Objective Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics

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Abstract

David Wallace has given a decision-theoretic argument for the Born Rule in the context of Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM). This approach promises to resolve some long-standing problems with probability in EQM, but it has faced plenty of resistance. One kind of objection (the ‘incoherence problem’) charges that the requisite notion of decision-theoretic uncertainty is unavailable in the Everettian picture, so that the argument cannot gain any traction; another kind of objection grants the proof’s applicability and targets the premises. In this article I propose some novel principles connecting the physics of EQM with the metaphysics of modality, and argue that in the resulting framework the incoherence problem does not arise. These principles also help to justify one of the most controversial premises of Wallace’s argument, ‘branching indifference’. Absent any a priori reason to align the metaphysics with the physics in some other way, the proposed principles can be adopted on grounds of theoretical utility. The upshot is that Everettians can, after all, make clear sense of objective probability.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-737
Number of pages29
JournalThe British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Volume64
Issue number4
Early online date5 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013