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Discuss Chapter 6 of Many Worlds by Saunders

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Which best describes your reaction to the arguments and claims in chapter 6 of Many Worlds??

utterly disagree
No votes
mostly disagree
No votes
mostly agree
utterly agree
No votes
Total votes: 1

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Discuss Chapter 6 of Many Worlds by Saunders

Post by Scott » July 21st, 2012, 2:17 am

Please use this topic to discuss Chance in the Everett Interpretation by Simon Saunders, which is chapter 6 of the July book of the month Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory, & Reality edited by Saunders, Barrett, Kent, Wallace. We are discussing this book chapter-by-chapter, including a discussion for the introduction and the transcript at the end. Please do not post in this topic until you have read chapter 6.


What do you think of this chapter? What do you think of Saunders' ideas and arguments? If you chose mostly disagree or utterly disagree for the poll, then on what specifically do you disagree with Saunders?

I find much of Saunders writing to be hard to follow, but perhaps some of that is because he is often the one in this book to introduce topics and ideas giving a foundation for which other chapters to use to be more understandable and flow more naturally. Saunders main points seemed to be about the nature of chance and probability and the semantic of that than about EQM. Indeed, he assumes EQM is true as a premise for this paper. I think I agree with his points about probability, namely in the way EQM is deterministic at the universal level even though it leads to epistemic-based probabilities in the everyday and classical senses. Also, I have to commend Saunders for bringing some clarity via exactness to a topic that is riddled with equivocations and semantic problems, by which I mean the issues of probability, chance and identification in regards to 'possible worlds' in the modal sense. I agree with Saunders when he writes:
Saunders wrote:That doesn't mean that amplitudes in general (and other relations in the Hilbert space norm) have no place in the foundations of EQM--on the contrary, they are part of the fundamental ontology--but their link to probability is indirect. It is simply a mistake, if this reduction is successful, to see quantum theory as at bottom a theory of probability.
In the middle of some other points, I think Saunders also make an interesting and correct observation about identity and probability that can have uses well outside the context of EQM:
Saunders wrote:But let us grant this much: he who believes he is a part of each of a number of worlds cannot also wonder which of them he's in.
That is a significant point because it wisely points out a dichotomy between one argument regarding identity and another regarding the epistemic issues that surround probability namely in terms of whether or not a person is meaningfully ignorant of something before they make a measurement that causes an apparent wave collapse and what exactly they learn after that.

One point I would have added to Saunders paper is about the way the Many Worlds interpretation is actually arguably a lot more appealing in regards to probability in quantum mechanics because it provides for a traditionally determinist universe whereas other interpretations seem to need to assert an ontological randomness which is not philosophically elegant to say the least. I personally do not subscribe to the Many Worlds interpretation or EQM, but I see it's elegance in regards to determinism to be its most favorable trait. (Perhaps this is a point that will be addressed in later chapters in this part of the book.)

Anyway, what do you all think?
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