David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 188 (1):67-84 (2012)
In this paper I assess the prospects for combining contemporary Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM) with branching-time semantics in the tradition of Kripke, Prior, Thomason and Belnap. I begin by outlining the salient features of ‘decoherence-based’ EQM, and of the ‘consistent histories’ formalism that is particularly apt for conceptual discussions in EQM. This formalism permits of both ‘branching worlds’ and ‘parallel worlds’ interpretations; the metaphysics of EQM is in this sense underdetermined by the physics. A prominent argument due to Lewis (On the Plurality of Worlds, 1986 ) supports the non-branching interpretation. Belnap et al. (Facing the Future: Agents and Choices in Our Indeterministic World, 2001 ) refer to Lewis’ argument as the ‘Assertion problem’, and propose a pragmatic response to it. I argue that their response is unattractively ad hoc and complex, and that it prevents an Everettian who adopts branching-time semantics from making clear sense of objective probability. The upshot is that Everettians are better off without branching-time semantics. I conclude by discussing and rejecting an alternative possible motivation for branching time.
|Keywords||Everett Quantum Branching Semantics Metaphysics Time Many worlds Lewis Belnap Divergence|
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References found in this work BETA
N. Belnap & T. Muller (2010). Branching with Uncertain Semantics: Discussion Note on Saunders and Wallace, 'Branching and Uncertainty'. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):681-696.
Nuel D. Belnap (2001). Facing the Future: Agents and Choices in Our Indeterminist World. Oxford University Press on Demand.
John Bigelow (1988). The Reality of Numbers: A Physicalist's Philosophy of Mathematics. Oxford University Press.
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Murray Gell-Mann & James Hartle (1990). Quantum Mechanics in the Light of Quantum Cosmology. In W. Zurek (ed.), Complexity, Entropy, and the Physics of Information. Addison-Wesley.
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