A Prolegomenon to the Ontology of the Everett Interpretation

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Wallace, David
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In this article, I briefly explain the quantum measurement problem and the Everett (Many-Worlds) interpretation, in a way that is faithful to modern physics and yet accessible to readers without any physics training. I then consider the metaphysical lessons for ontology from quantum mechanics under the Everett interpretation. My conclusions are largely negative: I argue that very little can be said in full generality about the ontology of quantum mechanics, because quantum mechanics, like abstract classical mechanics, is a framework within which we can consider different physical theories which have very little in common at the level of ontology. Along the way I discuss, and criticise, several positive ontological proposals that have been made in the context of the Everett interpretation: ontologies based on the so-called "eigenstate-eigenvalue link", ontologies based on taking the "many-worlds" language seriously at the fundamental level, and ontologies that treat the wavefunction as a complex field on a high-dimensional space.