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http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2009/entries/qm-action-distance/ Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics

from the Spring 2009 Edition of the First published Fri Jan 26, 2007

Stanford Encyclopedia In the quantum realm, there are curious correlations between the

properties of distant systems. An example of such correlations is provided

of Philosophy by the famous Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen/Bohm experiment. The

correlations in the EPR/B experiment strongly suggest that there are non-

local influences between distant systems, i.e., systems between which no

light signal can travel, and indeed orthodox quantum mechanics and its

various interpretations postulate the existence of such non-locality. Yet,

the question of whether the EPR/B correlations imply non-locality and the

Edward N. Zalta Uri Nodelman Colin Allen John Perry

exact nature of this non-locality is a matter of ongoing controversy.

Principal Editor Senior Editor Associate Editor Faculty Sponsor

Focusing on EPR/B-type experiments, in this entry we consider the nature

Editorial Board

http://plato.stanford.edu/board.html of the various kinds of non-locality postulated by different interpretations

of quantum mechanics. Based on this consideration, we briefly discuss the

Library of Congress Catalog Data

ISSN: 1095-5054

compatibility of these interpretations with the special theory of relativity.

bers of the Friends of the SEP Society and by courtesy to SEP 2. Bell's theorem and non-locality

content contributors. It is solely for their fair use. Unauthorized 3. The analysis of factorizability

distribution is prohibited. To learn how to join the Friends of the 4. Action at a distance, holism and non-separability

SEP Society and obtain authorized PDF versions of SEP entries, 4.1 Action at a distance

please visit https://leibniz.stanford.edu/friends/ . 4.2 Holism

4.3 Non-separability

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Copyright c 2009 by the publisher 5. Holism, non-separability and action at a distance in quantum

The Metaphysics Research Lab mechanics

Center for the Study of Language and Information

5.1 Collapse theories

Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

5.2 Can action-at-a-distance co-exist with non-separability and

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics

Copyright c 2009 by the author holism?

Joseph Berkovitz 5.3 No-collapse theories

All rights reserved. 6. Superluminal causation

Copyright policy: http://plato.stanford.edu/info.html#c.

1

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

7. Superluminal signaling other, they each encounter a measuring apparatus that can be set to

7.1 Necessary and sufficient conditions for superluminal measure their spin components along various directions. Although the

signaling measurement events are distant from each other, so that no slower-than-

7.2 No-collapse theories light or light signal can travel between them, the measurement outcomes

7.3 Collapse theories are curiously correlated.[1] That is, while the outcome of each of the

7.4 The prospects of controllable probabilistic dependence distant spin measurements seems to be a matter of pure chance, they are

7.5 Superluminal signaling and action-at-a-distance correlated with each other: The joint probability of the distant outcomes is

8. The analysis of factorizability: implications for quantum non- different from the product of their single probabilities. For example, the

locality probability that each of the particles will spin clockwise about the z-axis

8.1 Non-separability, holism and action at a distance in a z-spin measurement (i.e., a measurement of the spin component along

8.2 Superluminal signaling the z direction) appears to be ½. Yet, the outcomes of such measurements

8.3 Relativity are perfectly anti-correlated: If the left-hand-side (L-) particle happens to

8.4 Superluminal causation spin clockwise (anti-clockwise) about the z-axis, the right-hand-side (R-)

8.5 On the origin and nature of parameter dependence particle will spin anti-clockwise (clockwise) about that axis. And this is

9. Can there be ‘local’ quantum theories? true even if the measurements are made simultaneously.

10. Can quantum non-locality be reconciled with relativity?

10.1 Collapse theories

10.2 No-collapse theories

10.3 Quantum causal loops and relativity

Bibliography

Other Internet Resources

Related Entries Figure 1: A schematic illustration of the EPR/B experiment.

Particle pairs in the spin singlet state are emitted in opposite

directions and when they are distant from each other (i.e., space-

1. Introduction like separated), they encounter measurement apparatuses that can

be set to measure spin components along various directions.

The quantum realm involves curious correlations between distant events.

