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One World versus Many: the Inadequacy of Everettian Accounts of Evolution, Probability, and Scientific Confirmation

In Simon Saunders, Jonathan Barrett, Adrian Kent & David Wallace (eds.), Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory & Reality. Oxford University Press (2010)

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  1. Everett’s Missing Postulate and the Born Rule.Per Arve - 2020 - Foundations of Physics 50 (7):665-692.
    Everett’s Relative State Interpretation has gained increasing interest due to the progress of understanding the role of decoherence. In order to fulfill its promise as a realistic description of the physical world, two postulates are formulated. In short they are for a system with continuous coordinates \, discrete variable j, and state \\), the density \=|\psi _j|^2\) gives the distribution of the location of the system with the respect to the variables \ and j; an equation of motion for the (...)
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  • Multiplicity in Everett׳s Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Louis Marchildon - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):274-284.
  • Assessing the Montevideo Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Jeremy Butterfield - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part A):75-85.
    This paper gives a philosophical assessment of the Montevideo interpretation of quantum theory, advocated by Gambini, Pullin and co-authors. This interpretation has the merit of linking its proposal about how to solve the measurement problem to the search for quantum gravity: namely by suggesting that quantum gravity makes for fundamental limitations on the accuracy of clocks, which imply a type of decoherence that “collapses the wave-packet”. I begin by sketching the topics of decoherence, and quantum clocks, on which the interpretation (...)
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  • Ψ-Epistemic Quantum Cosmology?Peter W. Evans, Sean Gryb & Karim P. Y. Thébault - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 56:1-12.
    This paper provides a prospectus for a new way of thinking about the wavefunction of the universe: a Ψ-epistemic quantum cosmology. We present a proposal that, if successfully implemented, would resolve the cosmological measurement problem and simultaneously allow us to think sensibly about probability and evolution in quantum cosmology. Our analysis draws upon recent work on the problem of time in quantum gravity and causally symmet- ric local hidden variable theories. Our conclusion weighs the strengths and weaknesses of the approach (...)
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  • The Logic of Experimental Tests, Particularly of Everettian Quantum Theory.David Deutsch - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 55:24-33.
  • What Does It Feel Like to Be in a Quantum Superposition?Shan Gao - unknown
    We suggest a new answer to this intriguing question and argue that the answer may have implications for the solutions to the measurement problem. The main basis of our analysis is the doctrine of psychophysical supervenience. First of all, based on this doctrine, we argue that an observer in a quantum superposition or a quantum observer has a definite conscious experience, which is neither disjunctive nor illusive. The inconsistency of this result with the bare theory is further analyzed, and it (...)
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  • Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.Lev Vaidman - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) is an approach to quantum mechanics according to which, in addition to the world we are aware of directly, there are many other similar worlds which exist in parallel at the same space and time. The existence of the other worlds makes it possible to remove randomness and action at a distance from quantum theory and thus from all physics.
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  • Objective Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics.A. Wilson - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):709-737.
    David Wallace has given a decision-theoretic argument for the Born Rule in the context of Everettian quantum mechanics. This approach promises to resolve some long-standing problems with probability in EQM, but it has faced plenty of resistance. One kind of objection charges that the requisite notion of decision-theoretic uncertainty is unavailable in the Everettian picture, so that the argument cannot gain any traction; another kind of objection grants the proof’s applicability and targets the premises. In this article I propose some (...)
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  • Against the Empirical Viability of the Deutsch–Wallace–Everett Approach to Quantum Mechanics.Richard Dawid & Karim P. Y. Thébault - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 47:55-61.
    The subjective Everettian approach to quantum mechanics presented by Deutsch and Wallace fails to constitute an empirically viable theory of quantum phenomena. The decision theoretic implementation of the Born rule realized in this approach provides no basis for rejecting Everettian quantum mechanics in the face of empirical data that contradicts the Born rule. The approach of Greaves and Myrvold, which provides a subjective implementation of the Born rule as well but derives it from empirical data rather than decision theoretic arguments, (...)
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  • Can Everett Be Interpreted Without Extravaganza?Louis Marchildon - 2011 - Foundations of Physics 41 (3):357-362.
    Everett’s relative states interpretation of quantum mechanics has met with problems related to probability, the preferred basis, and multiplicity. The third theme, I argue, is the most important one. It has led to developments of the original approach into many-worlds, many-minds, and decoherence-based approaches. The latter especially have been advocated in recent years, in an effort to understand multiplicity without resorting to what is often perceived as extravagant constructions. Drawing from and adding to arguments of others, I show that proponents (...)
