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Profile: Jeffrey Barrett (University of California, Irvine)
  1. Jeffrey Barrett, The Bare Theory and How to Fix It.
    The bare theory is the standard von Neumann·Dirac formulation of quantum mechanics without the collapse postulate but with the eigenvalueeigenstate link. Albert (1992, 1i6-125) presented the bare theory as one way of understanding EverettRi7;s relative-state interpretation. At first glance, it looks as if the bare theory cannot possibly account for our experience. After all, at the end of a measurement an observer will typically be in a superposition of having recorded mutually incompatible results, which on the standard interpretation of states (...)
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  2. Jeffrey Barrett, On the Cognitive Status of Our Best Physical Theories.
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories are false: In addition to its own internal problems, the standard formulation of quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with special relativity. There is also good reason to suppose that we have no concrete idea concerning what it might mean to claim that these theories are approximately or vaguely true. I will argue that providing a concrete understanding the approximate or vague truth of our current physical theories is not a (...)
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  3. Jeffrey Barrett, Pure Pragmatics and the Transcendence of Belief.
    Accuracy in the philosophical theory of rationality demands that we recognize particular beliefs as arising within the context of larger units, the cultural or conceptual schemes, patterns, or practices, involvement in which itself provides standards and grounds for their rational evaluation. At the same time, though, a satisfactory account of rationality cannot hold the standards, values, or commitments of one particular culture, practice, or conceptual scheme, even one’s own, immune from rational criticism. In order to accurately and responsibly picture the (...)
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  4. Jeffrey A. Barrett, Numerical Simulations of the Lewis Signaling Game: Learning Strategies, Pooling Equilibria, and the Evolution of Grammar.
    David Lewis (1969) introduced sender-receiver games as a way of investigating how meaningful language might evolve from initially random signals. In this report I investigate the conditions under which Lewis signaling games evolve to perfect signaling systems under various learning dynamics. While the 2-state/2- term Lewis signaling game with basic urn learning always approaches a signaling system, I will show that with more than two states suboptimal pooling equilibria can evolve. Inhomogeneous state distributions increase the likelihood of pooling equilibria, but (...)
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  5. Jeffrey A. Barrett, Wigner's Friend and Bell's Field Beables.
    A field-theoretic version of Wigner’s friend (1961) illustrates how the quantum measurement problem arises for field theory. Similarly, considering spacelike separate measurements of entangled fields by observers akin to Wigner’s friend shows the sense in which relativistic constraints make the measurement problem particularly difficult to resolve in the context of a relativistic field theory. We will consider proposals by Wigner (1961), Bloch (1967), Helwig and Kraus (1970), and Bell (1984) for resolving the measurement problem for quantum field theory. We will (...)
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  6. Jeffrey A. Barrett & Wayne Aitken, On the Physical Possibility of Ordinal Computation (Draft).
    α-recursion lifts classical recursion theory from the first transfinite ordinal ω to an arbitrary admissible ordinal α [10]. Idealized computational models for α-recursion analogous to Turing machine models for classical recursion have been proposed and studied [4] and [5] and are applicable in computational approaches to the foundations of logic and mathematics [8]. They also provide a natural setting for modeling extensions of the algorithmic logic described in [1] and [2]. On such models, an α-Turing machine can complete a θ-step (...)
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  7. Jeffrey Barrett & Kevin J. S. Zollman, The Role of Forgetting in the Evolution and Learning of Language.
    Lewis signaling games illustrate how language might evolve from random behavior. The probability of evolving an optimal signaling language is, in part, a function of what learning strategy the agents use. Here we investigate three learning strategies, each of which allows agents to forget old experience. In each case, we find that forgetting increases the probability of evolving an optimal language. It does this by making it less likely that past partial success will continue to reinforce suboptimal practice. The learning (...)
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  8. Jeffrey A. Barrett (forthcoming). The Evolution, Appropriation, and Composition of Rules. Synthese:1-14.
    This paper concerns how rule-following behavior might evolve in the context of a variety of Skyrms–Lewis signaling game (Lewis, Convention, 1969; Skyrms, Signals evolution, learning, & information 2010), how such rules might subsequently evolve to be used in new contexts, and how such appropriation allows for the composition of evolved rules. We will also consider how the composition of simpler rules to form more complex rules may be significantly more efficient than evolving the complex rules directly. And we will review (...)
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  9. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2014). Description and the Problem of Priors. Erkenntnis 79 (6):1343-1353.
