How the Many Worlds Interpretation brings Common Sense to Paradoxical Quantum Experiments

In Rik Peels, Jeroen de Ridder & René van Woudenberg (eds.), Scientific Challenges to Common Sense Philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 40-60 (2020)
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The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (MWI) states that the world we live in is just one among many parallel worlds. It is widely believed that because of this commitment to parallel worlds, the MWI violates common sense. Some go so far as to reject the MWI on this basis. This is despite its myriad of advantages to physics (e.g. consistency with relativity theory, mathematical simplicity, realism, determinism, etc.). Here, we make the case that common sense in fact favors the MWI. We argue that causal explanations are commonsensical only when they are local causal explanations. We present several quantum mechanical experiments that seem to exhibit nonlocal “action at a distance”. Under the assumption that only one world exists, these experiments seem immune to local causal explanation. However, we show that the MWI, by taking all worlds together, can provide local causal explanations of the experiments. The MWI therefore restores common sense to physical explanation.

Author Profiles

Kelvin J. McQueen
Chapman University
Lev Vaidman
Tel Aviv University


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