Not Throwing out the Baby with the Bathwater: Bell’s Condition of Local Causality Mathematically ‘Sharp and Clean’

  • M. P. SeevinckEmail author
  • J. Uffink
Conference paper
Part of the The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective book series (PSEP, volume 2)


The starting point of the present paper is Bell’s notion of local causality and his own sharpening of it so as to provide for mathematical formalisation. Starting with Norsen’s (2007 [15], 2009 [16]) analysis of this formalisation, it is subjected to a critique that reveals two crucial aspects that have so far not been properly taken into account. These are (i) the correct understanding of the notions of sufficiency, completeness and redundancy involved; and (ii) the fact that the apparatus settings and measurement outcomes have very different theoretical roles in the candidate theories under study. Both aspects are not adequately incorporated in the standard formalisation, and we will therefore do so. The upshot of our analysis is a more detailed, sharp and clean mathematical expression of the condition of local causality. A preliminary analysis of the repercussions of our proposal shows that it is able to locate exactly where and how the notions of locality and causality are involved in formalising Bell’s condition of local causality.

PACS numbers: 03.65.Ta, 03.65.Ud


Free Variable Light Cone Causal Theory Local Causality Candidate Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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MPS acknowledges very fruitful conversations with Hans Westman and Eric Cavalcanti and thanks the Centre for Time, Sydney, Australia for hosting him as a guest researcher. JU acknowledges fruitful discussions with Joe Henson and thanks the Perimeter Institute, Waterloo, Canada for generous hospitality.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics, Centre for the History of Philosophy and ScienceRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Institute for History and Foundations of Science, Department of Physics and AstronomyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Physics and AstronomyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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