Philosophy Of The Cosmos - Copenhagen Multiverse
The Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum mechanics has us believe that "nothing needs to be considered real except when a measurment is made" (Jasons notes)
This quietist interpretation seems downright unscietific.(Well, at least on a philosophical level, I don't know if this result comes out of the maths or something). I say this because, in my opinion, the very essence of the sciences is to inquire about the universe, to never cease asking WHY? . The interpretation seems to raise more questions than answers (not that other parts of science dont do this) How is it that objects pop in and out of existence? (and we're not talking virtual pairs, we're talking tables and chairs (even entire galaxies))
It seems to be a bit of an 'out of sight, out of mind' thing, that the underlying reality has been brushed under the carpet and we are told not to worry about it. That is fine if you're an instramentalist.
One thought that I had was that, if there actually are other universes out there and we are but one in a multiverse, then, following the copenhagen interpretation, the other universes would not exist anyway as we would be completely contained in our own universe and would be unable to observe them.
This is UNLESS
a. some of these universes contain observers (these ones would exist)
or b. the other universes somehow affect/can be measured in this one (eg I have heared a theory that the force of gravity is infact leaking into this universe from another one)
What does everyone else think about this "it doesn't matter anyway" approach? Although, this post might all change once we have learn't some more about it.
Kathryn Parker,
It seems to be a bit of an 'out of sight, out of mind' thing, that the underlying reality has been brushed under the carpet and we are told not to worry about it. That is fine if you're an instramentalist.
One thought that I had was that, if there actually are other universes out there and we are but one in a multiverse, then, following the copenhagen interpretation, the other universes would not exist anyway as we would be completely contained in our own universe and would be unable to observe them.
This is UNLESS
a. some of these universes contain observers (these ones would exist)
or b. the other universes somehow affect/can be measured in this one (eg I have heared a theory that the force of gravity is infact leaking into this universe from another one)
What does everyone else think about this "it doesn't matter anyway" approach? Although, this post might all change once we have learn't some more about it.
Kathryn Parker, u 4845956
Personally, I agree with all of that. I'd be interested to hear counter-arguments. (Only genuine counter-arguments, please. Remember that it's bad to play devil's advocate just for the sake of it.)
Historically, quietism was popular in the mid 20th century partly because of the influence of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was ultra-influential and who wrote a lot about quietism in general. (Not specifically about quantum mechanics.) We might have a whole course on Wittgenstein at some point, in case you're interested in getting stuck into him.
Jason

I think I remember reading somewhere on the Study At website that there is a (later year) philosophy course on Wittgenstein, but it mainly focuses on his two major works and has an emphasis on the implications his studies had on language. I say hooray for Sapir and Whorf, Wittgenstein was just trying to ride the wave ;)
Jordan u 4847190
Some interesting points, and seems to bring up the question of 'what is science?'. It is also worth pointing out here that from that quote from Jason's lecture notes, it doesn't seem that the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics says 'nothing is real except when a measurement is made' but that 'nothing needs to be _considered_ real except when a measurement is made'. Thus in this sense it is not the case that other universes _bona fide_ don't exist under this interpetation, as an example of something we don't necessarily observe or measure, but just that we can't say that they do or that they don't.
Thus under this interpretation and its variants, we simply know what we either observe or measure, and nothing more. On the matter of 'what is science?', it may seem, as you suggest, that it is the extension of philosophy applied to the natural domain (i.e. natural philosophy), and hence must ask 'why?'. However, it seems apparent that science, being so-called, it is not merely just, or necessarily, natural philosophy, in the sense of asking why about the 'reasons' of nature. This and the statement of knowing nothing other than what we observe or measure should seem familiar, in the excerpt of Bertrand Russell's book _Outline of Philosophy_, chapter 11, 'Causal Laws in Physics', which is in our course readings, he says that 'Science is concerned merely with what happens, not with what _must_ happen' (p. 91, p. 186 in the course reading). Hence if we don't know what happens, we must be quiet as to what happens, under this reading. This should also be interesting since Wittgenstein and Russell had a history of being associated with one another, as might seem evident in Wittgenstein's oft quoted adage, 'Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.' (1921/1922, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 7) ' however regardless of influence, it is clear that a notion of scientific knowledge is being espoused other than that of a 'metaphysical' account of things in the 'natural world'.
Indeed, one might say that it is not so much 'out of sight, out of mind' to not mention the unobserved and unmeasured, but 'out of sight, never in the mind'. Of course, I would agree that science is more than just a string of observations, but also a matter of theoretical inferences; however, these inferences are not necessarily to do with the things they are about. It is not quite clear, however, that it strictly parallels instrumentalism to disconsider the unobserved and unmeasured in the Copenhagen interpretation, according to this evaluation, it is not the case that ignoring the ontological status of things unmeasured or unobserved is justified by efficacy of predictions, but by our lack of a criterion or criteria to know, namely, by our lack of measurement or observation. Of course, an interesting question may be asked, as to what grounds then are there to make certain theoretical inferences without ontological judgements along with them ' and although instrumentalism may support them, they may merely be unanswered questions; inferences forced by insufficient data on what we do know, when making a theoretical framework. Thus in not saying, the Copenhagen interpretation may be making explicit the fact that certain theoretical inferences _cannot_ say about certain ontological features of the physical world, given certain criteria for knowing those features ' it is merely a working part of the theory, and although this doesn't preclude that we may come to know such features, as it is, we cannot know them.
Thus although the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics states something possibly unscientific in certain theoretical inferences (namely, probability), it is not to say that the theory is scientific if and only if science is instrumental, but rather that such theoretical inferences are a step _in_ a scientific theory (a theory _describing_ the physical world) which are non-scientific, but nevertheless something which may be worked out (to be in accord with physical events).
References:
Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1921/1922 translation by C. K. Ogden). _Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus_. Routledge & Kegan Paul: London.
Bertrand, Russell (1927). 'Causal Laws of Physics'. In _Outline of Philosophy, Chapter 11_. George Allen & Unwin: London. pp. 90-96.
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Kyle, u 4686832.