Fundamentality and Levels in Everettian Quantum Mechanics

In Valia Allori (ed.), Quantum Mechanics and Fundamentality: Naturalizing Quantum Theory between Scientific Realism and Ontological Indeterminacy. Cham: Springer (2022)
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Abstract

Distinctions in fundamentality between different levels of description are central to the viability of contemporary decoherence-based Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM). This approach to quantum theory characteristically combines a determinate fundamental reality (one universal wave function) with an indeterminate emergent reality (multiple decoherent worlds). In this chapter I explore how the Everettian appeal to fundamentality and emergence can be understood within existing metaphysical frameworks, identify grounding and concept fundamentality as promising theoretical tools, and use them to characterize a system of explanatory levels (with associated laws of nature) for EQM. This Everettian level structure encompasses and extends the ‘classical’ levels structure. The ‘classical’ levels of physics, chemistry, biology, etc. are recovered, but they are emergent in character and potentially variable across Everett worlds. EQM invokes an additional fundamental level, not present in the classical levels picture, and a novel potential role for self-location in interlevel metaphysics. When given a modal realist interpretation, EQM also makes trouble for supervenience-based approaches to levels.

Author's Profile

Alastair Wilson
University of Leeds

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