, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 35-37

First online:

On what it takes to be a world

  • David Z. AlbertAffiliated withColumbia University and University of California
  • , Jeffrey A. BarrettAffiliated withColumbia University and University of California

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A many-worlds interpretation is of quantum mechanics tells us that the linear equations of motion are the true and complete laws for the time-evolution of every physical system and that the usual quantum-mechanical states provide complete descriptions of all possible physical situations. Such an interpretation, however, denies the standard way of understanding quantum-mechanical states. When the pointer on a measuring device is in a superposition of pointing many different directions, for example, we are to understand this as many pointers, each in a differentworld, each pointing in a different determinate direction. We ask here whether such talk makes any genuinely intelligible sense of the term “world”. We conclude that it does not.