Journal Article

Conspiracy Theories of Quantum Mechanics

Peter J. Lewis

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 57, issue 2, pages 359-381
Published in print June 2006 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online April 2006 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Conspiracy Theories of Quantum Mechanics

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It has long been recognized that a local hidden variable theory of quantum mechanics can in principle be constructed, provided one is willing to countenance pre-measurement correlations between the properties of measured systems and measuring devices. However, this ‘conspiratorial’ approach is typically dismissed out of hand. In this article I examine the justification for dismissing conspiracy theories of quantum mechanics. I consider the existing arguments against such theories, and find them to be less than conclusive. I suggest a more powerful argument against the leading strategy for constructing a conspiracy theory. Finally, I outline two alternative strategies for constructing conspiracy theories, both of which are immune to these arguments, but require one to either modify or reject the common cause principle.


The incompleteness of quantum mechanics

Hidden variables

Hidden mechanism conspiracy theories

Existing arguments against hidden mechanisms

A new argument against hidden mechanisms

Backwards-causal conspiracy theories

Acausal conspiracy theories


Journal Article.  10064 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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