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Correlations and Counterfactuals: The EPR Illusion

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Part of the The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science book series (WONS,volume 78)

Abstract

I argue that ever since Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen’s original paper, our thinking about quantum correlations has been dogged by a persistent illusion: we fall into the trap of taking measurements on one half of an EPR pair to license counterfactual inferences about the other member of the pair. In this essay I attempt to diagnose this illusion and make it less tempting.

Keywords

  • Entangle Pair
  • State Attribution
  • Objective Chance
  • Causal Past
  • Future Light Cone

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Notes

  1. 1.

    All this is related to the status of so-called “Conditional Excluded Middle.” For our purposes, it matters not whether we say that “\(\left( {{\textrm{X}} \Rightarrow {\textrm{Y}}} \right) \vee \left( {{\textrm{X}} \Rightarrow {\textrm{Z}}} \right)\)” can be true even when it’s indeterminate which disjunct is true (this is what I understand Stalnaker (1981) to claim—see Williams (2010) for further discussion) or whether we say, following Lewis , that “\(\left( {{\textrm{X}} \Rightarrow {\textrm{Y}}} \right) \vee \left( {{\textrm{X}} \Rightarrow {\textrm{Z}}} \right)\)” can be false even when “\({\textrm{X}} \Rightarrow \left( {{\textrm{Y}} \vee {\textrm{Z}}} \right)\)” is true. What matters is that there is no fact about what would happen were Bob to make the measurement.

References

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Correspondence to Allen Stairs .

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Stairs, A. (2012). Correlations and Counterfactuals: The EPR Illusion. In: Frappier, M., Brown, D., DiSalle, R. (eds) Analysis and Interpretation in the Exact Sciences. The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science, vol 78. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-2582-9_13

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