    Belief-revision models of knowledge describe how to update one’s degrees of belief associated with hypotheses as one considers new evidence, but they typically do not say how probabilities become associated with meaningful hypotheses in the first place. Here we consider a variety of Skyrms–Lewis signaling game (Lewis in Convention. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1969; Skyrms in Signals evolution, learning, & information. Oxford University Press, New York, 2010) where simple descriptive language and predictive practice and associated basic expectations coevolve. Rather than (...)
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  10. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2013). On the Coevolution of Basic Arithmetic Language and Knowledge. Erkenntnis 78 (5):1025-1036.
    Skyrms-Lewis sender-receiver games with invention allow one to model how a simple mathematical language might be invented and become meaningful as its use coevolves with the basic arithmetic competence of primitive mathematical inquirers. Such models provide sufficient conditions for the invention and evolution of a very basic sort of arithmetic language and practice, and, in doing so, provide insight into the nature of a correspondingly basic sort of mathematical knowledge in an evolutionary context. Given traditional philosophical reflections concerning the nature (...)
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  11. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2013). On the Coevolution of Theory and Language and the Nature of Successful Inquiry. Erkenntnis:1-14.
    Insofar as empirical inquiry involves the coevolution of descriptive language and theoretical commitments, a satisfactory model of empirical knowledge should describe the coordinated evolution of both language and theory. But since we do not know what conceptual resources we might need to express our future theories or to provide our best future faithful descriptions of the world, we do not now know even what the space of future descriptive options might be. One strategy for addressing this shifting-resource problem is to (...)
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  12. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2013). The Evolution of Simple Rule-Following. Biological Theory 8 (2):142-150.
    We are concerned here with explaining how successful rule-following behavior might evolve and how an old evolved rule might come to be successfully used in a new context. Such rule-following behavior is illustrated in the transitive judgments of pinyon and scrub-jays (Bond et al., Anim Behav 65:479–487, 2003). We begin by considering how successful transitive rule-following behavior might evolve in the context of Skyrms–Lewis sender–receiver games (Lewis, Convention. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1969; Skyrms, Philos Sci 75:489–500, 2006). We then consider (...)
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  13. Jeffrey Barrett (2011). Everett's Pure Wave Mechanics and the Notion of Worlds. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (2):277-302.
    Everett (1957a, b, 1973) relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics has often been taken to involve a metaphysical commitment to the existence of many splitting worlds each containing physical copies of observers and the objects they observe. While there was earlier talk of splitting worlds in connection with Everett, this is largely due to DeWitt’s (Phys Today 23:30–35, 1970) popular presentation of the theory. While the thought of splitting worlds or parallel universes has captured the popular imagination, Everett himself favored the (...)
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  14. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2011). On the Faithful Interpretation of Pure Wave Mechanics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4):693-709.
    Given Hugh Everett III's understanding of the proper cognitive status of physical theories, his relative-state formulation of pure wave mechanics arguably qualifies as an empirically acceptable physical theory. The argument turns on the precise nature of the relationship that Everett requires between the empirical substructure of an empirically faithful physical theory and experience. On this view, Everett provides a weak resolution to both the determinate record and the probability problems encountered by pure wave mechanics, and does so in a way (...)
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  15. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2010). Faithful Description and the Incommensurability of Evolved Languages. Philosophical Studies 147 (1):123 - 137.
    Skyrms-Lewis signaling games illustrate how meaningful language may evolve from initially meaningless random signals (Lewis, Convention 1969; Skyrms 2008). Here we will consider how incommensurable languages might evolve in the context of signaling games. We will also consider the types of incommensurability exhibited between evolved languages in such games. We will find that sequentially evolved languages may be strongly incommensurable while still allowing for increasingly faithful descriptions of the world.
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  16. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2009). Review of Bas C. Van Fraassen: Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 106 (11).
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  17. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2009). Scientific Representation. Journal of Philosophy 106 (11):634-639.
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  18. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2009). The Evolution of Coding in Signaling Games. Theory and Decision 67 (2):223-237.
    Signaling games with reinforcement learning have been used to model the evolution of term languages (Lewis 1969, Convention. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Skyrms 2006, “Signals” Presidential Address. Philosophy of Science Association for PSA). In this article, syntactic games, extensions of David Lewis’s original sender–receiver game, are used to illustrate how a language that exploits available syntactic structure might evolve to code for states of the world. The evolution of a language occurs in the context of available vocabulary and syntax—the (...)