A well-known example is David Bohm's (1951) version of the famous The curious EPR/B correlations strongly suggest the existence of non-

thought experiment that Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen proposed in 1935 local influences between the two measurement events, and indeed

(henceforth, the EPR/B experiment). Pairs of particles are emitted from a orthodox ‘collapse’ quantum mechanics supports this suggestion.

source in the so-called spin singlet state and rush in opposite directions According to this theory, before the measurements the particles do not

(see Fig. 1 below). When the particles are widely separated from each have any definite spin. The particles come to possess a definite spin only

other, they each encounter a measuring apparatus that can be set to with the first spin measurement, and the outcome of this measurement is a

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

with the first spin measurement, and the outcome of this measurement is a and Grassi 1994 and Redhead and La Riviere 1997.) On this view,

matter of chance. If, for example, the first measurement is a z-spin quantum states of systems do not always reflect their complete state.

measurement on the L-particle, the L-particle will spin either clockwise Quantum states of systems generally provide information about some of

or anti-clockwise about the z-axis with equal chance. And the outcome of the properties that systems possess and information about the probabilities

the L-measurement causes an instantaneous change in the spin properties of outcomes of measurements on them, and this information does not

of the distant R-particle. If the L-particle spins clockwise (anti-clockwise) generally reflect the complete state of the systems. In particular, the

about the z-axis, the R-particle will instantly spin anti-clockwise information encoded in the spin singlet state is about the probabilities of

(clockwise) about the same axis. (It is common to call spins in opposite measurement outcomes of spin properties in various directions, about the

directions ‘spin up’ and ‘spin down,’ where by convention a clockwise conditional probabilities that the L- (R-) particle has a certain spin

spinning may be called ‘spin up’ and anti-clockwise spinning may be property given that the R- (L-) particle has another spin property, and

called ‘spin down.’) about the anti-correlation between the spins that the particles may have in

any given direction (for more details, see section 5.1). Thus, the outcome

It may be argued that orthodox quantum mechanics is false, and that the of a z-spin measurement on the L-particle and the spin singlet state

non-locality postulated by it does not reflect any non-locality in the (interpreted as a state of knowledge) jointly provide information about the

quantum realm. Alternatively, it may be argued that orthodox quantum z-spin property of the R-particle. For example, if the outcome of the L-

mechanics is a good instrument for predictions rather than a fundamental measurement is z-spin ‘up,’ we know that the R-particle has z-spin

theory of the physical nature of the universe. On this instrumental ‘down’; and if we assume, as EPR did, that there is no curious action at a

interpretation, the predictions of quantum mechanics are not an adequate distance between the distant wings (and that the change of the quantum-

basis for any conclusion about non-locality: This theory is just an mechanical state of the particle pair in the L-measurement is only a

incredible oracle (or a crystal ball), which provides a very successful change in state of knowledge), we could also conclude that the R-particle

algorithm for predicting measurement outcomes and their probabilities, had z-spin ‘down’ even before the L-measurement occurs.

but it offers little information about ontological matters, such as the nature

of objects, properties and causation in the quantum realm. How could the L-outcome change our knowledge/ignorance about the R-

outcome if it has no influence on it? The simplest and most

Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen (1935) thought that quantum mechanics is straightforward reply is that the L- and the R- outcome have a common

incomplete and that the curious correlations between distant systems do cause that causes them to be correlated, so that knowledge of one outcome

not amount to action at a distance between them. The apparent provides knowledge about the other. [2] Yet, the question is whether the

instantaneous change in the R-particle's properties during the L- predictions of orthodox quantum mechanics, which have been highly

measurement is not really a change of properties, but rather a change of confirmed by various experiments, are compatible with the quantum

knowledge. (For more about the EPR argument, see the entry on the EPR realm being local in the sense of involving no influences between systems

argument, Redhead 1987, chapter 3, and Albert 1992, chapter 3. For between which light and slower-than-light signals cannot travel (i.e.,

discussions of the EPR argument in the relativistic context, see Ghirardi space-like separated systems). More particularly, the question is whether

and Grassi 1994 and Redhead and La Riviere 1997.) On this view, it is possible to construct a local, common-cause model of the EPR/B

4 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 5

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

it is possible to construct a local, common-cause model of the EPR/B denote the pair's state before any measurement occurs. Let l denote the

experiment, i.e., a model that postulates no influence between setting of the L-measurement apparatus to measure spin along the l-axis

systems/events in the distant wings of the experiment, and that the (i.e., the l-spin of the L-particle), and let r denote the setting of the R-

correlation between them are due to the state of the particle pair at the measurement apparatus to measure spin along the r-axis (i.e., the r-spin

source. In 1935, Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen believed that this is of the R-particle). Let xl be the outcome of a l-spin measurement in the L-

possible. But, as John Bell demonstrated in 1964, this belief is difficult to wing, and let yr be the outcome of a r-spin measurement in the R-wing;

uphold. where xl is either the L-outcome l-spin ‘up’ or the L-outcome l-spin

‘down,’ and yr is either the R-outcome r-spin ‘up’ or the R-outcome r-

2. Bell's theorem and non-locality spin ‘down.’ Let P λ l r(xl & yr) be the joint probability of the L- and the

R-outcome, and P λ l(xl) and P λ r(yr) be the single probabilities of the L-

In a famous theorem, John Bell (1964) demonstrated that granted some and the R-outcome, respectively; where the subscripts λ, l and r denote

plausible assumptions, any local model of the EPR/B experiment is the factors that are relevant for the probabilities of the outcomes xl and yr.

