Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#81  Postby jamest » Jun 20, 2011 12:08 pm

Matthew Shute wrote:
jamest wrote:
UndercoverElephant wrote:

MWI has already been tested with reason, and it passes. I know of nobody out there who has provided any grounds for rejecting MWI for being logically inconsistent (with itself).

You're adopting a different stance to Matt, then - who thinks that the MWI is untestable altogether - but whether "it passes" is obviously open to debate and to whether the MWI has received the full extent of rational scrutiny that is applicable to it.

No, I said that you can't refute it logically. You can't refute it logically because it is logically consistent. Because various other interpretations of QM are also logically consistent,

Logically consistent from a purely materialist/physicalist perspective? I question that. Certainly, if 'one thing' has the potential to be countless physical universes, then that ~thing~ itself is not a physical universe/object. Physical status is what that ~thing~ achieves, not what it is.
Further, the wave/particle nature of reality is what lends credance to the MWI, but the reality of any particular world seems contingent upon observation/experience. That is, the [particle] reality of any other worlds seems contingent upon there being an observation/experience of them. Observation/experience are apparently integral and necessary, then, to any 'physical reality'. This is at-odds, I think, with any purely materialist/physicalist narrative, so that only idealist perspectives are 'logically consistent' with the MWI.

It is not my position, then, that the MWI is logically inconsistent. It is my position that the MWI is not logically consistent with a purely materialist/physicalist outlook.

Arguably, these are metaphysical positions, then. And you surely know by now my opinion on that one! :lol:

The problem is that the MWI is a metaphysical theory, in that it implicates a reality beyond that which we can see (this particular world). If you have no desire to entertain metaphysical theories, then you must reject outright the MWI.

To clear up my position on the wave function itself: yes, it is a mathematical construct. As to empirical or not, I admit that I was slightly fishing to see whether you categorise mathematics as part of "the experienced world"/world of appearances/etc,

I would no more categorise all mathematics as part of (being directly about) this empirical world than I would categorise all philosophy as part of (and directly about) this empirical world.

which is distinct from your metaphysical reality, seemingly aloof from anything we can access.

Metaphysics is accessible and questionable via reason alone. One problem metaphysicists have is in explaining to others that our minds do transcend the bounds of what this empirical reality can feed into them. Certainly, the MWI is an instance of this transcendence at work.

In that post, I was telling you that I reject your philosophy. To you, the important thing is a reality beyond experience. What is important to me is the content of experience, this world of appearances, relationships with the people I know, how they relate to each other, nature, forests, buzzards, birch ploypores, my cat, the sun, science, the cosmos, music, literature, films, computer games, conversations, and so on.

Experience matters to idealists, also. However, the philosophy of an idealist entails that there be a normative element to one's view of experience which differs significantly from the normative views of one's detractors.

You seem to care about some abstract thing "out there" which you can't experience.

Ironically, for an idealist, everything is ultimately 'abstract' except that ~thing~. Further, the idealist does not seek to know something "out there", but something about its own reality.

If you could experience it, it would fall victim to your own philosophy, and you would cease to care about it so much.

This depends upon how you define experience. It has always been assumed that experience was about other things, so that we can only experience other things. For an idealist, however, this assumption ultimately crumbles to nothing - since it seems that all experience is essentially of and about oneself: there are no other things, for an idealist, so how could this not be consistent with that view?
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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#82  Postby Matthew Shute » Jun 20, 2011 4:10 pm

jamest wrote:
Matthew Shute wrote:
jamest wrote:
You're adopting a different stance to Matt, then - who thinks that the MWI is untestable altogether - but whether "it passes" is obviously open to debate and to whether the MWI has received the full extent of rational scrutiny that is applicable to it.

No, I said that you can't refute it logically. You can't refute it logically because it is logically consistent. Because various other interpretations of QM are also logically consistent,

Logically consistent from a purely materialist/physicalist perspective? I question that.