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  • Interpreting the Quantum Mechanics of Cosmology.David Wallace - forthcoming - In A. Ijjas & B. Loewer (eds.), Philosophy of Cosmology: an Introduction. Oxford University Press.
    Quantum theory plays an increasingly significant role in contemporary early-universe cosmology, most notably in the inflationary origins of the fluctuation spectrum of the microwave background radiation. I consider the two main strategies for interpreting standard quantum mechanics in the light of cosmology. I argue that the conceptual difficulties of the approaches based around an irreducible role for measurement - already very severe - become intolerable in a cosmological context, whereas the approach based around Everett's original idea of treating quantum systems (...)
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  • Probability in Physics: Stochastic, Statistical, Quantum.David Wallace - unknown
    I review the role of probability in contemporary physics and the origin of probabilistic time asymmetry, beginning with the pre-quantum case but concentrating on quantum theory. I argue that quantum mechanics radically changes the pre-quantum situation and that the philosophical nature of objective probability in physics, and of probabilistic asymmetry in time, is dependent on the correct resolution of the quantum measurement problem.
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  • QBism, the Perimeter of Quantum Bayesianism.Christopher A. Fuchs - manuscript
    This article summarizes the Quantum Bayesian point of view of quantum mechanics, with special emphasis on the view's outer edges---dubbed QBism. QBism has its roots in personalist Bayesian probability theory, is crucially dependent upon the tools of quantum information theory, and most recently, has set out to investigate whether the physical world might be of a type sketched by some false-started philosophies of 100 years ago (pragmatism, pluralism, nonreductionism, and meliorism). Beyond conceptual issues, work at Perimeter Institute is focused on (...)
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  • Many Worlds: Decoherent or Incoherent?Karim P. Y. Thébault & Richard Dawid - 2015 - Synthese 192 (5):1559-1580.
    We claim that, as it stands, the Deutsch–Wallace–Everett approach to quantum theory is conceptually incoherent. This charge is based upon the approach’s reliance upon decoherence arguments that conflict with its own fundamental precepts regarding probabilistic reasoning in two respects. This conceptual conflict obtains even if the decoherence arguments deployed are aimed merely towards the establishment of certain ‘emergent’ or ‘robust’ structures within the wave function: To be relevant to physical science notions such as robustness must be empirically grounded, and, on (...)
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  • The Everett Interpretation.David Wallace - unknown
    The Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics - better known as the Many-Worlds Theory - has had a rather uneven reception. Mainstream philosophers have scarcely heard of it, save as science fiction. In philosophy of physics it is well known but has historically been fairly widely rejected. Among physicists, it is taken very seriously indeed, arguably tied for first place in popularity with more traditional operationalist views of quantum mechanics. In this article, I provide a fairly short and self-contained introduction to (...)
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  • The Measurement Problem Revisited.Shan Gao - unknown
    It has been realized that in order to solve the measurement problem, the physical state representing the measurement result is required to be also the physical state on which the mental state of an observer supervenes. This introduces an additional restriction on the solutions to the measurement problem. In this paper, I give a new formulation of the measurement problem which lays more stress on psychophysical connection, and analyze whether Everett's theory, Bohm's theory and dynamical collapse theories can satisfy the (...)
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  • The Meaning of the Wave Function: In Search of the Ontology of Quantum Mechanics.Shan Gao - unknown
    The meaning of the wave function has been a hot topic of debate since the early days of quantum mechanics. Recent years have witnessed a growing interest in this long-standing question. Is the wave function ontic, directly representing a state of reality, or epistemic, merely representing a state of knowledge, or something else? If the wave function is not ontic, then what, if any, is the underlying state of reality? If the wave function is indeed ontic, then exactly what physical (...)
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  • Epistemic Separability and Everettian Branches: A Critique of Sebens and Carroll.Richard Dawid & Simon Friederich - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axaa002.
    We discuss the proposal by Sebens and Carroll to derive the Born rule in Everettian quantum mechanics from a principle they call ‘ESP-QM’. We argue that the proposal fails: ESP-QM is not, as Sebens and Carroll argue, a ‘less general version’ of an independently plausible principle, ESP, and can only be motivated by the empirical success of quantum mechanics, including use of the Born rule. Therefore, ESP-QM cannot have the status of a meta-theoretical principle of reasoning and provides no viable (...)
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  • Nonlocality Versus Modified Realism.Hervé Zwirn - 2020 - Foundations of Physics 50 (1):1-26.
