•  63
    Pure wave mechanics and the very idea of empirical adequacy
    Synthese 192 (10): 3071-3104. 2015.
    Hugh Everett III proposed his relative-state formulation of pure wave mechanics as a solution to the quantum measurement problem. He sought to address the theory’s determinate record and probability problems by showing that, while counterintuitive, pure wave mechanics was nevertheless empirically faithful and hence empirical acceptable. We will consider what Everett meant by empirical faithfulness. The suggestion will be that empirical faithfulness is well understood as a weak variety of empiric…Read more
  •  137
    On the Faithful Interpretation of Pure Wave Mechanics
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4): 693-709. 2011.
    Given Hugh Everett III's understanding of the proper cognitive status of physical theories, his relative-state formulation of pure wave mechanics arguably qualifies as an empirically acceptable physical theory. The argument turns on the precise nature of the relationship that Everett requires between the empirical substructure of an empirically faithful physical theory and experience. On this view, Everett provides a weak resolution to both the determinate record and the probability problems enc…Read more
  •  503
    There is a long tradition of trying to find a satisfactory interpretation of Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics. Albert and Loewer recently described two new ways of reading Everett: one we will call the single-mind theory and the other the many-minds theory. I will briefly describe these theories and present some of their merits and problems. Since both are no-collapse theories, a significant merit is that they can take advantage of certain properties of the linear dynami…Read more
  •  67
    In order to judge whether a theory is empirically adequate one must have epistemic access to reliable records of past measurement results that can be compared against the predictions of the theory. Some formulations of quantum mechanics fail to satisfy this condition. The standard theory without the collapse postulate is an example. Bell's reading of Everett's relative-state formulation is another. Furthermore, there are formulations of quantum mechanics that only satisfy this condition for a sp…Read more
  •  36
    The Evolution of Simple Rule-Following
    Biological Theory 8 (2): 142-150. 2013.
    We are concerned here with explaining how successful rule-following behavior might evolve and how an old evolved rule might come to be successfully used in a new context. Such rule-following behavior is illustrated in the transitive judgments of pinyon and scrub-jays (Bond et al., Anim Behav 65:479–487, 2003). We begin by considering how successful transitive rule-following behavior might evolve in the context of Skyrms–Lewis sender–receiver games (Lewis, Convention. Harvard University Press, Ca…Read more
  •  186
    Are our best physical theories (probably and/or approximately) true?
    Philosophy of Science 70 (5): 1206-1218. 2003.
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories are false: In addition to its own internal problems, the standard formulation of quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with special relativity. I will also argue that we have no concrete idea what it means to claim that these theories are approximately true
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  •  41
    On the Coevolution of Basic Arithmetic Language and Knowledge
    Erkenntnis 78 (5): 1025-1036. 2013.
    Skyrms-Lewis sender-receiver games with invention allow one to model how a simple mathematical language might be invented and become meaningful as its use coevolves with the basic arithmetic competence of primitive mathematical inquirers. Such models provide sufficient conditions for the invention and evolution of a very basic sort of arithmetic language and practice, and, in doing so, provide insight into the nature of a correspondingly basic sort of mathematical knowledge in an evolutionary co…Read more
  •  107
    Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
    Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics is an attempt to solve the measurement problem by dropping the collapse dynamics from the standard von Neumann-Dirac theory of quantum mechanics. The main problem with Everett's theory is that it is not at all clear how it is supposed to work. In particular, while it is clear that he wanted to explain why we get determinate measurement results in the context of his theory, it is unclear how he intended to do this. There have been many att…Read more
  •  63
    The persistence of memory: Surreal trajectories in Bohm's theory
    Philosophy of Science 67 (4): 680-703. 2000.
    In this paper I describe the history of the surreal trajectories problem and argue that in fact it is not a problem for Bohm's theory. More specifically, I argue that one can take the particle trajectories predicted by Bohm's theory to be the actual trajectories that particles follow and that there is no reason to suppose that good particle detectors are somehow fooled in the context of the surreal trajectories experiments. Rather than showing that Bohm's theory predicts the wrong particle traje…Read more
  •  112
  •  1
    The bare theory is the standard von Neumann·Dirac formulation of quantum mechanics without the collapse postulate but with the eigenvalueeigenstate link. Albert (1992, 1i6-125) presented the bare theory as one way of understanding EverettRi7;s relative-state interpretation. At first glance, it looks as if the bare theory cannot possibly account for our experience. After all, at the end of a measurement an observer will typically be in a superposition of having recorded mutually incompatible resu…Read more
  •  70
    Computer implication and the Curry paradox
    with Wayne Aitken
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 33 (6): 631-637. 2004.
