David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Inquiry 42 (3 & 4):311 – 342 (1999)
This essay examines some of the arguments in David Deutsch's book The Fabric of Reality , chief among them its case for the so-called many-universe interpretation of quantum mechanics (QM), presented as the only physically and logically consistent solution to the QM paradoxes of wave/particle dualism, remote simultaneous interaction, the observer-induced 'collapse of the wave-packet', etc. The hypothesis assumes that all possible outcomes are realized in every such momentary 'collapse', since the observer splits off into so many parallel, coexisting, but epistemically non-interaccessible 'worlds' whose subsequent branchings constitute the lifeline-or experiential world-series- for each of those proliferating centres of consciousness. Although Deutsch concedes that his 'multiverse' theory is counter-intuitive, he none the less takes it to be borne out beyond question by the sheer observational/predictive success of QM and the conceptual dilemmas that supposedly arise with alternative (single-universe) accounts. Moreover, he claims the theory resolves a range of longstanding philosophical problems, notably those of mind/body dualism, the various traditional paradoxes of time, and the freewill/determinism issue. The essay suggests on the contrary, that Deutsch unwittingly transposes into the framework of presentday quantum debate speculative themes from the history of rationalist metaphysics, often with bizarre or philosophically dubious results, and that he rules out at least one promising rival account, namely Bohm's 'hidden variables' theory. It goes on to consider reasons for resistance to that theory among proponents of the 'orthodox' (Copenhagen) doctrine, and for the strong anti-realist, at times even irrationalist bias that has characterized much of this discussion since Bohr's debates with Einstein about quantum non-locality, observer-intervention, and the limits of precise measurement. Finally, the contrast is pointed out between Deutsch's ontologically extravagant use of the many-worlds hypothesis (akin to certain ideas advanced by speculative metaphysicians from Leibniz down) and those realist modes of counterfactual reasoning- e.g. in Kripke and the early Putnam- which deploy similar arguments to very different causal-explanatory ends.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Nicholas Maxwell (1988). Quantum Propensiton Theory: A Testable Resolution of the Wave/Particle Dilemma. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (1):1-50.
Christopher Norris (2000). Quantum Theory and the Flight From Realism: Philosophical Responses to Quantum Mechanics. Routledge.
Meir Hemmo (2007). Quantum Probability and Many Worlds. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 38 (2):333-350.
Christopher Norris (2000). Quantum Nonlocality and the Challenge to Scientific Realism. Foundations of Science 5 (1):3-45.
Nicholas Maxwell (1993). Beyond Fapp: Three Approaches to Improving Orthodox Quantum Theory and An Experimental Test. In F. Selleri and G. Tarozzi van der Merwe, F. Selleri & G. Tarozzi (eds.), Bell's Theorem and the Foundations of Modern Physics. World Scientific.
Peter Gibbins (1987). Particles and Paradoxes: The Limits of Quantum Logic. Cambridge University Press.
Christopher Norris (2001). Putnam on Realism, Reference and Truth: The Problem with Quantum Mechanics. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 15 (1):65 – 91.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads20 ( #124,262 of 1,696,808 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #346,744 of 1,696,808 )
How can I increase my downloads?