- kvantmekaniken har varit spektakulärt framgångsrik i att ge matematiska förutsägelser som stämmer med observationer. Sämre är det ställt när det gäller sökandet efter en intuitivt tilltalande och begriplig tolkning av ekvationerna. Många tolkningar har föreslagits, inklusive den strikt instrumentalistiska position vilken dömer ut sökandet efter en djupare sanning bortom observationerna och ekvationerna såsom meningslös, men någon lösning som är så tillfredsställande att den förmår samla konsensus bland fysiker tycks inte föreligga
- The second, deeper problem with instrumentalism is that the meaning of the words used by scientists goes far beyond what is "observable". To take a simple example, should paleontologists be allowed to speak about dinosaurs? Presumably yes. But in what sense are dinosaurs "observable"? After all, everything we know about them is inferred from fossil data; only the fossils are "observed". These inferences are not, of course, arbitrary: they can be justfied by evidence from biology (that all bones were once part of organisms) and geology (concerning the processes that transform bones into fossils). The point is, simply, that fossil evidence is evidence for the existence of something other than itself: namely, the fossils of dinosaur bones are evidence for the existence (at some time in the past) of dinosaurs. And the meaning of the word "dinosaur" is not easily expressible in a language that would refer only to fossils. For example, assertions about dinosaurs’ eating habits would have to be rephrased as assertions concerning the spatial correlation of certain types of fossils with certain other types of fossils. This seems unhelpful, to put it mildly.
- Some instrumentalist philosophers of science are prepared to classify dinosaurs as
"observable" on the grounds that, though we cannot observe them, they would have been observable to human beings had the the human species existed 100 million years ago. Now, anyone is free to define the word "observable" however he wishes; but there is no guarantee that the word, so defined, has any epistemological significance. In reality, neither dinosaurs nor electrons are ever observed directly; both are inferred from other observations, and the arguments supporting these two inferences are of comparable strength. It seems to us that, either one allows such inferences and accepts the probable reality (in some sense or other) of both dinosaurs and electrons, or else one rejects all such inferences and refuses to talk about either. To be sure, the meaning of "electron" is far murkier than that of "dinosaur": since we can form mental pictures of mid-size objects like dinosaurs, the meaning of the words referring to them is reasonably clear intuitively even if the objects are never directly observed, which is not necessarily the case for entities like electrons. That is why we are careful to assert only that electrons exist "in some sense or other", while admitting frankly our perplexity about what electrons really are.