You're entitled to question that. The point is that there are various competing interpretations of QM which are internally logically consistent, and consistent with observation.

As I've said before, I have no problem with you attacking metaphysical materialism/physicalism (which I don't support, anyway).

Your problem? There are many metaphysical models of reality. Suppose we isolate only those models which are both internally logically consistent and consistent with observation. You're not going to be left with 1; you're going to have a stack of them. Other than mysticism or faith, the only way for you to eliminate further models, to close in on 1, is to judge them on some other grounds such as ethics or aesthetics.

You're still stuck on the idea that you can home in on one metaphysical model, using only logic. How is this plausible?

Certainly, if 'one thing' has the potential to be countless physical universes, then that ~thing~ itself is not a physical universe/object. Physical status is what that ~thing~ achieves, not what it is.
Further, the wave/particle nature of reality is what lends credance to the MWI, but the reality of any particular world seems contingent upon observation/experience. That is, the [particle] reality of any other worlds seems contingent upon there being an observation/experience of them. Observation/experience are apparently integral and necessary, then, to any 'physical reality'. This is at-odds, I think, with any purely materialist/physicalist narrative, so that only idealist perspectives are 'logically consistent' with the MWI.

It is not my position, then, that the MWI is logically inconsistent. It is my position that the MWI is not logically consistent with a purely materialist/physicalist outlook.

The MWI doesn't even need to be consistent with a particular metaphysical model, such as physicalism. It only has to be internally consistent and consistent with observation. The MWI is a metaphysical model, which is partly why you're going to have a big problem trying to "disprove" it.

Arguably, these are metaphysical positions, then. And you surely know by now my opinion on that one! :lol:

The problem is that the MWI is a metaphysical theory, in that it implicates a reality beyond that which we can see (this particular world). If you have no desire to entertain metaphysical theories, then you must reject outright the MWI.

To clear up my position on the wave function itself: yes, it is a mathematical construct. As to empirical or not, I admit that I was slightly fishing to see whether you categorise mathematics as part of "the experienced world"/world of appearances/etc,

I would no more categorise all mathematics as part of (being directly about) this empirical world than I would categorise all philosophy as part of (and directly about) this empirical world.

Okay.


which is distinct from your metaphysical reality, seemingly aloof from anything we can access.

Metaphysics is accessible and questionable via reason alone. One problem metaphysicists have is in explaining to others that our minds do transcend the bounds of what this empirical reality can feed into them.

This seems little more than an article of faith, however.
Certainly, the MWI is an instance of this transcendence at work.

We haven't actually falsified or authenticated the MWI, remember! All we've done is ponder it as an idea, one possibility among many. We're no closer to knowing what reality is. In fact, we're further away, because we've merely added one more contender instead of eliminating any.


In that post, I was telling you that I reject your philosophy. To you, the important thing is a reality beyond experience. What is important to me is the content of experience, this world of appearances, relationships with the people I know, how they relate to each other, nature, forests, buzzards, birch ploypores, my cat, the sun, science, the cosmos, music, literature, films, computer games, conversations, and so on.

Experience matters to idealists, also. However, the philosophy of an idealist entails that there be a normative element to one's view of experience which differs significantly from the normative views of one's detractors.

You seem to care about some abstract thing "out there" which you can't experience.

Ironically, for an idealist, everything is ultimately 'abstract' except that ~thing~. Further, the idealist does not seek to know something "out there", but something about its own reality.

If you could experience it, it would fall victim to your own philosophy, and you would cease to care about it so much.

This depends upon how you define experience. It has always been assumed that experience was about other things, so that we can only experience other things. For an idealist, however, this assumption ultimately crumbles to nothing - since it seems that all experience is essentially of and about oneself: there are no other things, for an idealist, so how could this not be consistent with that view?

From time to time I may ponder what is behind, or at the root of, experience. However, I know that all I'm doing is daydreaming about possibilities.
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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#83  Postby jamest » Jun 20, 2011 11:40 pm

Matthew Shute wrote:As I've said before, I have no problem with you attacking metaphysical materialism/physicalism (which I don't support, anyway).

