Everettian quantum mechanics without branching time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

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.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-84
Number of pages18
JournalSynthese
Volume188
Issue number1
Early online date6 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012