Skip to main content
Log in

A Quantum-Mechanical Argument for Mind–Body Dualism

  • Published:
Erkenntnis Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

I argue that a strong mind–body dualism is required of any formulation of quantum mechanics that satisfies a relatively weak set of explanatory constraints. Dropping one or more of these constraints may allow one to avoid the commitment to a mind–body dualism but may also require a commitment to a physical–physical dualism that is at least as objectionable. Ultimately, it is the preferred basis problem that pushes both collapse and no-collapse theories in the direction of a strong dualism in resolving the quantum measurement problem. Addressing this problem illustrates how the construction and evaluation of explanatorily rich physical theories are inextricably tied to the evaluation of traditional philosophical issues.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Albert D. Z. (1992) Quantum Mechanics and Experience. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA

    Google Scholar 

  • Albert D. Z., Loewer B. (1988) Interpreting the Many Worlds Interpretation. Synthese 77:195–213

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barrett J. A. (1994) The Suggestive Properties of Quantum Mechanics without the Collapse Postulate. Erkenntnis 41:233–252

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barrett J. A. (1995) The Single-Mind and Many-Minds Formulations of Quantum Mechanics. Erkenntnis 42:89–105

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barrett J. A. (1996) Empirical Adequacy and the Availability of Reliable Records in Quantum Mechanics. Philosophy of Science 63:49–64

    Google Scholar 

  • Barrett J. A. (1999) The Quantum Mechanics of Minds and Worlds. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Bohm, D.: 1952, ‘A Suggested Interpretation of Quantum Theory in Terms of ‘Hidden Variables’, Parts I and II, Physical Review 85, 166–179 and 180–193.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barrett, J. A.: 2005a, ‘Nonlocal Correlations and Explanation in Relativistic Quantum Mechanics’, Forthcoming in Philosophy of Science.

  • Barrett, J. A.: 2005b, ‘The Preferred-Basis Problem and the Quantum Mechanics of Everything’, Forthcoming in: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

  • Bohr N.: 1949, ‘Discussion with Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics’, in Schilpp, P. A. (ed.), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, pp. 200–241. Reprinted in Wheeler and Zurek (eds.) 1983, 9–49

  • Bohr N. (1960) Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge. John Wiley & Sons, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Ghirardi G. C., Rimini A., Weber T. (1986) Unified Dynamics for Microscopic and Macroscopic Systems. Physical Review D34:470

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hodgson D. (1991) The Mind Matters: Consciousness and Choice in a Quantum World. Clarendon Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Kochen S., Specker E. P. (1967) The Problem of Hidden-variables in Quantum Mechanics. Journal of Mathematics and Mechanics 17:59–87

    Google Scholar 

  • Putnam, H.: 2005, ‘A Philosopher Looks at Quantum Mechanics (Again)’, Forthcoming in: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

  • von Neumann, J.: 1955, Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (Princeton University Press, Princeton). Translated by R. Beyer from Mathematische Grundlagen der Quantenmechanik, Springer, Berlin, 1932.

  • Wheeler J. A., Zurek W. H. (eds) (1983) Quantum Theory and Measurement. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Google Scholar 

  • Wigner, E. P: 1961, ‘Remarks on the Mind–Body Question’, Originally published in The Scientist Speculates, Good, I. J. (ed.), Heinemann, London, pp. 284–302. Reprinted in Wheeler and Zurek (eds) (1983, 168–181).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jeffrey A. Barrett.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Barrett, J.A. A Quantum-Mechanical Argument for Mind–Body Dualism. Erkenntnis 65, 97–115 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-006-9016-z

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-006-9016-z

Keywords

Navigation