Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory, and Reality

Paperback | June 12, 2012

EditorSimon Saunders, Jonathan Barrett, Adrian Kent

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What does realism about the quantum state imply? What follows when quantum theory is applied without restriction, if need be, to the whole universe? These are the questions which an illustrious team of philosophers and physicists debate in this volume. All the contributors are agreed onrealism, and on the need, or the aspiration, for a theory that unites micro- and macroworlds, at least in principle. But the further claim argued by some is that if you allow the Schrodinger equation unrestricted application, supposing the quantum state to be something physically real, then thisuniverse is one of countlessly many others, constantly branching in time, all of which are real. The result is the many worlds theory, also known as the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics.The contrary claim sees this picture of many worlds as in no sense inherent in quantum mechanics, even when the latter is allowed unrestricted scope and even given that the quantum state itself is something physically real. For this picture of branching worlds fails to make physical sense, let alonecommon sense, even on its own terms. The status of these worlds, what they are made of, is never adequately explained. Ordinary ideas about time and identity over time become hopelessly compromised. The concept of probability itself is brought into question. This picture of many branching worlds isinchoate, it is a vision, an error. There are realist alternatives to many worlds, some even that preserve the Schrodinger equation unchanged. Twenty specially written essays, accompanied by commentaries and discussions, examine these claims and counterclaims in depth. They focus first on the question of ontology, the existence of worlds (Part 1 and 2), second on the interpretation of probability (Parts 3 and 4), and third on alternativesor additions to many worlds (Parts 5 and 6). The introduction offers a helpful guide to the arguments for the Everett interpretation, particularly as they have been formulated in the last two decades.

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What does realism about the quantum state imply? What follows when quantum theory is applied without restriction, if need be, to the whole universe? These are the questions which an illustrious team of philosophers and physicists debate in this volume. All the contributors are agreed onrealism, and on the need, or the aspiration, for a...

Simon Saunders is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. Jon Barrett is a Research Fellow in the Physics department at the University of Bristol. Adrian Kent is a Reader in Quantum Physics at the University of Cambridge. David Wallace is a lecturer in Philosophy of Physics at the University of Oxford.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:640 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:June 12, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199655502

ISBN - 13:9780199655502

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Table of Contents

Simon Saunders: Many Worlds: an Introduction1. Why Many Worlds?1. David Wallace: Decoherence and Ontology2. Jim Hartle: Quasiclassical Realms3. Jonathan Halliwell: Macroscopic Superpositions, Decoherent Histories, and the Emergence of Hydrodynamical Behaviour2. Problems with Ontology4. Tim Maudlin: Can the world be only wavefunction?5. John Hawthorne: A metaphysician looks at the Everett interpretationJames Ladyman: Commentary. Reply to Hawthorne: Physics Before MetaphysicsTranscript 1: ontology3. Probability in the Everett Interpretation6. Simon Saunders: Chance in the Everett interpretation7. David Papineau: A Scandal of Probability Theory8. David Wallace: How to prove the Born rule9. Hilary Greaves and Wayne Myrvold: Everett and Evidence4. Critical Replies10. Adrian Kent: One World versus Many: the Inadequacy of Everettian Accounts of Evolution, Probability, and Scientific Confirmation11. David Albert: Probability in the Everett picture12. Huw Price: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: Can Savage Salvage Everettian Probability?Transcript 2: Probability5. Alternatives to Many Worlds13. Wojciech Zurek: Decoherence, Einselection, Envariance, and Quantum Darwinism: From Relative States to the Existential Interpretation14. Jeffrey Bub and Itamar Pitowsky: Two dogmas about quantum mechanicsChristopher Timpson: Commentary: Rabid Dogma? Comments on Bub and Pitowsky15. Rudiger Schack: The Principal Principle and Probability in the Many-Worlds interpretation16. Antony Valentini: Pilot-wave theory: many worlds in denial?Harvey Brown: Commentary: Reply to Valentini6. Not Only Many Worlds17. Peter Byrne: Everett and Wheeler, the Untold Story18. David Deutsch: Apart from universes19. Max Tegmark: Many Worlds in Context20. Lev Vaidman: Time Symmetry and the Many-Worlds InterpretationTranscript 3: Not (only) many worldsBibliography

Editorial Reviews

Review from previous edition: "written with great clarity by some of the best minds in contemporary foundations of physics ... a fine read, summarizing nicely the state of the art in one of the most radical no-collapse interpretations of quantum theory." l--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews