Many worlds: decoherent or incoherent?

Richard Dawid, Karim P Y Thébault*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


We claim that, as it stands, the Deutsch–Wallace–Everett approach to quantum theory is conceptually incoherent. This charge is based upon the approach’s reliance upon decoherence arguments that conflict with its own fundamental precepts regarding probabilistic reasoning in two respects. This conceptual conflict obtains even if the decoherence arguments deployed are aimed merely towards the establishment of certain ‘emergent’ or ‘robust’ structures within the wave function: To be relevant to physical science notions such as robustness must be empirically grounded, and, on our analysis, this grounding can only plausibly be done in precisely the probabilistic terms that lead to conceptual conflict. Thus, the incoherence problems presented necessitate either the provision of a new, non-probabilistic empirical grounding for the notions of robustness and emergence in the context of decoherence, or the abandonment of the Deutsch–Wallace–Everett programme for quantum theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1559-1580
Number of pages22
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Decoherence
  • Emergence
  • Everett interpretation
  • Many worlds
  • Probability
  • Quantum mechanics


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