First, however, it is worth noting that (even if he were correct in thinking that quantum uncertainty refutes the laws of logic) my respondent is still utilizing the laws of logic throughout his post; he is acting as though these laws do exist and do apply in the universe in which this thread is taking place. And this is just one of the most obvious problems with postmodern epistemological claims—the postmodernist cannot live consistently as though what he is claiming (about truth and knowledge) is really true. That he finds argumentation and discussion worth engaging in is evidence that he really believes in truth and logic, whatever he might say. But back to QM…
Quantum mechanics is the field of physics that seeks to understand the behavior of subatomic particles. Central to this very specific field and scale is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. [Apparently, it is “certainty” (on the part of anyone making a truth claim) that is the greatest anathema or offense to those steeped in postmodernism. Thus, when a scientific principle includes in its name the word “uncertainty,” that principle seems readymade for use in denying our potential for certainty. Postmodernists are not the only ones to misapply this principle. Naturalists use it to avoid the obvious conclusions to which the cosmological and astrophysical evidence points—that there is a transcendent Creator behind the beginning of the universe.]
But QM generally and Heisenberg uncertainty in particular apply only to the micro scale of subatomic particles. According to Wikipedia…
In quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is the statement that locating a particle in a small region of space makes the momentum of the particle uncertain; and conversely, that measuring the momentum of a particle precisely makes the position uncertain.Quantum physics does not refute or replace general relativity. Rather, it represents a refinement—a recognition that there is this one scale at which the physics with which we are familiar (those at the macro level) do not apply.* At the scale at which we live (and argue and discuss), quantum physics and Heisenberg uncertainty do not come into play. All quantum mechanics shows us is that at the very specific level of particle physics, man is limited in his ability to measure specific aspects of quantum effects.
In quantum mechanics, the position and momentum of particles do not have precise values, but have a probability distribution. There are no states in which a particle has both a definite position and a definite momentum. The narrower the probability distribution is in position, the wider it is in momentum.
But this is not the only problem with my respondent’s claim. Even if it didn’t suffer from this problem of scale, the claim involves a nonsequitur. There would seem to be a huge number of unsupplied premises between the starting point “quantum mechanics indicates a level of uncertainty previously overlooked” and the conclusion “the law of non-contradiction is broken.” (And again, the law of non-contradiction is assumed whenever one attempts—even fallaciously—an argument such as this.) If there were in QM some basis for questioning the laws of logic (which there is not), it would still require a rigorous argument to demonstrate that. I trust that the readers of this blog are critical enough not to be impressed by vague appeals that are meant to replace reasoned arguments.
The law of non-contradiction remains an important aspect of the universe in which we live, and quantum mechanics has in the end nothing to say about that.
*Similarly, general relativity neither refuted nor replaced Newtonian physics. Rather, it represented a refinement, a recognition of a scale and set of circumstances at which Newtonian physics are not comprehensive and adequate. To say that quantum mechanics refutes the law of non-contradiction is a bit like saying that we need not bother worrying about gravity now that general relativity has been verified.