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Everettian probabilities, the Deutsch-Wallace theorem and the Principal Principle

Brown, Harvey R. and Ben Porath, Gal (2020) Everettian probabilities, the Deutsch-Wallace theorem and the Principal Principle. Springer International Publishing.

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Abstract

This paper is concerned with the nature of probability in physics, and in quantum mechanics in particular. It starts with a brief discussion of the evolution of Itamar Pitowsky's thinking about probability in quantum theory from 1994 to 2008, and the role of Gleason's 1957 theorem in his derivation of the Born Rule. Pitowsky's defence of probability therein as a logic of partial belief leads us into a broader discussion of probability in physics, in which the existence of objective "chances'' is questioned, and the status of David Lewis’ influential Principal Principle is critically examined. This is followed by a sketch of the work by David Deutsch and David Wallace which resulted in the Deutsch-Wallace (DW) theorem in Everettian quantum mechanics. It is noteworthy that the authors of this important decision-theoretic derivation of the Born Rule have different views concerning the meaning of probability. The theorem, which was the subject of a 2007 critique by Meir Hemmo and Pitowsky, is critically examined, along with recent related work by John Earman. Here our main argument is that the DW theorem does not provide a justification of the Principal Principle, contrary to the claims by Wallace and Simon Saunders. A final section analyses recent claims to the effect that the DW theorem is redundant, a conclusion that seems to be reinforced by consideration of probabilities in ``deviant'' branches of the Everettian multiverse.


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Item Type: Other
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Brown, Harvey R.
Ben Porath, Gal
Keywords: probability, Everett, Deutsch-Wallace theorem, Principal Principle
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Prof Harvey R Brown
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2019 12:15
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2019 12:15
Item ID: 16717
Journal or Publication Title: M. Hemmo, O. Shenker (eds.), Quantum, Probability, Logic: Itamar Pitowsky's Work and Influence, Jerusalem Studies in Philosophy and History of Science
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Official URL: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030343156
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-34316-3
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Date: 2020
ISSN: 2524-4248
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16717

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