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  19. Wayne Aitken & Jeffrey A. Barrett (2008). Abstraction in Algorithmic Logic. Journal of Philosophical Logic 37 (1):23 - 43.
    We develop a functional abstraction principle for the type-free algorithmic logic introduced in our earlier work. Our approach is based on the standard combinators but is supplemented by the novel use of evaluation trees. Then we show that the abstraction principle leads to a Curry fixed point, a statement C that asserts C ⇒ A where A is any given statement. When A is false, such a C yields a paradoxical situation. As discussed in our earlier work, this situation leaves (...)
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  20. Jeffrey Barrett, Everett's Relative-State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics is an attempt to solve the measurement problem by dropping the collapse dynamics from the standard von Neumann-Dirac theory of quantum mechanics. The main problem with Everett's theory is that it is not at all clear how it is supposed to work. In particular, while it is clear that he wanted to explain why we get determinate measurement results in the context of his theory, it is unclear how he intended to do this. There (...)
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  21. Jeffrey Alan Barrett (2008). Approximate Truth and Descriptive Nesting. Erkenntnis 68 (2):213 - 224.
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories, quantum mechanics and special relativity, are false if taken together and literally. If they are in fact false, then how should they count as providing knowledge of the physical world? One might imagine that, while strictly false, our best physical theories are nevertheless in some sense probably approximately true. This paper presents a notion of local probable approximate truth in terms of descriptive nesting relations between current and subsequent theories. (...)
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  22. Wayne Aitken & Jeffrey A. Barrett (2007). Stability and Paradox in Algorithmic Logic. Journal of Philosophical Logic 36 (1):61 - 95.
    There is significant interest in type-free systems that allow flexible self-application. Such systems are of interest in property theory, natural language semantics, the theory of truth, theoretical computer science, the theory of classes, and category theory. While there are a variety of proposed type-free systems, there is a particularly natural type-free system that we believe is prototypical: the logic of recursive algorithms. Algorithmic logic is the study of basic statements concerning algorithms and the algorithmic rules of inference between such statements. (...)
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  23. Jeffrey Barrett (2007). Stability and Paradox in Algorithmic Logic. Journal of Philosophical Logic 36 (1):61 - 95.
    There is significant interest in type-free systems that allow flexible self-application. Such systems are of interest in property theory, natural language semantics, the theory of truth, theoretical computer science, the theory of classes, and category theory. While there are a variety of proposed type-free systems, there is a particularly natural type-free system that we believe is prototypical: the logic of recursive algorithms. Algorithmic logic is the study of basic statements concerning algorithms and the algorithmic rules of inference between such statements. (...)
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  24. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2007). Dynamic Partitioning and the Conventionality of Kinds. Philosophy of Science 74 (4):527-546.
    Lewis sender‐receiver games illustrate how a meaningful term language might evolve from initially meaningless random signals (Lewis 1969; Skyrms 2006). Here we consider how a meaningful language with a primitive grammar might evolve in a somewhat more subtle sort of game. The evolution of such a language involves the co‐evolution of partitions of the physical world into what may seem, at least from the perspective of someone using the language, to correspond to canonical natural kinds. While the evolved language may (...)
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  25. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2006). A Quantum-Mechanical Argument for Mind–Body Dualism. Erkenntnis 65 (1):97 - 115.
    I argue that a strong mind–body dualism is required of any formulation of quantum mechanics that satisfies a relatively weak set of explanatory constraints. Dropping one or more of these constraints may allow one to avoid the commitment to a mind–body dualism but may also require a commitment to a physical–physical dualism that is at least as objectionable. Ultimately, it is the preferred basis problem that pushes both collapse and no-collapse theories in the direction of a strong dualism in resolving (...)
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  26. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2005). The Preferred-Basis Problem and the Quantum Mechanics of Everything. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (2):199-220.
    argued that there are two options for what he called a realistic solution to the quantum measurement problem: (1) select a preferred set of observables for which definite values are assumed to exist, or (2) attempt to assign definite values to all observables simultaneously (1810–1). While conventional wisdom has it that the second option is ruled out by the Kochen-Specker theorem, Vink nevertheless advocated it. Making every physical quantity determinate in quantum mechanics carries with it significant conceptual costs, but it (...)
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  27. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2005). Relativistic Quantum Mechanics Through Frame-Dependent Constructions. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):802-813.
