The Probability Problem in Everettian Quantum Mechanics Persists


Authors
Foad Dizadji-Bahmani
California State University, Los Angeles
Abstract
Everettian quantum mechanics results in ‘multiple, emergent, branching quasi-classical realities’ . The possible outcomes of measurement as per ‘orthodox’ quantum mechanics are, in EQM, all instantiated. Given this metaphysics, Everettians face the ‘probability problem’—how to make sense of probabilities and recover the Born rule. To solve the probability problem, Wallace, following Deutsch , has derived a quantum representation theorem. I argue that Wallace’s solution to the probability problem is unsuccessful, as follows. First, I examine one of the axioms of rationality used to derive the theorem, ‘branching indifference’ . I argue that Wallace is not successful in showing that BI is rational. While I think it is correct to put the burden of proof on Wallace to motivate BI as an axiom of rationality, it does not follow from his failing to do so that BI is not rational. Thus, second, I show that there is an alternative strategy for setting one’s credences in the face of branching which is rational and which violates BI. This is ‘branch counting’ . Wallace is aware of BC and has proffered various arguments against it. However, third, I argue that Wallace’s arguments against BC are unpersuasive. I conclude that the probability problem in EQM persists. 1 Introduction2 Branching Indifference2.1 The positive argument for branching indifference2.2 The negative argument for branching indifference2.3 Branching indifference section summary3 Branch Counting3.1 Branch counting is rational under the subjective-uncertainty viewpoint3.2 Branch counting is rational under the objective-determinism viewpoint3.3 Branch counting section summary4 Number of Branches4.1 Veracity of the framework4.2 No such thing as the number of branches4.2.1 The number of branches is indeterminate4.2.2 The number of branches is indeterminable4.3 Rationality and weight5 Conclusion
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Reprint years 2015
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axt035
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Everettian Quantum Mechanics and Physical Probability: Against the Principle of “State Supervenience”.Lina Jansson - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 53:45-53.
The Problem of Confirmation in the Everett Interpretation.Emily Adlam - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 47:21-32.

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