As I explained: The MWI is a metaphysical theory, in that it implicates a reality beyond that which we can see (this particular world).

If you have no problem with me attacking metaphysical materialism/physicalism in relation to this theory, then what exactly is your problem?

Your problem? There are many metaphysical models of reality. Suppose we isolate only those models which are both internally logically consistent and consistent with observation. You're not going to be left with 1; you're going to have a stack of them.

There are many metaphysical models of reality? Last I heard, there were essentially three... and one of them was a combination of the other two (dualism).

[/i] Other than mysticism or faith, the only way for you to eliminate further models, to close in on 1, is to judge them on some other grounds such as ethics or aesthetics.

How can you say that when I've already presented a synopsis of two logical problems which undermine a materialistic association with the MWI?

You're still stuck on the idea that you can home in on one metaphysical model, using only logic. How is this plausible?

There are reasons why idealism makes sense in relation to the MWI... and in relation to QM in general. I discussed the main one in the aforementioned synopsis, but you didn't actually address the content of that paragraph.

The MWI doesn't even need to be consistent with a particular metaphysical model, such as physicalism.

Of course it does, since the MWI is a metaphysical theory. If that theory does not fit with a particular model, then we cannot reconcile the theory with the model. In which case, either the theory is wrong or we can discard the model altogether.

It only has to be internally consistent and consistent with observation.

To be 'internally consistent' is to be able to reconcile the metaphysical theory with a particular metaphysical model, for how can there be an internally consistent metaphysical theory which cannot reconcile itself to any known metaphysical models? That would make no sense whatsoever.
Further, observation has got nothing to do with the MWI in that we cannot observe it to be true, nor can we observe it to be false.

The MWI is a metaphysical model, which is partly why you're going to have a big problem trying to "disprove" it.

As I've said, I'm not trying to disprove it. I'm merely trying to prove why it is not consistent with a physical reality... and show why it is consistent with a model of reality commensurate with idealism.

Metaphysics is accessible and questionable via reason alone. One problem metaphysicists have is in explaining to others that our minds do transcend the bounds of what this empirical reality can feed into them.

This seems little more than an article of faith, however.
Certainly, the MWI is an instance of this transcendence at work.

We haven't actually falsified or authenticated the MWI, remember!

Whether we have falsified it or not, is not the point here. The point is that the theory is borne of a logic which transcends knowledge of the world that we can actually observe... and also speaks of a reality which we cannot.

We're no closer to knowing what reality is. In fact, we're further away, because we've merely added one more contender instead of eliminating any.

The MWI isn't 'another contender'. It merely adds or detracts to/from preestablished metaphysical models of reality.

From time to time I may ponder what is behind, or at the root of, experience. However, I know that all I'm doing is daydreaming about possibilities.

How do you know that?
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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#84  Postby Matthew Shute » Jun 21, 2011 4:15 pm

jamest wrote:
Matthew Shute wrote:As I've said before, I have no problem with you attacking metaphysical materialism/physicalism (which I don't support, anyway).

As I explained: The MWI is a metaphysical theory, in that it implicates a reality beyond that which we can see (this particular world).

If you have no problem with me attacking metaphysical materialism/physicalism in relation to this theory, then what exactly is your problem?

That you're lacking either honesty or clarity. You're not even trying to refute the MWI on its own terms. You're trying to find problems with how it relates to another metaphysical model, which you also can't refute. Even if the the MWI and physicalism turned out to be incompatible with each other, that wouldn't refute either of them. So what is your goal with this?

Your problem? There are many metaphysical models of reality. Suppose we isolate only those models which are both internally logically consistent and consistent with observation. You're not going to be left with 1; you're going to have a stack of them.

There are many metaphysical models of reality? Last I heard, there were essentially three... and one of them was a combination of the other two (dualism).