committed to certain inequalities about the probabilities of measurement Then, for any λ, l, r, xl and yr:[3]

outcomes, ‘the Bell inequalities,’ which are incompatible with the

quantum-mechanical predictions. When Bell proved his theorem, the Factorizability

EPR/B experiment was only a thought experiment. But due to P λ l r(xl & yr) = P λ l(xl) · P λ r(yr).

technological advances, various versions of this experiment have been

(Here and henceforth, for simplicity's sake we shall denote events and

conducted since the 1970s, and their results have overwhelmingly

states, such as the measurement outcomes, and the propositions that they

supported the quantum-mechanical predictions (for brief reviews of these

occur by the same symbols.)

experiments and further references, see the entry on Bell's theorem and

Redhead 1987, chapter 4, section 4.3 and ‘Notes and References’). Thus, a The state λ is typically thought of as the pair's state at the emission time,

wide consensus has it that the quantum realm involves some type of non- and it is assumed that this state does not change in any relevant sense

locality. between the emission and the first measurement. It is (generally) a

different state from the quantum-mechanical pair's state ψ. ψ is assumed

The basic idea of Bell's theorem is as follows. A model of the EPR/B

to be an incomplete state of the pair, whereas λ is supposed to be a (more)

experiment postulates that the state of the particle pair together with the

complete state of the pair. Accordingly, pairs with the same state ψ may

apparatus settings to measure (or not to measure) certain spin properties

have different states λ which give rise to different probabilities of

determine the probabilities for single and joint spin-measurement

outcomes for the same type of measurements. Also, the states λ may be

outcomes. A local Bell model of this experiment also postulates that

unknown, hidden, inaccessible or uncontrollable.

probabilities of joint outcomes factorize into the single probabilities of the

L- and the R- outcomes: The probability of joint outcomes is equal to the Factorizability is commonly motivated as a locality condition. In non-

product of the probabilities of the single outcomes. More formally, let λ local models of the EPR/B experiment, the correlations between the

denote the pair's state before any measurement occurs. Let l denote the distant outcomes are accounted for by non-local influences between the

6 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 7

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

distant measurement events. For example, in orthodox quantum

mechanics the first spin measurement on, say, the L-particle causes an

immediate change in the spin properties of the R-particle and in the

probabilities of future outcomes of spin measurements on this particle. By

contrast, in local models of this experiment the correlations are supposed

Figure 3: A space-time diagram of a local model of the EPR/B

to be accounted for by a common cause—the pair's state λ (see Fig. 2

experiment. The circles represent the measurement events, and the

below): The pair's state and the L-setting determine the probability of the

cones represent their backward light cones, i.e., the boundaries of

L-outcome; the pair's state and the R-setting determine the probability of

all the subluminal and luminal influences on them. The dotted

the R-outcome; and the pair's state and the L- and the R-setting determine

lines denote the propagation of the influences of the pair's state at

the probability of joint outcomes, which (as mentioned above) is simply

the emission and of the settings of the measurement apparatuses

the product of these single probabilities. The idea is that the probability of

on the measurement outcomes.

each of the outcomes is determined by ‘local events,’ i.e., events that are

confined to its backward light-cone, and which can only exert subluminal A Bell model of the EPR/B experiment also postulates that for each

or luminal influences on it (see Figure 3 below); and the distant outcomes quantum-mechanical state ψ there is a distribution ρ over all the possible

are fundamentally independent of each other, and thus their joint pair states λ, which is independent of the settings of the apparatuses. That

probability factorizes. (For more about this reasoning, see sections 6 and is, the distribution of the (‘complete’) states λ depends on the

8-9.) (‘incomplete’) state ψ, and this distribution is independent of the

particular choice of measurements in the L- and R-wing (including the

choice not to measure any quantity). Or formally, for any quantum-

mechanical state ψ, L-settings l and l′, and R-settings r and r′:

λ-independence

Figure 2: A schematic common-cause model of the EPR/B ρ ψ l r(λ) = ρ ψ l′ r(λ) = ρ ψ l r′ (λ) = ρ ψ l′ r′ (λ) = ρ ψ (λ)

experiment. Arrows denote causal connections.

where the subscripts denote the factors that are potentially relevant for the

distribution of the states λ.

