Local Causality and Completeness: Bell vs. Jarrett [Book Review]

Foundations of Physics 39 (3):273-294 (2009)
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Abstract

J.S. Bell believed that his famous theorem entailed a deep and troubling conflict between the empirically verified predictions of quantum theory and the notion of local causality that is motivated by relativity theory. Yet many physicists continue to accept, usually on the reports of textbook writers and other commentators, that Bell’s own view was wrong, and that, in fact, the theorem only brings out a conflict with determinism or the hidden-variables program or realism or some other such principle that (unlike local causality), allegedly, nobody should have believed anyway. Moreover, typically such beliefs arise without the person in question even being aware that the view they are accepting differs so radically from Bell’s own. Here we try to shed some light on the situation by focusing on the concept of local causality that is the heart of Bell’s theorem, and, in particular, by contrasting Bell’s own understanding with the analysis of Jon Jarrett which has been the most influential source, in recent decades, for the kinds of claims mentioned previously. We point out a crucial difference between Jarrett’s and Bell’s own understanding of Bell’s formulation of local causality, which turns out to be the basis for the erroneous claim, made by Jarrett and many others, that Bell misunderstood the implications of his own theorem

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