Formalism, Ontology, and Methodology in Bohmian Mechanics

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The relationship between mathematical formalism, physical interpretation and epistemological appraisal in the practice of physical theorizing is considered in the context of Bohmian mechanics. After laying out the formal mathematical postulates of the theory and recovering the historical roots of the present debate over the meaning of Bohmian mechanics from the early debate over the meaning of Schrödinger’s wave mechanics, several contemporary interpretations of Bohmian mechanics in the literature are discussed and critiqued with respect to the aim of causal explanation and an alternative interpretation is proposed. Throughout, the over-arching aim is to exhibit the connections between mathematical, ontological and methodological questions in physical theory and to reflect on the rationality of physical theorizing in light of the present case.