, Volume 192, Issue 1, pp 221–240 | Cite as

Re-thinking local causality

  • Simon Friederich


There is widespread belief in a tension between quantum theory and special relativity, motivated by the idea that quantum theory violates J. S. Bell’s criterion of local causality, which is meant to implement the causal structure of relativistic space-time. This paper argues that if one takes the essential intuitive idea behind local causality to be that probabilities in a locally causal theory depend only on what occurs in the backward light cone and if one regards objective probability as what imposes constraints on rational credence along the lines of David Lewis’ Principal Principle, then one arrives at the view that whether or not Bell’s criterion holds is irrelevant for whether or not local causality holds. The assumptions on which this argument rests are highlighted, and those that may seem controversial are motivated.


Quantum theory Special relativity Causality Probability  Principal Principle 



I would like to thank Andreas Bartels, Jeremy Butterfield, Michael Esfeld, Thorben Petersen, two anonymous referees, and the members of the Göttinger Philosophisches Reflektorium for useful comments on earlier versions. I am grateful to discussions with conference audiences in Hanover and Munich, where the material developed here was presented.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Philosophy, University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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