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Everettian quantum mechanics without branching time

Wilson, Alastair (2012) Everettian quantum mechanics without branching time. Synthèse. (In Press)

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Identification Number/DOI: 10.1007/s11229-011-0048-9

In this paper I assess the prospects for combining contemporary Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM) with branching-time semantics in the tradition of Kripke, Prior, Thomason and Belnap. I begin by outlining the salient features of ‘decoherence-based’ EQM, and of the ’consistent histories’ formalism that is particularly apt for conceptual discussions in EQM. This formalism permits of both ‘branching worlds’and ‘parallel worlds’ interpretations; the metaphysics of EQM is in this sense underdetermined by the physics. A prominent argument due to David Lewis [1986] supports the non-branching interpretation. Belnap et al. [2001] refer to Lewis’ argument as the ’Assertion problem’, and propose a pragmatic response to it. I argue that their response is unattractively ad hoc and complex, and that it prevents an Everettian who adopts branching-time semantics from making clear sense of objective probability. The upshot is that Everettians are better off without branching-time semantics. I conclude by discussing and rejecting an alternative possible motivation for branching time.

Type of Work:Article
Date:2012 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Philosophy
Subjects:B Philosophy (General)
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Springer Verlag
ID Code:1127
Refereed:YES
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