@MISC{Bub04whythe, author = {Jeffrey Bub}, title = {Why the Quantum?}, year = {2004} }

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Abstract

This paper is a commentary on the foundational significance of the Clifton-Bub-Halvorson theorem characterizing quantum theory in terms of three information-theoretic constraints. I argue that: (1) a quantum theory is best understood as a theory about the possibilities and impossibilities of information transfer, as opposed to a theory about the mechanics of nonclassical waves or particles, (2) given the information-theoretic constraints, any mechanical theory of quantum phenomena that includes an account of the measuring instruments that reveal these phenomena must be empirically equivalent to a quantum theory, and (3) assuming the information-theoretic constraints are in fact satisfied in our world, no mechanical theory of quantum phenomena that includes an account of measurement interactions can be acceptable, and the appropriate aim of physics at the fundamental level then becomes the representation and manipulation of information.