Superdeterminism: a reappraisal

Synthese 200 (5):1-20 (2022)
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Abstract

This paper addresses a particular interpretation of quantum mechanics, i.e. superdeterminism. In short, superdeterminism i) takes the world to be fundamentally deterministic, ii) postulates hidden variables, and iii) contra Bell, saves locality at the cost of violating the principle of statistical independence. Superdeterminism currently enjoys little support in the physics and philosophy communities. Many take it to posit the ubiquitous occurrence of hard-to-digest conspiratorial and coincidental events; others object that violating the principle of statistical independence implies the death of the scientific methodology. In this paper, we offer a defense to these and other objections. To counter the conspiracy objection, we draw upon the philosophical literature on time travel, and conclude that the picture of the world offered by the superdeterminist does not need to be particularly surprising or conspiratorial. We then move on to other recent objections, in particular those that focus on the methodology of science and the nature of the physical laws compatible with superdeterminism. A key ingredient of our arguments is that the principle of statistical independence may be violated in theory, but valid for practical purposes. Our overarching goal is to offer a defense of superdeterminism with respect to its main objections, so that it can earn its keep as a legitimate contender among the possible interpretations of quantum mechanics.

Author Profiles

Giacomo Andreoletti
University of Salzburg
Louis Vervoort
Université du Québec à Montreal

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