Emily Adlam (Cambridge): “Generalized Probabilistic Theories as Structural Realism”

In the field of quantum foundations there is a thriving research programme which involves placing quantum mechanics in a wider space of operationally defined theories in order to gain insight into its structure. There are various existing philosophical analyses of this research framework, but most have a strongly instrumentalist flavour. In this talk, I will argue that this sort of research can alternatively be understood as an implementation of structural realism, with the counterfactual features of the GPT framework encoding information about modal structure. I present a formal approach to the analysis of modal structure in the GPt framework, and demonstrate that structural realism offers new insight into the scientific value of this research and its consequences for future research programmes.