Everett's “Many-Worlds” proposal

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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, ISSN: 1355-2198, Vol: 42, Issue: 1, Page: 3-12

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Brett Maynard Bevers
Elsevier BV; Elsevier
Arts and Humanities; Physics and Astronomy
article description
Hugh Everett III proposed that a quantum measurement can be treated as an interaction that correlates microscopic and macroscopic systems—particularly when the experimenter herself is included among those macroscopic systems. It has been difficult, however, to determine precisely what this proposal amounts to. Almost without exception, commentators have held that there are ambiguities in Everett's theory of measurement that result from significant—even embarrassing—omissions. In the present paper, we resist the conclusion that Everett's proposal is incomplete, and we develop a close reading that accounts for apparent oversights. We begin by taking a look at how Everett set up his project—his method and his criterion of success. Illuminating parallels are found between Everett's method and then-contemporary thought regarding inter-theoretic reduction. Also, from unpublished papers and correspondence, we are able to piece together how Everett judged the success of his theory of measurement, which completes our account of his intended contribution to the resolution of the quantum measurement problem.