    This paper is concerned with the possibility and nature of relativistic hidden-variable formulations of quantum mechanics. Both ad hoc teleological constructions of spacetime maps and frame-dependent constructions of spacetime maps are considered. While frame-dependent constructions are clearly preferable, they provide neither mechanical nor causal explanations for local quantum events. Rather, the hiddenvariable dynamics used in such constructions is just a rule that helps to characterize the set of all possible spacetime maps. But while having neither mechanical nor causal explanations of (...)
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  28. Wayne Aitken & Jeffrey A. Barrett (2004). Computer Implication and the Curry Paradox. Journal of Philosophical Logic 33 (6):631-637.
    There are theoretical limitations to what can be implemented by a computer program. In this paper we are concerned with a limitation on the strength of computer implemented deduction. We use a version of the Curry paradox to arrive at this limitation.
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  29. Jeffrey Barrett (2004). Computer Implication and the Curry Paradox. Journal of Philosophical Logic 33 (6):631 - 637.
    There are theoretical limitations to what can be implemented by a computer program. In this paper we are concerned with a limitation on the strength of computer implemented deduction. We use a version of the Curry paradox to arrive at this limitation.
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  30. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2003). Are Our Best Physical Theories (Probably and/or Approximately) True? Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1206-1218.
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories are false: In addition to its own internal problems, the standard formulation of quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with special relativity. I will also argue that we have no concrete idea what it means to claim that these theories are approximately true.
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  31. Jeffrey A. Barrett & J. McKenzie Alexander (2002). PSA 2000 Symposium Paper Volume Introduction. Philosophy of Science 69 (S3).
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  32. Jeffrey A. Barrett & Frank Arntzenius (2002). Why the Infinite Decision Puzzle is Puzzling. Theory and Decision 52 (2):139-147.
    Pulier (2000, Theory and Decision 49: 291) and Machina (2000, Theory and Decision 49: 293) seek to dissolve the Barrett–Arntzenius infinite decision puzzle (1999, Theory and Decision 46: 101). The proposed dissolutions, however, are based on misunderstandings concerning how the puzzle works and the nature of supertasks more generally. We will describe the puzzle in a simplified form, address the recent misunderstandings, and describe possible morals for decision theory.
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  33. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2001). The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics Daniel F. Styer. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2):393-396.
  34. Jeffrey Alan Barrett, Toward a Pragmatic Account of Scientific Knowledge.
    Abstract: C. S. Peirce's psychological analysis of belief, doubt, and inquiry provides insights into the nature of scientific knowledge. These in turn can be used to construct an account of scientific knowledge where the notions of belief, truth, rational justification, and inquiry are determined by the relationships that must hold between these notions. I will describe this account of scientific knowledge and some of the problems it faces. I will also describe the close relationship between pragmatic and naturalized accounts of (...)
     
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  35. Daniel F. Styer & Jeffrey A. Barrett (2001). Reviews-The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2):393-396.
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  36. Jeffrey A. Barrett, On the Nature of Measurement Records in Relativistic Quantum Field Theory.
    A resolution of the quantum measurement problem would require one to explain how it is that we end up with determinate records at the end of our measurements. Metaphysical commitments typically do real work in such an explanation. Indeed, one should not be satisfied with one's metaphysical commitments unless one can provide some account of determinate measurement records. I will explain some of the problems in getting determinate records in relativistic quantum field theory and pay particular attention to the relationship (...)
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  37. Jeffrey A. Barrett (2000). The Persistence of Memory: Surreal Trajectories in Bohm's Theory. Philosophy of Science 67 (4):680-703.
    In this paper I describe the history of the surreal trajectories problem and argue that in fact it is not a problem for Bohm's theory. More specifically, I argue that one can take the particle trajectories predicted by Bohm's theory to be the actual trajectories that particles follow and that there is no reason to suppose that good particle detectors are somehow fooled in the context of the surreal trajectories experiments. Rather than showing that Bohm's theory predicts the wrong particle (...)
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  38. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1999). Book Review: Quantum Chance and Non-Locality, by Michael Dickson. [REVIEW] Foundations of Physics 29 (6):1011-1018.
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  39. Jeffrey Alan Barrett (1999). The Quantum Mechanics of Minds and Worlds. Oxford University Press.
    Jeffrey Barrett presents the most comprehensive study yet of a problem that has puzzled physicists and philosophers since the 1930s.