    A large number of physicists now admit that quantum mechanics is a non-local theory. The EPR argument and the many experiments showing the violation of Bell’s inequalities seem to have confirmed convincingly that quantum mechanics cannot be local. Nevertheless, this conclusion can only be drawn inside a standard realist framework assuming an ontic interpretation of the wave function and viewing the collapse of the wave function as a real change of the physical state of the system. We show that this (...)
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  • Analysis of Wallace’s Proof of the Born Rule in Everettian Quantum Mechanics: Formal Aspects.André L. G. Mandolesi - 2018 - Foundations of Physics 48 (7):751-782.
    To solve the probability problem of the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, D. Wallace has presented a formal proof of the Born rule via decision theory, as proposed by D. Deutsch. The idea is to get subjective probabilities from rational decisions related to quantum measurements, showing the non-probabilistic parts of the quantum formalism, plus some rational constraints, ensure the squared modulus of quantum amplitudes play the role of such probabilities. We provide a new presentation of Wallace’s proof, reorganized to (...)
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  • Analysis of Wallace’s Proof of the Born Rule in Everettian Quantum Mechanics II: Concepts and Axioms.André L. G. Mandolesi - 2019 - Foundations of Physics 49 (1):24-52.
    Having analyzed the formal aspects of Wallace’s proof of the Born rule, we now discuss the concepts and axioms upon which it is built. Justification for most axioms is shown to be problematic, and at times contradictory. Some of the problems are caused by ambiguities in the concepts used. We conclude the axioms are not reasonable enough to be taken as mandates of rationality in Everettian Quantum Mechanics. This invalidates the interpretation of Wallace’s result as meaning it would be rational (...)
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  • Probability in Two Deterministic Universes.Mateus Araújo - 2019 - Foundations of Physics 49 (3):202-231.
    How can probabilities make sense in a deterministic many-worlds theory? We address two facets of this problem: why should rational agents assign subjective probabilities to branching events, and why should branching events happen with relative frequencies matching their objective probabilities. To address the first question, we generalise the Deutsch–Wallace theorem to a wide class of many-world theories, and show that the subjective probabilities are given by a norm that depends on the dynamics of the theory: the 2-norm in the usual (...)
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  • Real World Interpretations of Quantum Theory.Adrian Kent - 2012 - Foundations of Physics 42 (3):421-435.
    I propose a new class of interpretations, real world interpretations, of the quantum theory of closed systems. These interpretations postulate a preferred factorization of Hilbert space and preferred projective measurements on one factor. They give a mathematical characterisation of the different possible worlds arising in an evolving closed quantum system, in which each possible world corresponds to a (generally mixed) evolving quantum state. In a realistic model, the states corresponding to different worlds should be expected to tend towards orthogonality as (...)
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  • On the Consistency of the Consistent Histories Approach to Quantum Mechanics.Elias Okon & Daniel Sudarsky - 2014 - Foundations of Physics 44 (1):19-33.
    The Consistent Histories (CH) formalism aims at a quantum mechanical framework which could be applied even to the universe as a whole. CH stresses the importance of histories for quantum mechanics, as opposed to measurements, and maintains that a satisfactory formulation of quantum mechanics allows one to assign probabilities to alternative histories of a quantum system. It further proposes that each realm, that is, each set of histories to which probabilities can be assigned, provides a valid quantum-mechanical account, but that (...)
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  • The Consistent Histories Formalism and the Measurement Problem.Elias Okon & Daniel Sudarsky - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):217-222.
    In response to a recent rebuttal of Okon and Sudarsky presented in Griffiths, we defend the claim that the Consistent Histories formulation of quantum mechanics does not solve the measurement problem. In order to do so, we argue that satisfactory solutions to the problem must not only not contain anthropomorphic terms at the fundamental level, but also that applications of the formalism to concrete situations should not require any input not contained in the description of the situation at hand at (...)
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  • Maudlin׳s Challenge Refuted: A Reply to Lewis.Ruth E. Kastner - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 47:15-20.
    Lewis has recently argued that Maudlin׳s contingent absorber experiment remains a significant problem for the Transactional Interpretation. He argues that the only straightforward way to resolve the challenge is by describing the absorbers as offer waves, and asserts that this is a previously unnoticed aspect of the challenge for TI. This argument is refuted in two basic ways: it is noted that the Maudlin experiment cannot be meaningfully recast with absorbers described by quantum states; instead the author replaces it with (...)
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  • Has the Born Rule Been Proven?Jerry Finkelstein - unknown
    This note is a somewhat-lighthearted comment on a recent paper by David Wallace entitled "A formal proof of the Born rule from decision-theoretic assumptions".
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