How the Many Worlds Interpretation brings Common Sense to Paradoxical Quantum Experiments

In Rik Peels, Jeroen de Ridder & René van Woudenberg (eds.), Scientific Challenges to Common Sense Philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 40-60 (2020)
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Abstract

The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (MWI) states that the world we live in is just one among many parallel worlds. It is widely believed that because of this commitment to parallel worlds, the MWI violates common sense. Some go so far as to reject the MWI on this basis. This is despite its myriad of advantages to physics (e.g. consistency with relativity theory, mathematical simplicity, realism, determinism, etc.). Here, we make the case that common sense in fact favors the MWI. We argue that causal explanations are commonsensical only when they are local causal explanations. We present several quantum mechanical experiments that seem to exhibit nonlocal “action at a distance”. Under the assumption that only one world exists, these experiments seem immune to local causal explanation. However, we show that the MWI, by taking all worlds together, can provide local causal explanations of the experiments. The MWI therefore restores common sense to physical explanation.

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Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.Lev Vaidman - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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Author Profiles

Kelvin J. McQueen
Chapman University
Lev Vaidman
Tel Aviv University

Citations of this work

Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.Lev Vaidman - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Reformulating Bell's theorem: The search for a truly local quantum theory.Mordecai Waegell & Kelvin J. McQueen - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 70:39-50.

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References found in this work

Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.Lev Vaidman - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
In defence of the self-location uncertainty account of probability in the many-worlds interpretation.Kelvin J. McQueen & Lev Vaidman - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 66 (C):14-23.
Newton on Action at a Distance.Steffen Ducheyne - 2014 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4):675-701.
On the Paradoxical Aspects of New Quantum Experiments.Lev Vaidman - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:211 - 217.

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