    There are theoretical limitations to what can be implemented by a computer program. In this paper we are concerned with a limitation on the strength of computer implemented deduction. We use a version of the Curry paradox to arrive at this limitation
  •  72
    On the nature of experience in the bare theory
    Synthese 113 (3): 347-355. 1997.
    Quantum mechanics without the collapse postulate, the bare theory, was proposed by Albert (1992) as a way of understanding Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics. The basic idea is to try to account for an observer's beliefs by appealing to a type of illusion predicted by the bare theory. This paper responds to some recent objections to the bare theory by providing a more detailed description of the sense in which it can and the sense in which it cannot account for our experie…Read more
  •  89
    Everett proposed resolving the quantum measurement problem by dropping the nonlinear collapse dynamics from quantum mechanics and taking what is left as a complete physical theory. If one takes such a proposal seriously, then the question becomes how much of the predictive and explanatory power of the standard theory can one recover without the collapse postulate and without adding anything else. Quantum mechanics without the collapse postulate has several suggestive properties, which we will co…Read more
  •  3
    David Lewis (1969) introduced sender-receiver games as a way of investigating how meaningful language might evolve from initially random signals. In this report I investigate the conditions under which Lewis signaling games evolve to perfect signaling systems under various learning dynamics. While the 2-state/2- term Lewis signaling game with basic urn learning always approaches a signaling system, I will show that with more than two states suboptimal pooling equilibria can evolve. Inhomogeneous…Read more
  •  19
    Entanglement and disentanglement in relativistic quantum mechanics
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 48 (2): 168-174. 2014.
  •  100
    The Evolution of Coding in Signaling Games
    Theory and Decision 67 (2): 223-237. 2009.
    Signaling games with reinforcement learning have been used to model the evolution of term languages (Lewis 1969, Convention. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Skyrms 2006, “Signals” Presidential Address. Philosophy of Science Association for PSA). In this article, syntactic games, extensions of David Lewis’s original sender–receiver game, are used to illustrate how a language that exploits available syntactic structure might evolve to code for states of the world. The evolution of a langu…Read more
  •  228
    A Quantum-Mechanical Argument for Mind–Body Dualism
    Erkenntnis 65 (1): 97-115. 2006.
    I argue that a strong mind–body dualism is required of any formulation of quantum mechanics that satisfies a relatively weak set of explanatory constraints. Dropping one or more of these constraints may allow one to avoid the commitment to a mind–body dualism but may also require a commitment to a physical–physical dualism that is at least as objectionable. Ultimately, it is the preferred basis problem that pushes both collapse and no-collapse theories in the direction of a strong dualism in res…Read more
  •  16
    We consider an extension of signaling games to the case of prediction, where one agent perceives the current state of the world and sends a signal. The second agent perceives this signal, and makes a prediction about the next state of the world. We suggest that such games may be the basis of a model for the evolution of successful theorizing about the world.
  •  10
    Reviews-The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics
    with Daniel F. Styer
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2): 393-396. 2001.
  •  39
    Insofar as empirical inquiry involves the coevolution of descriptive language and theoretical commitments, a satisfactory model of empirical knowledge should describe the coordinated evolution of both language and theory. But since we do not know what conceptual resources we might need to express our future theories or to provide our best future faithful descriptions of the world, we do not now know even what the space of future descriptive options might be. One strategy for addressing this shif…Read more
  •  63
    Skyrms-Lewis signaling games illustrate how meaningful language may evolve from initially meaningless random signals (Lewis, Convention 1969; Skyrms 2008). Here we will consider how incommensurable languages might evolve in the context of signaling games. We will also consider the types of incommensurability exhibited between evolved languages in such games. We will find that sequentially evolved languages may be strongly incommensurable while still allowing for increasingly faithful description…Read more
  •  137
    The preferred-basis problem and the quantum mechanics of everything
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (2): 199-220. 2005.
    argued that there are two options for what he called a realistic solution to the quantum measurement problem: (1) select a preferred set of observables for which definite values are assumed to exist, or (2) attempt to assign definite values to all observables simultaneously (1810–1). While conventional wisdom has it that the second option is ruled out by the Kochen-Specker theorem, Vink nevertheless advocated it. Making every physical quantity determinate in quantum mechanics carries with it sig…Read more
  •  65
    Description and the Problem of Priors
    Erkenntnis 79 (6): 1343-1353. 2014.
    Belief-revision models of knowledge describe how to update one’s degrees of belief associated with hypotheses as one considers new evidence, but they typically do not say how probabilities become associated with meaningful hypotheses in the first place. Here we consider a variety of Skyrms–Lewis signaling game (Lewis in Convention. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1969; Skyrms in Signals evolution, learning, & information. Oxford University Press, New York, 2010) where simple descriptive lan…Read more