prescribed by the states λ) are different from the corresponding quantum-

mechanical probabilities of outcomes (i.e., the probabilities prescribed by

the quantum-mechanical states ψ), the quantum mechanical probabilities

(which have been systematically confirmed) are recovered by averaging

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

(which have been systematically confirmed) are recovered by averaging the distribution of the possible pairs' states λ is dependent upon the

over the model probabilities. That is, it is supposed that the quantum- settings. Since the settings can be made after the emission of the particle

mechanical probabilities P ψ l r(xl & yr), P ψ l(xl) and P ψ r(yr) are pair from the source, this kind of violation of λ-independence would

obtained by averaging over the model probabilities P λ l r(xl & yr), P λ l require backward causation. (For advocates of this way out of non-

(xl) and P λ r(yr), respectively: For any ψ, l, r, xl and yr, locality, see Costa de Beauregard 1977, 1979, 1985, Sutherland 1983,

1998, 2006 and Price 1984, 1994, 1996, chapters 3, 8 and 9.) On some

Empirical Adequacy readings of John Cramer's (1980, 1986) transactional interpretation of

P ψ l r(xl & yr) = ∫λ P λ l r(xl & yr) · ρ ψ l r(λ) quantum mechanics (see Maudlin 1994, pp. 197-199), such violation of λ-

P ψ l(xl) = ∫λ P λ l(xl ) · ρ ψ l(λ) independence is postulated. According to this interpretation, the source

P ψ r(yr) = ∫λ P λ r(yr) · ρ ψ r(λ). [4] sends ‘offer’ waves forward to the measurement apparatuses, and the

apparatuses send ‘confirmation’ waves (from the space-time regions of

The assumption of λ-independence is very plausible. It postulates that

the measurement events) backward to the source, thus affecting the states

(complete) pair states at the source are uncorrelated with the settings of

of emitted pairs according to the settings of the apparatuses. The question

the measurement apparatuses. And independently of one's philosophical

of whether such a theory can reproduce the predictions of quantum

view about free will, this assumption is strongly suggested by our

mechanics is a controversial matter (see Maudlin 1994, pp. 197-199,

experience, according to which it seems possible to prepare the state of

Berkovitz 2002, section 5, and Kastner 2006). It is noteworthy, however,

particle pairs at the source independently of the set up of the measurement

that while the violation of λ-independence is sufficient for circumventing

apparatuses.

Bell's theorem, the failure of this condition per se does not substantiate

There are two ways to try to explain a failure of λ-independence. One locality. The challenge of providing a local model of the EPR/B

possible explanation is that pairs' states and apparatus settings share a experiment also applies to models that violate λ-independence. (For more

common cause, which always correlates certain types of pairs' states λ about these issues, see sections 9 and 10.3.)

with certain types of L- and R-setting. Such a causal hypothesis will be

In any case, as Bell's theorem demonstrates, factorizability, λ-

difficult to reconcile with the common belief that apparatus settings are

independence and empirical adequacy jointly imply the Bell inequalities,

controllable at experimenters' will, and thus could be set independently of

which are violated by the predictions of orthodox quantum mechanics

the pair's state at the source. Furthermore, thinking of all the different

(Bell 1964, 1966, 1971, 1975a,b). Granted the systematic confirmation of

ways one can measure spin properties and the variety of ways in which

the predictions of orthodox quantum mechanics and the plausibility of λ-

apparatus settings can be chosen, the postulation of such common cause

independence, Bell inferred that factorizability fails in the EPR/B

explanation for settings and pairs' states would seem highly ad hoc and its

experiment. Thus, interpreting factorizability as a locality condition, he

existence conspiratorial.

concluded that the quantum realm is non-local. (For further discussions of

Another possible explanation for the failure of λ-independence is that the Bell's theorem, the Bell inequalities and non-locality, see Bell 1966, 1971,

apparatus settings influence the pair's state at the source, and accordingly 1975a,b, 1981, Clauser et al 1969, Clauser and Horne 1974, Shimony

the distribution of the possible pairs' states λ is dependent upon the 1993, chapter 8, Fine 1982a,b, Redhead 1987, chapter 4, Butterfield 1989,

10 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 11

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

1993, chapter 8, Fine 1982a,b, Redhead 1987, chapter 4, Butterfield 1989, P λ l r(xl / yr) = P λ l r(xl) and P λ l r(yr / xl) = P λ l r(yr)

1992a, Pitowsky 1989, Greenberger, Horne and Zeilinger 1989,

P λ l r(yr) > 0 P λ l r(xl) > 0,

Greenberger, Horne, Shimony and Zeilinger 1990, Mermin 1990, and the

entry on Bell's theorem.) or more generally,

P λ l r(xl & yr) = P λ l r(xl) · P λ l r(yr).

