Interpretations of Probability in Quantum Mechanics: A Case of “Experimental Metaphysics”

  • Geoffrey Hellman
Part of the The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science book series (WONS, volume 73)

After reviewing paradigmatic cases of “experimental metaphysics” basing inferences against local realism and determinism on experimental tests of Bells theorem (and successors), we concentrate on clarifying the meaning and status of “objective probability” in quantum mechanics. The terms “objective” and “subjective” are found ambiguous and inadequate, masking crucial differences turning on the question of what the numerical values of probability functions measure vs. the question of the nature of the “events” on which such functions are defined. This leads naturally to a 2×2 matrix of types of interpretations, which are then illustrated with salient examples. (Of independent interest are the splitting of “Copenhagen interpretation” into “objective” and “subjective” varieties in one of the dimensions and the splitting of Bohmian hidden variables from (other) modal interpretations along that same dimension.) It is then explained why Everett interpretations are difficult to categorize in these terms. Finally, we argue that Bohmian mechanics does not seriously threaten the experimental-metaphysical case for ultimate randomness and purely physical probabilities.


Quantum Probability Bohmian Mechanic Hide Variable Theory Copenhagen Interpretation Pure Quantum State 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V 2009

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  • Geoffrey Hellman

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