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Eddy Keming Chen
University of California, San Diego
  1. Our Fundamental Physical Space: An Essay on the Metaphysics of the Wave Function.Eddy Keming Chen - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (7):333-365.
    The mathematical structure of realist quantum theories has given rise to a debate about how our ordinary 3-dimensional space is related to the 3N-dimensional configuration space on which the wave function is defined. Which of the two spaces is our (more) fundamental physical space? I review the debate between 3N-Fundamentalists and 3D-Fundamentalists and evaluate it based on three criteria. I argue that when we consider which view leads to a deeper understanding of the physical world, especially given the deeper topological (...)
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  2. Surreal Decisions.Eddy Keming Chen & Daniel Rubio - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (1):54-74.
    Although expected utility theory has proven a fruitful and elegant theory in the finite realm, attempts to generalize it to infinite values have resulted in many paradoxes. In this paper, we argue that the use of John Conway's surreal numbers shall provide a firm mathematical foundation for transfinite decision theory. To that end, we prove a surreal representation theorem and show that our surreal decision theory respects dominance reasoning even in the case of infinite values. We then bring our theory (...)
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  3. Nomic Vagueness.Eddy Keming Chen - manuscript
    If there are fundamental laws of nature, can they fail to be exact? In this paper, I consider the possibility that some fundamental laws are vague. I call this phenomenon nomic vagueness. I propose to characterize nomic vagueness as the existence of borderline lawful worlds. The existence of nomic vagueness raises interesting questions about the mathematical expressibility and metaphysical status of fundamental laws. For a case study, we turn to the Past Hypothesis, a postulate that (partially) explains the direction of (...)
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  4.  91
    Realism About the Wave Function.Eddy Keming Chen - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (7).
    A century after the discovery of quantum mechanics, the meaning of quantum mechanics still remains elusive. This is largely due to the puzzling nature of the wave function, the central object in quantum mechanics. If we are realists about quantum mechanics, how should we understand the wave function? What does it represent? What is its physical meaning? Answering these questions would improve our understanding of what it means to be a realist about quantum mechanics. In this survey article, I review (...)
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  5.  76
    Bell’s Theorem, Quantum Probabilities, and Superdeterminism.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Physics. Routledge.
    In this short survey article, I discuss Bell’s theorem and some strategies that attempt to avoid the conclusion of non-locality. I focus on two that intersect with the philosophy of probability: (1) quantum probabilities and (2) superdeterminism. The issues they raised not only apply to a wide class of no-go theorems about quantum mechanics but are also of general philosophical interest.
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  6. From Time Asymmetry to Quantum Entanglement: The Humean Unification.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Two of the most difficult problems in the foundations of physics are (1) what gives rise to the arrow of time and (2) what the ontology of quantum mechanics is. I propose a unified 'Humean' solution to the two problems. Humeanism allows us to incorporate the Past Hypothesis and the Statistical Postulate into the best system, which we then use to simplify the quantum state of the universe. This enables us to confer the nomological status to the quantum state in (...)
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  7.  48
    Welcome to the Fuzzy-Verse.Eddy Keming Chen - 2020 - New Scientist 247 (3298):36-40.
    We expect the laws of nature that describe the universe to be exact, but what if that isn't true? In this popular science article, I discuss the possibility that some candidate fundamental laws of nature, such as the Past Hypothesis, may be vague. This possibility is in conflict with the idea that the fundamental laws of nature can always and faithfully be described by classical mathematics. -/- [Bibliographic note: this article is featured on the magazine website under a different title (...)
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  8. Quantum Mechanics in a Time-Asymmetric Universe: On the Nature of the Initial Quantum State.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy068.
    In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, we postulate a low-entropy boundary condition to account for the temporal asymmetry. In this paper, I show that the Past Hypothesis also contains enough information to simplify the quantum ontology and define a unique initial condition in such a world. First, I introduce Density Matrix Realism, the thesis that the quantum universe is described by a fundamental density matrix that represents something objective. This stands in sharp contrast to Wave Function (...)
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  9. Time's Arrow in a Quantum Universe: On the Status of Statistical Mechanical Probabilities.Eddy Keming Chen - 2020 - In Valia Allori (ed.), Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature. World Scientific. pp. 479–515.
    In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, it is standard to postulate that the initial wave function started in a particular macrostate---the special low-entropy macrostate selected by the Past Hypothesis. Moreover, there is an additional postulate about statistical mechanical probabilities according to which the initial wave function is a ''typical'' choice in the macrostate. Together, they support a probabilistic version of the Second Law of Thermodynamics: typical initial wave functions will increase in entropy. Hence, there are two (...)
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  10. An Intrinsic Theory of Quantum Mechanics: Progress in Field's Nominalistic Program, Part I.Eddy Keming Chen - 2017
    In this paper, I introduce an intrinsic account of the quantum state. This account contains three desirable features that the standard platonistic account lacks: (1) it does not refer to any abstract mathematical objects such as complex numbers, (2) it is independent of the usual arbitrary conventions in the wave function representation, and (3) it explains why the quantum state has its amplitude and phase degrees of freedom. -/- Consequently, this account extends Hartry Field’s program outlined in Science Without Numbers (...)
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  11. The Cosmic Void.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Sara Bernstein & Tyron Goldschmidt (eds.), Non-Being: New Essays on the Metaphysics of Nonexistence. Oxford University Press.
    What exists at the fundamental level of reality? On the standard picture, the fundamental reality contains (among other things) fundamental matter, such as particles, fields, or even the quantum state. Non-fundamental facts are explained by facts about fundamental matter, at least in part. In this paper, I introduce a non-standard picture called the "cosmic void” in which the universe is devoid of any fundamental material ontology. Facts about tables and chairs are recovered from a special kind of laws that satisfy (...)
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  12. The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg & Brad Weslake (eds.), Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World. Harvard University Press.
    If the Past Hypothesis underlies the arrows of time, what is the status of the Past Hypothesis? In this paper, I examine the role of the Past Hypothesis in the Boltzmannian account and defend the view that the Past Hypothesis is a candidate fundamental law of nature. Such a view is known to be compatible with Humeanism about laws, but as I argue it is also supported by a minimal non-Humean "governing'' view. Some worries arise from the non-dynamical and time-dependent (...)
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  13. The Quantum Revolution in Philosophy. [REVIEW]Eddy Keming Chen - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (2):302-308.
    In this thought-provoking book, Richard Healey proposes a new interpretation of quantum theory inspired by pragmatist philosophy. Healey puts forward the interpretation as an alternative to realist quantum theories on the one hand such as Bohmian mechanics, spontaneous collapse theories, and many-worlds interpretations, which are different proposals for describing what the quantum world is like and what the basic laws of physics are, and non-realist interpretations on the other hand such as quantum Bayesianism, which proposes to understand quantum theory as (...)
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