What the Humean Should Say About Entanglement

Noûs 51 (1):74-94 (2017)
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Abstract

Tim Maudlin has influentially argued that Humeanism about laws of nature stands in conflict with quantum mechanics. Specifically Humeanism implies the principle Separability: the complete physical state of a world is determined by the intrinsic physical state of each space-time point. Maudlin argues Separability is violated by the entangled states posited by QM. We argue that Maudlin only establishes that a stronger principle, which we call Strong Separability, is in tension with QM. Separability is not in tension with QM. Moreover, while the Humean requires Separability to capture the core tenets of her view, there's no Humean-specific motivation for accepting Strong Separability. We go on to give a Humean account of entangled states which satisfies Separability. The core idea is that certain quantum states depend upon the Humean mosaic in much the same way as the laws do. In fact, we offer a variant of the Best System account on which the systemization procedure that generates the laws also serves to ground these states. We show how this account works by applying it to the example of Bohmian Mechanics. The 3N-dimensional configuration space, the world particle in it and the wave function on it are part of the best system of the Humean mosaic, which consists of N particles moving in 3-dimensional space. We argue that this account is superior to the Humean account of Bohmian Mechanics defended by Loewer and Albert, which takes the 3N-dimensional space, and its inhabitants, as fundamental.

Author Profiles

Harjit Bhogal
University of Maryland, College Park
Zee R. Perry
New York University, Shanghai

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