a good life? See the title essay "Philosophy: who needs it" by Rand. – alanf May 8 '16 at 11:03
  • This is odd I thought Rand rejected philosophy as useless. Her views would suggest this. I wonder how many philosophers would call her a philosopher. It is an opinion, I suppose, but I'd say analysis disposes of her views and quantum mechanics just provides the nails for the coffin. – PeterJ Nov 5 '18 at 13:10
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Rand's Objectivisms' central tenets are that reality exists independently of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic.

Rand didn't say much about induction except that she didn't know how it works from the appendix to "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology":

Prof. M: The question is: when does one stop? When does one decide that enough confirming evidence exists? Is that in the province of the issue of induction?

AR: Yes. That’s the big question of induction. Which I couldn’t begin to discuss—because (a) I haven’t worked on that subject enough to even begin to formulate it, and (b) it would take an accomplished scientist in a given field to illustrate the whole process in that field.

An idea that Rand freely admits she didn't understand can hardly be regarded as central to Objectivism.

Your write:

Quantum physical experiment after experiment has shown that if we assume that the particles that make up ordinary objects have an objective, observer-independent existence, we get the wrong answers.

This is false. In quantum mechanics, a system in general does not have a single value for each measurable quantity. Rather, the system exists in multiple instances that are partitioned into versions, with each version having some particular measurable value. So there is a version of my coffee mug sitting in its current position on the table next to me, and another version one millimetre away from that, and many other versions of the mug. We can tell that these different versions of a system exist by doing experiments such as interference experiments. See "The Fabric of Reality" by David Deutsch, Chapter 2.

When you measure a system, you evolve so that after the measurement there are multiple versions of you, one for each version of the system you measured. Before the measurement there is no single fact of the matter about what outcome you will see. Some people are confused by this into thinking that the system doesn't exist before you do the measurement or similarly silly ideas. But this is refuted by the fact that you can manipulate the system before measuring it, which you could hardly do if it didn't exist.

Quantum mechanics doesn't refute the existence of an objective world. Rather, it claims that the world is very different from how people imagined it before quantum mechanics.

Does quantum mechanics refute the idea that I have direct contact with reality through sense perception? No. It just says that the reality I have contact with through sense perception is a lot more complex than it appears at first glance.

Nor does quantum mechanics refute the idea that we can understand reality. Arguably it puts in a better position to understand reality, since it allows the construction of computers that can simulate any physical system to any desired degree of accuracy:

http://www.daviddeutsch.org.uk/wp-content/ItFromQubit.pdf.

Some people claim that quantum mechanics is so strange that the laws of logic don't apply to it and that a new quantum logic if needed. In reality, ordinary logic still applies to quantum mechanics, provided you take the propositions as being about the whole of physical reality, i.e. - a description in terms of all of the versions of each system and how the versions interfere with one another.

  • Agreed. QM is describable through mathematics and physical law. The uncertainty principle and other aspects of it are simply facts, aspects of their nature, and will be accepted or not as evidence dictates. The important point for Objectivism is that, QM or not, your wishes, denials, or misunderstandings do not shape the world. You have to observe the world, draw rational conclusions, and act in accordance with physical laws to achieve your desired results. – kbelder Jul 7 '17 at 18:10
  • How distant is quantum logic from Aristotlean logic and Ayn Rand's logic? Does quantum logic allow for binary logic? (iep.utm.edu/qu-logic) – Tautological Revelations Nov 7 '18 at 1:54
  • Ordinary logic still applies to quantum mechanics, provided you take the propositions as being about the whole of physical reality, i.e. - a description in terms of all of the versions of each system and how the versions interfere with one another. – alanf Nov 7 '18 at 8:01
  • May we respectfully emphasize this point a tad bit more? :) – Tautological Revelations Nov 7 '18 at 18:51
  • There is quantum logic and it has no distributive law due to uncertainty principle. However, there are no other differences, all other laws hold. – rus9384 Nov 8 '18 at 12:19
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Bohm believed in an objective reality that had a hidden part which is difficult for us to measure, observe or think about, but not impossible. That made Bohm's thought (although he had been socialist by mistake) very similar to the philosophical views of Ayn Rand.

  • I made some edits which you may roll back or continue editing. If you have references this would strengthen your answer and give the reader a place to go for more information. Welcome to this SE! – Frank Hubeny Nov 5 '18 at 4:01
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Ayn Rands philosophy of Objectivism is not much different from Common-Sense'ism. It doesn't go very far and nor is very searching.

I doubt if Ayn Rand had heard of QM or for that matter, GR. She mostly seems to be interested in herself. A spell that she also seems to have cast upon a large number of impressionable acolytes.

Her philosophy seems to be a simple-minded and crude form of phenomenology. That is taking the world as objectively granted and then asking what we ought to be in it, and how we ought to act.

  • What is "Common-Sense'ism"? I find it accusing to call an intuitive ordinary world view "Common-Sense'ism". But I agree Ayn Rand is not promoting something, but rather criticising the philosophy of compassion. And in other fields it is just "why dother?" Here I might agree, why bother when there are so many real problems. But in theory problems are temporary. – rus9384 Nov 8 '18 at 10:20
  • @rus9384: What's wrong with calling an 'intuitive ordinary world view' commonsensical? What I'm saying is that she's not saying anything particularly profound, and that at turgid and tedious length. And what philosophy she does know she's borrowed with no acknowledgement - which fools the uninitiated that she's thought it all up herself. It's a witches, bitches brew of mostly undigested philosophy. – Mozibur Ullah Nov 8 '18 at 11:08
  • @rus9384: What do you mean by 'accusing'? – Mozibur Ullah Nov 8 '18 at 11:16
  • Well, maybe that's just my language. On my language Common Sense is called (translating literally) Healthy Sense/Meaning (which the real meaning of "way of thinking"). I would not call this silly view the one belonging to Healthy way of thinking. I am not sure she says she came to her thoughts only herself. – rus9384 Nov 8 '18 at 12:14

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