The quantum doomsday argument

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Abstract

If the most familiar overlapping interpretation of Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM) is correct, then we are constantly splitting into multiple people. This consequence gives rise to the quantum doomsday argument, which threatens to draw crippling epistemic consequences from EQM. However, a diverging (ʻparallel universeʼ) interpretation of EQM undermines the quantum doomsday argument completely. This appears to tell in favour of the diverging interpretation. But it is surprising that a metaphysical question that is apparently underdetermined by the physics should be settled by purely epistemological considerations; and I argue that the argument for divergence based on the quantum doomsday effect is ultimately unsuccessful. I discuss how some influential treatments of Everettian confirmation handle the quantum doomsday puzzle, and suggest that it can most satisfyingly be resolved via a naturalistic approach to the metaphysics of modality.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Early online date19 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017