What it feels like to be in a superposition, and why: Consciousness and the interpretation of Everett's quantum mechanics

Synthese 110 (2):191-216 (1997)
Abstract
This paper attempts an interpretation of Everett's relative state formulation of quantum mechanics that avoids the commitment to new metaphysical entities like ‘worlds’ or ‘minds’. Starting from Everett's quantum mechanical model of an observer, it is argued that an observer's belief to be in an eigenstate of the measurement (corresponding to the observation of a well-defined measurement outcome) is consistent with the fact that she objectively is in a superposition of such states. Subjective states corresponding to such beliefs are constructed. From an analysis of these subjective states and their dynamics it is argued that Everett's pure wave mechanics is subjectively consistent with von Neumann's classical formulation of quantum mechanics. It follows from the argument that the objective state of a system is in principle unobservable. Nevertheless, an adequate concept of empirical reality can be constructed
Keywords Consciousness  Measurement  Model  Observer  Quantum Mechanics  Reality  Science  Subjective  Everett, H
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