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Evidence and Uncertainty in Everett’s Multiverse

How does it come about then, that great scientists such as Einstein, Schrödinger and De Broglie are nevertheless dissatisfied with the situation? Of course, all these objections are levelled not against the correctness of the formulae, but against their interpretation. (…) The lesson to be learned from what I have told of the origin of quantum mechanics is that probable refinements of mathematical methods will not suffice to produce a satisfactory theory, but that somewhere in our doctrine is hidden a concept, unjustified by experience, which we must eliminate to open up the road. (Born ( 1954 ), pp. 8, 11) It is truly surprising how little difference all this makes. Most physicists use quantum mechanics every day in their working lives without needing to worry about the fundamental problem of its interpretation. (Weinberg ( 1992 ), p. 66) I endorse the view that it may be of no relevance to the acceptability of the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics as a physical theory whether or not an informed observer can be uncertain about the outcome of a quantum measurement prior to its having occurred. However, I suggest that the very possibility of post-measurement, pre-observation uncertainty has an essential role to play in both confirmation theory and decision theory in a branching universe. This is supported by arguments which do not appeal to van Fraassen’s Reflection Principle. 1 Dendritic Unitary Evolution 2 The Born–Vaidman Rule 3 Greaves on Uncertainty 4 Retroactive Counterfactual Uncertainty 5 Odds and Ends http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Oxford University Press

Evidence and Uncertainty in Everett’s Multiverse

Abstract

How does it come about then, that great scientists such as Einstein, Schrödinger and De Broglie are nevertheless dissatisfied with the situation? Of course, all these objections are levelled not against the correctness of the formulae, but against their interpretation. (…) The lesson to be learned from what I have told of the origin of quantum mechanics is that probable refinements of mathematical methods will not suffice to produce a satisfactory theory, but that somewhere in our doctrine is hidden a concept, unjustified by experience, which we must eliminate to open up the road. (Born ( 1954 ), pp. 8, 11) It is truly surprising how little difference all this makes. Most physicists use quantum mechanics every day in their working lives without needing to worry about the fundamental problem of its interpretation. (Weinberg ( 1992 ), p. 66) I endorse the view that it may be of no relevance to the acceptability of the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics as a physical theory whether or not an informed observer can be uncertain about the outcome of a quantum measurement prior to its having occurred. However, I suggest that the very possibility of post-measurement, pre-observation uncertainty has an essential role to play in both confirmation theory and decision theory in a branching universe. This is supported by arguments which do not appeal to van Fraassen’s Reflection Principle. 1 Dendritic Unitary Evolution 2 The Born–Vaidman Rule 3 Greaves on Uncertainty 4 Retroactive Counterfactual Uncertainty 5 Odds and Ends
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