On Explanation in Retro-causal Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics

  • Joseph BerkovitzEmail author
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 347)


The curious correlations between distant events in quantum phenomena suggest the existence of non-local influences. Indeed, as John Bell demonstrated in his celebrated theorem, granted some plausible premises any quantum theory will predict the existence of such non-local influences. One of the theorem’s premises is that the probability distribution of the states that systems may assume is independent of the measurements that they undergo at a later time. Retro-causal interpretations of quantum mechanics postulate backward influences from measurement events to the state of systems at an earlier time, and accordingly violate this premise. We argue that retro-causal interpretations predict the existence of closed causal loops, and consider the challenges that these loops for the explanatory power of these interpretations.


Bohmian Mechanic Standard Quantum Mechanic Causal Loop Block Universe Orthodox Interpretation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The work on this paper was prompted by an invitation to contribute to this volume. I am very grateful to the editor, Mauricio Suarez. Parts of this paper were presented at the Time-Symmetric Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics Workshop and the Summer Foundations Conference 2006, Centre for Time, Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney; CREA, Polytechnique, Paris; the Department of Philosophy, Universidad de Barcelona; the Department of Philosophy, Universidad Complutense de Madrid; and the Sigma Club, Centre for the Philosophy of Natural and Social Sciences, London School of Economics. These conferences and colloquia were instrumental in the development of the paper, and I thank the organizers, audiences, and in particular Rod Sutherland, Mauricio Suarez, Huw Price, David Miller, Carl Hoefer, Roman Frigg and Guido Bacciagaluppi. For support, I am very grateful to the Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney, and the Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto.


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© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IHPST, Victoria College, University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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