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Everett's "Many-Worlds" Proposal

Bevers, Brett (2011) Everett's "Many-Worlds" Proposal. [Published Article or Volume]


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Hugh Everett III proposed that a quantum measurement can be treated as an interaction that correlates microscopic and macroscopic systems—particularly when the experimenter herself is included among those macroscopic systems. It has been difficult, however, to determine precisely what this proposal amounts to. Almost without exception, commentators have held that there are ambiguities in Everett’s theory of measurement that result from significant—even embarrassing—omissions. In the present paper, we resist the conclusion that Everett’s proposal is incomplete, and we develop a close reading that accounts for apparent oversights. We begin by taking a look at how Everett set up his project—his method and his criterion of success. Illuminating parallels are found between Everett’s method and then-contemporary thought regarding inter-theoretic reduction. Also, from unpublished papers and correspondence, we are able to piece together how Everett judged the success of his theory of measurement, which completes our account of his intended contribution to the resolution of the quantum measurement problem.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Keywords: quantum measurement problem, Hugh Everett III, Many-Worlds Interpretation, preferred basis problem
Subjects: General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Theory Change
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Brett Bevers
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2011 23:28
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2011 23:28
Item ID: 8513
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Publisher: Elsevier
Official URL:

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