The Status of our Ordinary Three Dimensions in a Quantum Universe



There are now several, realist versions of quantum mechanics on offer. On their most straightforward, ontological interpretation, these theories require the existence of an object, the wavefunction, which inhabits an extremely high-dimensional space known as configuration space. This raises the question of how the ordinary three-dimensional space of our acquaintance fits into the ontology of quantum mechanics. Recently, two strategies to address this question have emerged. First, Tim Maudlin, Valia Allori, and her collaborators argue that what I have just called the ‘most straightforward’ interpretation of quantum mechanics is not the correct one. Rather, the correct interpretation of realist quantum mechanics has it describing the world as containing objects that inhabit the ordinary three-dimensional space of our manifest image. By contrast, David Albert and Barry Loewer maintain the straightforward, wavefunction ontology of quantum mechanics, but attempt to show how ordinary, three-dimensional space may in a sense be contained within the high-dimensional configuration space the wavefunction inhabits. This paper critically examines these attempts to locate the ordinary, three-dimensional space of our manifest image “within” the ontology of quantum mechanics. I argue that we can recover most of our manifest image, even if we cannot recover our familiar three-dimensional space.