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A Prolegomenon to the Ontology of the Everett Interpretation

Wallace, David (2011) A Prolegomenon to the Ontology of the Everett Interpretation. [Preprint]

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    In this article, I briefly explain the quantum measurement problem and the Everett (Many-Worlds) interpretation, in a way that is faithful to modern physics and yet accessible to readers without any physics training. I then consider the metaphysical lessons for ontology from quantum mechanics under the Everett interpretation. My conclusions are largely negative: I argue that very little can be said in full generality about the ontology of quantum mechanics, because quantum mechanics, like abstract classical mechanics, is a framework within which we can consider different physical theories which have very little in common at the level of ontology. Along the way I discuss, and criticise, several positive ontological proposals that have been made in the context of the Everett interpretation: ontologies based on the so-called "eigenstate-eigenvalue link", ontologies based on taking the "many-worlds" language seriously at the fundamental level, and ontologies that treat the wavefunction as a complex field on a high-dimensional space.

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: To appear in A. Ney and D. Z. Albert (ed.), "The Wave Function: Essays in the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics", forthcoming.
    Keywords: Quantum theory Everett interpretation Many-Worlds Interpretation Metaphysics Ontology Configuration Space
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
    Depositing User: David Wallace
    Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2011 21:00
    Last Modified: 09 Nov 2011 21:00
    Item ID: 8892

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