Again, this strikes me as slightly dishonest.

Yes, you can place all the various models of reality into broad categories. Solipsim and panpsychism could be placed under the idealism heading, perhaps (although some panpsychists might disagree). Physicalism and neutral monism would be placed under the monism heading, along with some versions of idealism. There are different sorts of dualism. Now, people could split hairs about under which category to place each model, including some odd variants like hylopathism and acosmism. So you have three categories, not three defined models of reality. Under each category, you have infinite variations on the theme.

[/i] Other than mysticism or faith, the only way for you to eliminate further models, to close in on 1, is to judge them on some other grounds such as ethics or aesthetics.

How can you say that when I've already presented a synopsis of two logical problems which undermine a materialistic association with the MWI?

Paul Almond has already put you right on this. In any case, this isn't the same as logically refuting the MWI, and it isn't the same as logically refuting physicalism. They can each be internally logically consistent and consistent with observation. This is the case with nearly all the metaphysical models in currency.

You're still stuck on the idea that you can home in on one metaphysical model, using only logic. How is this plausible?

There are reasons why idealism makes sense in relation to the MWI... and in relation to QM in general. I discussed the main one in the aforementioned synopsis, but you didn't actually address the content of that paragraph.

Paul Almond has already discussed that with you. If some interpretations of QM make sense in relation to idealism, great; but so what? Do you think that this somehow "proves" idealism?
The MWI doesn't even need to be consistent with a particular metaphysical model, such as physicalism.

Of course it does, since the MWI is a metaphysical theory. If that theory does not fit with a particular model, then we cannot reconcile the theory with the model. In which case, either the theory is wrong or we can discard the model altogether.

Nonsense. The MWI is an interpretation of QM. "Many worlds" does not have to mean "many worlds of (metaphysical) physical substance". A neutral monist could believe in the MWI: there are many worlds, they're just not physical (in the metaphysical sense). I don't see why you are chaining the MWI with physicalism in the first place.

Even if you can demonstrate an either-or situation regarding physicalism and the MWI, you can neither authenticate nor falsify the MWI itself; neither can you falsify physicalism itself; and it is not as though physicalism falls if the MWI falls; and it is not as though the MWI falls if physicalism falls. In other words, you would harm neither the MWI nor physicalism. It's like saying: "If solipsism is true, then Little Idiot's version of mentalism is false, and vice versa." Okay, and well done, but that doesn't get us any further.

It only has to be internally consistent and consistent with observation.

To be 'internally consistent' is to be able to reconcile the metaphysical theory with a particular metaphysical model, for how can there be an internally consistent metaphysical theory which cannot reconcile itself to any known metaphysical models? That would make no sense whatsoever.

Of course it would. "Many worlds" says nothing about the fundamental substance of those worlds. You're not looking at it on its own; you're looking at it through the prism of metaphysical physicalism, which it does not obviously depend upon.
Further, observation has got nothing to do with the MWI in that we cannot observe it to be true, nor can we observe it to be false.

Quite so - in the sense that, a metaphysical model which happened to flatly contradict what we observe could be criticized as a failed scientific hypothesis. Dawkins attempts this in The God Delusion - the postulated existence of a certain type of God has empirical implications.

The MWI is a metaphysical model, which is partly why you're going to have a big problem trying to "disprove" it.

As I've said, I'm not trying to disprove it. I'm merely trying to prove why it is not consistent with a physical reality... and show why it is consistent with a model of reality commensurate with idealism.

And then what? What do you think you will have won? You're no further towards authenticating idealism or falsifying materialism. Why do you find it so impressive that one strange interpretation of a scientific theory fails to contradict your idealism? You've just implied that compatibility with science isn't of paramount importance for a metaphysical model anyway! I remember you once attacked the theory of evolution by natural selection, because it didn't fit your metaphysics! You attack ideas with scientific associations when it suits you. At other times, you try to say that your metaphysical idealism is stronger when it fits with such ideas. Which is it?


