Causality re-established

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Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A

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D'Ariano, Giacomo Mauro
Quantum Physics; Physics - History and Philosophy of Physics
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Causality never gained the status of a "law" or "principle" in physics. Some recent literature even popularized the false idea that causality is a notion that should be banned from theory. Such misconception relies on an alleged universality of reversibility of laws of physics, based either on determinism of classical theory, or on the multiverse interpretation of quantum theory, in both cases motivated by mere interpretational requirements for realism of the theory. Here, I will show that a properly defined unambiguous notion of causality is a theorem of quantum theory, which is also a falsifiable proposition of the theory. Such causality notion appeared in the literature within the framework of operational probabilistic theories. It is a genuinely theoretical notion, corresponding to establish a definite partial order among events, in the same way as we do by using the future causal cone on Minkowski space. The causality notion is logically completely independent of the misidentified concept of "determinism", and, being a consequence of quantum theory, is ubiquitous in physics. In addition, as classical theory can be regarded as a restriction of quantum theory, causality holds also in the classical case, although the determinism of the theory trivializes it. I then conclude arguing that causality naturally establishes an arrow of time. This implies that the scenario of the "Block Universe" and the connected "Past Hypothesis" are incompatible with causality, and thus with quantum theory: they both are doomed to remain mere interpretations and, as such, not falsifiable, similar to the hypothesis of "super-determinism". This article is part of a discussion meeting issue "Foundations of quantum mechanics and their impact on contemporary society".