Re: Maudlin's argument

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2006 11:52:38 +1000

On Sun, Oct 15, 2006 at 02:37:10AM -0000, wrote:
> Barbour argues the same way you do. But he does concede that his
> argument is not yet proven. The trouble is that in the case of, for
> instance, the electron, in the example you give, there is still an
> environment external to the electron, but for the entire universe there
> could be nothing external to the wave function of the universe. And

In the example I gave, there was only one electron in the
universe. There is no external environment. Sure it is only a thought
experiment, since the only universe we know about is not like this,
but it was deliberately constructed to expose the flaw in your argument.

> the wave function of the universe, if the block-universe picture is
> right, would have to be a static equation as well, as I mentioned
> above. Apparently, none of the proposals for time-independent
> equations of the entire universe have yet been made to work.

I guess this is not something I care about much one way or the other...

> >
> > > See what I said above. If the *same* QM state could be associated with
> > > *different* observer moments, then observer moments would not be
> > > reducible to QM states and the set of consistent quantum histories
> > > could not be said to be fully identified with the set of observer
> > > histories.
> > >
> >
> > If the same QM state is associated with different observer moments,
> > you must be talking about some non-functionalist approach to
> > consciousness. The QM state, by definition, contains all information
> > that can be extracted from observation.
> >
> > Cheers
> >
> >
> See above. As was pointed out, functionalism allows for one-to-many
> relationships between conscious experiences and the physical substrates
> on which these experiences are instantiated.

Sure, but it also says these conscious experiences will be unable to
to detect which hardware they are running on (otherwise they'd be
different conscious experiences). If the two different physical
implementations differed in their quantum state, then there would be a
physical measurement that could distinguish them (disregarding the
"nonphysical" arbitrary complex-valued scaling factor). So the quantum
states describing these different physical systems must be the same
(up to a scaling factor).

> What I really mean by 'observer moment' in the fullest sense of the
> phrase is 'conscious experience'. Conventional QM cannot yet explain
> how the actual consciously observed reality is supposed to emerge from
> the QM wave-function. As has been pointed out, the observed reality
> can only be derived from QM+Additional Assumptions. There are implicit
> theories of consciousness in any account of how the actual observed
> reality is supposed to emerge from the QM wave-function and convincing
> explanations for how or why these assumptions are supposed to work are
> not yet forth-coming.
> How does the *observed* (classical) reality emerge from the QM
> wave-function? Not explained! Coarse graining, decoherence,
> consistent histories etc etc don't yet convincingly explain it.
> Until these questions are fully resolved, doubt must remain about the
> static timeless 'block universe' picture put forward by hard-core
> multiverse fans.

My guess is that it will arise from things like Stenger's "point of
view invariance" (POVI) principle. But you are right that there is
still much to be worked out, starting from why we experience living in
a 3+1 spacetime.

My point on the block universe picture is that it is a valid picture
(but not the only one) iff physics is deterministic. Standard quantum
mechanics without collapse is deterministic. Hence the block
Multiverse. If you follow Copenhagen or Bohm, then there can't be a
block Multiverse, nor a block universe for that matter.

*PS: A number of people ask me about the attachment to my email, which
is of type "application/pgp-signature". Don't worry, it is not a
virus. It is an electronic signature, that may be used to verify this
email came from me if you have PGP or GPG installed. Otherwise, you
may safely ignore this attachment.
A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052                      
            International prefix  +612, Interstate prefix 02
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at
Received on Sat Oct 14 2006 - 23:40:02 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:12 PST