Following Bell's work, a broad consensus has it that the quantum realm

involves some type of non-locality (for examples, see Clauser and Horne Assuming λ-independence (see section 2), any empirically adequate

1974, Jarrett 1984,1989, Shimony 1984, Redhead 1987, Butterfield 1989, theory will have to violate OI or PI. A common view has it that violations

1992a,b, 1994, Howard 1989, Healey 1991, 1992, 1994, Teller 1989, of PI involve a different type of non-locality than violations of OI:

Clifton, Butterfield and Redhead 1990, Clifton 1991, Maudlin 1994, Violations of PI involve some type of action-at-a-distance that is

Berkovitz 1995a,b, 1998a,b, and references therein). [5] But there is an impossible to reconcile with relativity (Shimony 1984, Redhead 1987, p.

ongoing controversy as to its exact nature and its compatibility with 108), whereas violations of OI involve some type of holism, non-

relativity theory. One aspect of this controversy is over whether the separability and/or passion-at-a-distance that may be possible to reconcile

analysis of factorizability and the different ways it could be violated may with relativity (Shimony 1984, Readhead 1987, pp. 107, 168-169, Howard

shed light on these issues. Factorizability is equivalent to the conjunction 1989, Teller 1989).

of two conditions (Jarrett 1984, 1989, Shimony 1984): [6]

On the other hand, there is the view that the analysis above (as well as

Parameter independence. The probability of a distant other similar analyses of factorizability [7]) is immaterial for studying

measurement outcome in the EPR/B experiment is independent of quantum non-locality (Butterfield 1992a, pp. 63-64, Jones and Clifton

the setting of the nearby measurement apparatus. Or formally, for 1993, Maudlin 1994, pp. 96 and 149) and even misleading (Maudlin 1994,

any pair's state λ, L-setting l, R-setting r, L-outcome xl and R- pp. 94-95 and 97-98). On this alternative view, the way to examine the

outcome yr: nature of quantum non-locality is to study the ontology postulated by the

various interpretations of quantum mechanics and alternative quantum

PI theories. [8] In sections 4-7, we shall follow this methodology and discuss

P λ l r(xl) = P λ l(xl) and P λ l r(yr) = P λ r(yr). the nature of non-locality postulated by several quantum theories. The

discussion in these sections will furnish the ground for evaluating the

Outcome independence. The probability of a distant above controversy in section 8.

measurement outcome in the EPR/B experiment is independent of

the nearby measurement outcome. Or formally, for any pair's state 4. Action at a distance, holism and non-separability

λ, L-setting l, R-setting r, L-outcome xl and R-outcome yr:

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

4.1 Action at a distance In the literature, there are various characterizations of holism. Discussions

of quantum non-locality frequently focus on property holism, where

In orthodox quantum mechanics as well as in any other current quantum certain physical properties of objects are not determined by the physical

theory that postulates non-locality (i.e., influences between distant, space- properties of their parts. The intuitive idea is that some intrinsic properties

like separated systems), the influences between the distant measurement of wholes (e.g. physical systems) are not determined by the intrinsic

events in the EPR/B experiment do not propagate continuously in space- properties of their parts and the spatiotemporal relations that obtain

time. They seem to involve action at a distance. Yet, a common view has between these parts. This idea can be expressed in terms of supervenience

it that these influences are due to some type of holism and/or non- relations.

separability of states of composite systems, which are characteristic of

systems in entangled states (like the spin singlet state), and which exclude Property Holism. Some objects have intrinsic qualitative

the very possibility of action at a distance. The paradigm case of action at properties and/or relations that do not supervene upon the intrinsic

a distance is the Newtonian gravitational force. This force acts between qualitative properties and relations of their parts and the

distinct objects that are separated by some (non-vanishing) spatial spatiotemporal relations between these parts.