Metaphysics is accessible and questionable via reason alone. One problem metaphysicists have is in explaining to others that our minds do transcend the bounds of what this empirical reality can feed into them.

This seems little more than an article of faith, however.
Certainly, the MWI is an instance of this transcendence at work.

We haven't actually falsified or authenticated the MWI, remember!

Whether we have falsified it or not, is not the point here. The point is that the theory is borne of a logic which transcends knowledge of the world that we can actually observe... and also speaks of a reality which we cannot.

We're no closer to knowing what reality is. In fact, we're further away, because we've merely added one more contender instead of eliminating any.

The MWI isn't 'another contender'. It merely adds or detracts to/from preestablished metaphysical models of reality.

From time to time I may ponder what is behind, or at the root of, experience. However, I know that all I'm doing is daydreaming about possibilities.

How do you know that?

Because there is no possibility at arriving at 1 metaphysical model of reality by using only pure logic. I'm not going to spell out the reason for this again. I've explained it something like nine thousand times.
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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#85  Postby kendallangel » May 16, 2015 1:03 pm

MWI is pure bullshit. Period.
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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#86  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 16, 2015 2:13 pm

kendallangel wrote:MWI is pure bullshit. Period.

Squares are circles. Period.
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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#87  Postby laklak » May 16, 2015 2:33 pm

Philosophy has as much chance of proving or disproving MWI as it does cooking an egg. Either MWI is true or it isn't, and nattering on about logic isn't going to change that. Quantum physics doesn't give a toss about philosophy.
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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#88  Postby DavidMcC » May 17, 2015 4:01 pm

laklak wrote:Philosophy has as much chance of proving or disproving MWI as it does cooking an egg. Either MWI is true or it isn't, and nattering on about logic isn't going to change that. Quantum physics doesn't give a toss about philosophy.

Which version of MWI do you mean? The one in which the many universes are real, or the one where they are just a mathematical construct?
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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#89  Postby OnNavalTimber » Jan 20, 2016 3:10 pm

In relation to the following seemingly plausible and intuitively comfortable refutation of Many Worlds Theory:

'...though the physical potential exists, the likelihood of tomorrow's papers headlining The Pope as a murderous gay atheist, seems bleak, to say the least. Therefore, are these many worlds constrained by what is physically possible, or by what is sensibly possible? That is, do mental/emotive concerns dictate what worlds are possible, or simply physical potentials? On the face of it, it would seem that the MWI doesn't have any recourse towards mental potential/agency.'

In the UK that is akin to writing: imagine such an improbable world where the headlines would read that beloved national celebrities: Sir Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris (MBE, CBE), and the politicians Cyril Smith (MBE) were prolific child abusing paedophiles. But we now know they were. If many Worlds Theory is right - a far more plausible world has them as upstanding citizens who always were exactly what they appeared to be.
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Re: Refuting the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI)

#90  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 21, 2016 1:23 pm

OnNavalTimber wrote:In relation to the following seemingly plausible and intuitively comfortable refutation of Many Worlds Theory:

'...though the physical potential exists, the likelihood of tomorrow's papers headlining The Pope as a murderous gay atheist, seems bleak, to say the least. Therefore, are these many worlds constrained by what is physically possible, or by what is sensibly possible? That is, do mental/emotive concerns dictate what worlds are possible, or simply physical potentials? On the face of it, it would seem that the MWI doesn't have any recourse towards mental potential/agency.'

In the UK that is akin to writing: imagine such an improbable world where the headlines would read that beloved national celebrities: Sir Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris (MBE, CBE), and the politicians Cyril Smith (MBE) were prolific child abusing paedophiles. But we now know they were. If many Worlds Theory is right - a far more plausible world has them as upstanding citizens who always were exactly what they appeared to be.

Completely irrelevant, I'm afraid. The MWI is unscientific, as it cannot be falsified, but this has nothing to do with the Pope, or Cyril Smith!
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