The Monist

Volume 80, Issue 1, January 1997

Quantum Mechanics and the Real World

Jeffrey A. Barrett
Pages 70-96

On Everett’s Formulation of Quantum Mechanics

Everett wanted a formulation of quantum mechanics that (i) took the linear dynamics to be a complete and accurate description of the time-evolution of all physical systems and (ii) logically entailed the same subjective appearances predicted by the standard formulation of quantum mechanics. While most everyone would agree with this description of Everett’s project, there is little agreement on exactly how his relative-state formulation was supposed to work. In this paper, I consider two very different readings of Everett: the bare reading and the splitting-worlds reading. What distinguishes these is their interpretation of the wave function and how one accounts for the experiences of observers. The difficulty in interpreting Everett, however, is illustrated by the fact that neither reading is entirely compatible with his own description of his project.