Journal Article

On the Faithful Interpretation of Pure Wave Mechanics

Jeffrey A. Barrett

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 62, issue 4, pages 693-709
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
On the Faithful Interpretation of Pure Wave Mechanics

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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 encountered by pure wave mechanics, and does so in a way that avoids unnecessary metaphysical complications. Taking Everett's goal to be showing the empirical faithfulness of the relative-state formulation agrees well with his characterization of his project as one of seeking a model for observation in the correlation structure described by pure wave mechanics and seeking a measure of typicality over this empirical substructure that covaries with our empirically warranted expectations.

1Pure Wave Mechanics and Relative States

2Everett and Frank

3Everett on the Nature of Physical Theories

4Conditions for Empirical Faithfulness

5The Empirical Faithfulness of Pure Wave Mechanics


Journal Article.  7347 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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