Quantum Mechanics and Narratability

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Myrvold, Wayne C.
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As has been noted by several authors, in a relativistic context, there is an interesting difference between classical and quantum state evolution. For a classical system, a state history of a quantum system given along one foliation uniquely determines, without any consideration of the system's dynamics, a state history along any other foliation. This is not true for quantum state evolution; there are cases in which a state history along one foliation is compatible with multiple distinct state histories along some other, a phenomenon that David Albert has dubbed ``non-narratability.'' In this article, we address the question of whether non-narratability is restricted to the sorts of special states that so far have been used to illustrate it. The results of the investigation suggest that there has been a misplaced emphasis on underdetermination of state histories; though this is generic for the special cases that have up until now been considered, involving bipartite systems in pure entangled states, it fails generically in cases in which more component systems are taken into account, and for bipartite systems that have some entanglement with their environment. For such cases, if we impose relativistic causality constraints on the evolution, then, except for very special states, a state history along one foliation uniquely determines a state history along any other. But \emph{this in itself} is a marked difference between classical and quantum state evolution, because, in a classical setting, no considerations of dynamics at all are needed to go from a state history along one foliation to a state history along another.