distance, its influence is symmetric (in that any two massive objects

influence each other), instantaneous and does not propagate continuously It is difficult to give a general precise specification of the terms ‘intrinsic

in space. And it is frequently claimed or presupposed that such action at a qualitative property’ and ‘supervenience.’ Intuitively, a property of an

distance could only exist between systems with separate states in non- object is intrinsic just in case that object has this property in and for itself

holistic universes (i.e., universes in which the states of composite systems and independently of the existence or the state of any other object. A

are determined by, or supervene upon the states of their subsystems and property is qualitative (as opposed to individual) if it does not depend on

the spacetime relations between them), which are commonly taken to the existence of any particular object. And the intrinsic qualitative

characterize the classical realm.[9] properties of an object O supervene upon the intrinsic qualitative

properties and relations of its parts and the spatiotemporal relations

In sections 4.2 and 4.3, we shall briefly review the relevant notions of between them just in case there is no change in the properties and

holism and non-separability (for a more comprehensive review, see the relations of O without a change in the properties and relations of its parts

entry on holism and nonseparability in physics and Healey 1991). In and/or the spatiotemporal relations between them. (For attempts to

section 5, we shall discuss the nature of holism and non-separability in the analyze the term ‘intrinsic property,’ see for example Langton and Lewis

quantum realm as depicted by various quantum theories. Based on this 1998 and the entry on intrinsic vs. extrinsic properties. For a review of

discussion, we shall consider whether the non-local influences in the different types of supervenience, see for example Kim 1978, McLaughlin

EPR/B experiment constitute action at a distance. 1994 and the entry on supervenience.)

4.2 Holism Paul Teller (1989, p. 213) proposes a related notion of holism, ‘relational

holism,’ which is characterized as the violation of the following

condition:

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

condition: Like holism, there are various notions of non-separability on offer. The

most common notion in the literature is state non-separability, i.e., the

Particularism. The world is composed of individuals. All violation of the following condition:

individuals have non-relational properties and all relations

supervene on the non-relational properties of the relata. State separability. Each system possesses a separate state that

determines its qualitative intrinsic properties, and the state of any

Here, by a non-relational property Teller means an intrinsic property composite system is wholly determined by the separate states of

(1986a, p. 72); and by ‘the supervenience of a relational property on the its subsystems.

non-relational properties of the relata,’ he means that ‘if two objects, 1

and 2, bear a relation R to each other, then, necessarily, if two further The term ‘wholly determined’ is vague. But, as before, one may spell it

objects, 1′ and 2′ have the same non-relational properties, then 1′ and 2′ out in terms of supervenience relations: State separability obtains just in

will also bear the same relation R to each other’ (1989, p. 213). Teller case each system possesses a separate state that determines its qualitative

(1986b, pp. 425-7) believes that spatiotemporal relations between objects intrinsic properties and relations, and the state of any composite system is

supervene upon the objects’ intrinsic physical properties. Thus, he does supervenient upon the separate states of its subsystems.

not include the spatiotemporal relations in the supervenience basis. This

view is controversial, however, as many believe that spatiotemporal Another notion of non-separability is spatiotemporal non-separability.

relations between objects are neither intrinsic nor supervene upon the Inspired by Einstein (1948), Howard (1989, pp. 225-6) characterizes

intrinsic qualitative properties of these objects. But, if such supervenience spatiotemporal non-separability as the violation of the following

does not obtain, particularism will also be violated in classical physics, separability condition:

and accordingly relational holism will fail to mark the essential

Spatiotemporal separability. The contents of any two regions of

distinction between the classical and the quantum realms. Yet, one may

space-time separated by a non-vanishing spatiotemporal interval

slightly revise Teller's definition of particularism as follows:

constitute two separate physical systems. Each separated space-

Particularism*. The world is composed of individuals. All time region possesses its own, distinct state and the joint state of

individuals have non-relational properties and all relations any two separated space-time regions is wholly determined by the

supervene upon the non-relational properties of the relata and the separated states of these regions.

spatiotemporal relations between them.

A different notion of spatiotemporal non-separability, proposed by Healey

In what follows in this entry, by relational holism we shall mean a (see the entry on holism and nonseparability in physics), is process non-

violation of particularism*. separability. It is the violation of the following condition:

spacetime region R supervenes upon an assignment of qualitative

intrinsic physical properties at spacetime points in R.

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

intrinsic physical properties at spacetime points in R. having z-spin ‘down’ (i.e., spinning ‘down’ about the z-axis) can be

represented by the orthogonal vector, |z-down>. Particle pairs may be in a

5. Holism, non-separability and action at a distance state in which the L-particle and the R-particle have opposite spins, for

in quantum mechanics instance either a state |ψ1> in which the L-particle has z-spin ‘up’ and the

R-particle has z-spin ‘down,’ or a state |ψ 2> in which the L-particle has

The quantum realm as depicted by all the quantum theories that postulate z-spin ‘down’ and the R-particle has z-spin ‘up.’ Each of these states is

non-locality, i.e., influences between distant (space-like separated) represented by a tensor product of vectors in the Hilbert space of the

systems, involves some type of non-separability or holism. In what particle pair: |ψ1> = |z-up> L |z-down>R and |ψ 2> = |z-down>L |z-up> R ;

follows in this section, we shall consider the nature of the non-separability where the subscripts L and R refer to the Hilbert spaces associated with

and holism manifested by various interpretations of quantum mechanics. the L- and the R-particle, respectively. But particle pairs may also be in a

