Uncertainty and probability for branching selves

Peter Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Everettian accounts of quantum mechanics entail that people branch; every possible result of a measurement actually occurs, and I have one successor for each result. Is there room for probability in such an account? The prima facie answer is no; there are no ontic chances here, and no ignorance about what will happen. But since any adequate quantum mechanical theory must make probabilistic predictions, much recent philosophical labor has gone into trying to construct an account of probability for branching selves. One popular strategy involves arguing that branching selves introduce a new kind of subjective uncertainty. I argue here that the variants of this strategy in the literature all fail, either because the uncertainty is spurious, or because it is in the wrong place to yield probabilistic predictions. I conclude that uncertainty cannot be the ground for probability in Everettian quantum mechanics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2007

Fingerprint

quantum mechanics
labor
predictions
rooms
Uncertainty
Prediction
Quantum Mechanics
Labor
Ignorance
Successor

Keywords

  • Everett
  • Many worlds
  • Personal identity
  • Probability
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Uncertainty and probability for branching selves. / Lewis, Peter.

In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Vol. 38, No. 1, 03.2007, p. 1-14.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{6469a92bc609401e86c56e15d0815a52,
title = "Uncertainty and probability for branching selves",
abstract = "Everettian accounts of quantum mechanics entail that people branch; every possible result of a measurement actually occurs, and I have one successor for each result. Is there room for probability in such an account? The prima facie answer is no; there are no ontic chances here, and no ignorance about what will happen. But since any adequate quantum mechanical theory must make probabilistic predictions, much recent philosophical labor has gone into trying to construct an account of probability for branching selves. One popular strategy involves arguing that branching selves introduce a new kind of subjective uncertainty. I argue here that the variants of this strategy in the literature all fail, either because the uncertainty is spurious, or because it is in the wrong place to yield probabilistic predictions. I conclude that uncertainty cannot be the ground for probability in Everettian quantum mechanics.",
keywords = "Everett, Many worlds, Personal identity, Probability, Quantum mechanics, Uncertainty",
author = "Peter Lewis",
year = "2007",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1016/j.shpsb.2006.02.001",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "38",
pages = "1--14",
journal = "Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics",
issn = "1355-2198",
publisher = "Elsevier Limited",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Uncertainty and probability for branching selves

AU - Lewis, Peter

PY - 2007/3

Y1 - 2007/3

N2 - Everettian accounts of quantum mechanics entail that people branch; every possible result of a measurement actually occurs, and I have one successor for each result. Is there room for probability in such an account? The prima facie answer is no; there are no ontic chances here, and no ignorance about what will happen. But since any adequate quantum mechanical theory must make probabilistic predictions, much recent philosophical labor has gone into trying to construct an account of probability for branching selves. One popular strategy involves arguing that branching selves introduce a new kind of subjective uncertainty. I argue here that the variants of this strategy in the literature all fail, either because the uncertainty is spurious, or because it is in the wrong place to yield probabilistic predictions. I conclude that uncertainty cannot be the ground for probability in Everettian quantum mechanics.

AB - Everettian accounts of quantum mechanics entail that people branch; every possible result of a measurement actually occurs, and I have one successor for each result. Is there room for probability in such an account? The prima facie answer is no; there are no ontic chances here, and no ignorance about what will happen. But since any adequate quantum mechanical theory must make probabilistic predictions, much recent philosophical labor has gone into trying to construct an account of probability for branching selves. One popular strategy involves arguing that branching selves introduce a new kind of subjective uncertainty. I argue here that the variants of this strategy in the literature all fail, either because the uncertainty is spurious, or because it is in the wrong place to yield probabilistic predictions. I conclude that uncertainty cannot be the ground for probability in Everettian quantum mechanics.

KW - Everett

KW - Many worlds

KW - Personal identity

KW - Probability

KW - Quantum mechanics

KW - Uncertainty

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33847060823&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33847060823&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.shpsb.2006.02.001

DO - 10.1016/j.shpsb.2006.02.001

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:33847060823

VL - 38

SP - 1

EP - 14

JO - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics

JF - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics

SN - 1355-2198

IS - 1

ER -