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  40. Jeffrey Barrett & Frank Arntzenius (1999). An Infinite Decision Puzzle. Theory and Decision 46 (1):101-103.
    We tell a story where an agent who chooses in such a way as to make the greatest possible profit on each of an infinite series of transactions ends up worse off than an agent who chooses in such a way as to make the least possible profit on each transaction. That is, contrary to what one might suppose, it is not necessarily rational always to choose the option that yields the greatest possible profit on each transaction.
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  41. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1997). On Everett's Formulation of Quantum Mechanics. The Monist 80 (1):70 - 96.
    Everett wanted a formulation of quantum mechanics that (i) took the linear dynamics to be a complete and accurate description of the time-evolution of all physical systems and (ii) logically entailed the same subjective appearances predicted by the standard formulation of quantum mechanics. While most everyone would agree with this description of Everett's project, there is little agreement on exactly how his relative-state formulation was supposed to work. In this paper, I consider two very different readings of Everett: the bare (...)
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  42. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1997). On the Nature of Experience in the Bare Theory. Synthese 113 (3):347-355.
    Quantum mechanics without the collapse postulate, the bare theory, was proposed by Albert (1992) as a way of understanding Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics. The basic idea is to try to account for an observer's beliefs by appealing to a type of illusion predicted by the bare theory. This paper responds to some recent objections to the bare theory by providing a more detailed description of the sense in which it can and the sense in which it cannot account (...)
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  43. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1996). Empirical Adequacy and the Availability of Reliable Records in Quantum Mechanics. Philosophy of Science 63 (1):49-64.
    In order to judge whether a theory is empirically adequate one must have epistemic access to reliable records of past measurement results that can be compared against the predictions of the theory. Some formulations of quantum mechanics fail to satisfy this condition. The standard theory without the collapse postulate is an example. Bell's reading of Everett's relative-state formulation is another. Furthermore, there are formulations of quantum mechanics that only satisfy this condition for a special class of observers, formulations whose empirical (...)
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  44. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1996). Oracles, Aesthetics, and Bayesian Consensus. Philosophy of Science 63 (3):280.
    In order for Bayesian inquiry to count as objective, one might argue that it must lead to a consensus among those who use it and share evidence, but presumably this is not enough. It has been proposed that one should also require that the consensus be reached from very different initial opinions by conditioning only on basic experimental evidence, evidence free from subjective, social, or psychological influence. I will argue here, however, that this notion of objectivity in Bayesian inquiry is (...)
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  45. David Z. Albert & Jeffrey A. Barrett (1995). On What It Takes to Be a World. Topoi 14 (1):35-37.
    A many-worlds interpretation is of quantum mechanics tells us that the linear equations of motion are the true and complete laws for the time-evolution of every physical system and that the usual quantum-mechanical states provide complete descriptions of all possible physical situations. Such an interpretation, however, denies the standard way of understanding quantum-mechanical states. When the pointer on a measuring device is in a superposition of pointing many different directions, for example, we are to understand this as many pointers, each (...)
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  46. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1995). Review of I. Ekeland, The Broken Dice, and Other Mathematical Tales of Chance. [REVIEW] Philosophia Mathematica 3 (3):310-313.
  47. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1995). Introduction. Topoi 14 (1):1-6.
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  48. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1995). Review: Daniel J. Velleman, How to Prove It. A Structed Approach. [REVIEW] Journal of Symbolic Logic 60 (4):1329-1330.
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  49. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1995). The Distribution Postulate in Bohm's Theory. Topoi 14 (1):45-54.
    On Bohm''s formulation of quantum mechanics particles always have determinate positions and follow continuous trajectories. Bohm''s theory, however, requires a postulate that says that particles are initially distributed in a special way: particles are randomly distributed so that the probability of their positions being represented by a point in any regionR in configuration space is equal to the square of the wave-function integrated overR. If the distribution postulate were false, then the theory would generally fail to make the right statistical (...)
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  50. Jeffrey A. Barrett (1995). The Single-Mind and Many-Minds Versions of Quantum Mechanics. Erkenntnis 42 (1):89 - 105.
    There is a long tradition of trying to find a satisfactory interpretation of Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics. Albert and Loewer recently described two new ways of reading Everett: one we will call the single-mind theory and the other the many-minds theory. I will briefly describe these theories and present some of their merits and problems. Since both are no-collapse theories, a significant merit is that they can take advantage of certain properties of the linear dynamics, which Everett (...)
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