On the basis of this consideration, we shall address the question of superposition of these states, i.e., a state that is a linear sum of the states |

whether these interpretations predicate the existence of action at a ψ1> and |ψ 2>, e.g. the state represented by

distance. We start with the so-called ‘collapse theories.’

|ψ 3> = 1/√2 (|ψ 1> − |ψ 2>)

5.1 Collapse theories = 1/√2 (|z-up> L |z-down>R − |z-down>L |z-up> R ).

5.1.1 Orthodox quantum mechanics In fact, this is exactly the case in the spin singlet state. In this state, the

particles are entangled in a non-separable state (i.e., a state that cannot be

In orthodox quantum mechanics, normalized vectors in Hilbert spaces decomposed into a product of separate states of the L- and the R-particle),

represent states of physical systems. When the Hilbert space is of infinite in which (according to the property-assignment rules of orthodox

dimension, state vectors can be represented by functions, the so-called quantum mechanics) the particles do not possess any definite z-spin (or

‘wave functions.’ In any given basis, there is a unique wave function that definite spin in any other direction). Thus, the condition of state

corresponds to the state vector in that basis. (For an entry level review of separability fails: The state of the particle pair (which determines its

the highlights of the mathematical formalism and the basic principles of intrinsic qualitative properties) is not wholly determined by the separate

quantum mechanics, see the entry on quantum mechanics, Albert 1992, states of the particles (which determine their intrinsic qualitative

Hughes 1989, Part I, and references therein; for more advanced reviews, properties). Or more precisely, the pair's state is not supervenient upon

see Bohm 1951 and Redhead 1987, chapters 1-2 and the mathematical the separable states of the particles. In particular, the superposition state

appendix.) of the particle pair assigns a ‘correlational’ property that dictates that the

outcomes of (ideal) z-spin measurements on both the L- and the R-

For example, the state of the L-particle having z-spin ‘up’ (i.e., spinning

particle will be anti-correlated, and this correlational property is not

‘up’ about the z-axis) can be represented by the vector |z-up> in the

supervenient upon properties assigned by any separable states of the

Hilbert space associated with the L-particle, and the state of the L-particle

particles (for more details, see Healey 1992, 1994). For similar reasons,

having z-spin ‘down’ (i.e., spinning ‘down’ about the z-axis) can be

the spin singlet state also involves property and relational holism; for the

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Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

the spin singlet state also involves property and relational holism; for the equation and the property assignment rule called ‘eigenstate-eigenvalue

above correlational property of the particle pair also fails to supervene link.’ According to the eigenstate-eigenvalue link, a physical observable,

upon the intrinsic qualitative properties of the particles and the i.e., a physical quantity, of a system has definite value (one of its

spatiotemporal relations between them. Furthermore, the process that eigenvalues) just in case the system is in the corresponding eigenstate of

leads to each of the measurement outcomes is also non-separable, i.e., that observable (see the entry on quantum mechanics, section 4).

process separability fails (see Healey 1994 and the entry on holism and Microscopic systems may be in a superposition state of spin components,

nonseparability in physics). energies, positions, momenta as well as other physical observables.

Accordingly, microscopic systems may be in a state of indefinite z-spin,

This correlational property is also ‘responsible’ for the action at a energy, position, momentum and various other quantities. The problem is

distance that the orthodox theory seems to postulate between the distant that given the linear and unitary Schrödinger dynamics, these indefinite

wings in the EPR/B experiment. Recall (section 1) that Einstein, Podolsky quantities are also endemic in the macroscopic realm. For example, in a z-

and Rosen thought that this curious action at a distance reflects the spin measurement on a particle in a superposition state of z-spin ‘up’ and

incompleteness of this theory rather than a state of nature. The EPR z-spin ‘down,’ the position of the apparatus’s pointer gets entangled with

argument for the incompleteness of the orthodox theory is controversial. the indefinite z-spin of the particle, thus transforming the pointer into a

But the orthodox theory seems to be incomplete for a different reason. state of indefinite position, i.e., a superposition of pointing ‘up’ and

This theory postulates that in non-measurement interactions, the evolution pointing ‘down’ (see Albert 1992, chapter 4, and the entry on collapse

of states obeys a linear and unitary equation of motion, the so-called theories, section 3). In particular, in the EPR/B experiment the L-

Schrödinger equation (see the entry on quantum mechanics), according to measurement causes the L-apparatus pointer to get entangled with the

which the particle pair in the EPR/B experiment remains in an entangled particle pair, transforming it into a state of indefinite position:

state. This equation of motion also dictates that in a spin measurement,

the pointers of the measurement apparatuses get entangled with the |ψ4> = 1/√2 (|z-up> L |z-down>R |up> LA − |z-down>L |z-up> R |down>LA)

particle pair in a non-separable state in which (according to the theory's

property assignment, see below) the indefiniteness of particles’ spins is where |up> LA and |down>LA are the states of the L-apparatus pointer

‘transmitted’ to the pointer's position: In this entangled state of the displaying the outcomes z-spin ‘up’ and z-spin ‘down,’ respectively.

particle pair and the pointer, the pointer lacks any definite position, in Since the above type of indefiniteness is generic in orthodox no-collapse

contradiction to our experience of perceiving it pointing to either ‘up’ or quantum mechanics, in this theory measurements typically have no

‘down.’ definite outcomes, in contradiction to our experience.

The above problem, commonly called ‘the measurement problem,’ arises In order to solve this problem, the orthodox theory postulates that in

in orthodox no-collapse quantum mechanics from two features that measurement interactions, entangled states of measured systems and the

account very successfully for the behavior of microscopic systems: The corresponding measurement apparatuses do not evolve according to the

linear dynamics of quantum states as described by the Schrödinger Schrödinger equation. Rather, they undergo a ‘collapse’ into product

equation and the property assignment rule called ‘eigenstate-eigenvalue (non-entangled) states, where the systems involved have the relevant

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

(non-entangled) states, where the systems involved have the relevant Rimini 1990, and Butterfield et al. 1993). Similarly to orthodox collapse

definite properties. For example, the entangled state of the particle pair quantum mechanics, in the GRW models the quantum-mechanical state of

and the L-apparatus in the EPR/B experiment may collapse into a product systems (whether it is expressed by a vector or a wave function) provides

state in which the L-particle comes to possess z-spin ‘up,’ the R-particle a complete specification of their intrinsic properties and relations. The

comes to possess z-spin ‘down’ and the L-apparatus pointer displaying state of systems follows the Schrödinger equation, except that it has a

the outcome z-spin ‘up’: probability for spontaneous collapse, independently of whether or not the

systems are measured. The chance of collapse depends on the ‘size’ of the

|ψ5> = |z-up> L |z-down>R |up> LA. entangled systems—in the earlier models the ‘size’ of systems is

predicated on the number of the elementary particles, whereas in later

The problem is that in the orthodox theory, the notions of measurement

models it is measured in terms of mass densities. In any case, in

and the time, duration and nature of state collapses remain completely

microscopic systems, such as the particle pairs in the EPR/B experiment,

unspecified. As John Bell (1987b, p. 205) remarks, the collapse postulate

the chance of collapse is very small and negligible—the chance of

in this theory, i.e., the postulate that dictates that in measurement

spontaneous state collapse in such systems is cooked up so that it will

interactions the entangled states of the relevant systems do not follow the

occur, on average, every hundred million years or so. This means that the

Schrödinger equation but rather undergo a collapse, is no more than

chance that the entangled state of the particle pair in the EPR/B

‘supplementary, imprecise, verbal, prescriptions.’

experiment will collapse to a product state between the emission from the

This problem of accounting for our experience of perceiving definite source and the first measurement is virtually zero. In an earlier L-

measurement outcomes in orthodox quantum mechanics, is an aspect of measurement, the state of the particle pair gets entangled with the state of

the more general problem of accounting for the classical-like behavior of the L-measurement apparatus. Thus, the state of the pointer of the L-

macroscopic systems in this theory. apparatus evolves from being ‘ready’ to measure a certain spin property

to an indefinite outcome. For instance, in a z-spin measurement the L-

5.1.2 Dynamical models for state vector reduction apparatus gets entangled with the particle pair in a superposition state of

pointing to ‘up’ and pointing to ‘down’ (corresponding to the states of the

The dynamical models for state-vector reduction were developed to L-particle having z-spin ‘up’ and having z-spin ‘down’), and the R-

account for state collapses as real physical processes (for a review of the apparatus remains un-entangled with these systems in the state of being

collapse models and a detailed reference list, see the entry on collapse ready to measure z-spin. Or formally:

theories). The origin of the collapse models may be dated to Bohm and

Bub's (1966) hidden variable theory and Pearle's (1976) spontaneous |ψ6> = 1/√2 (|z-up>L |up>AL |z-down> R − |z-down> L |down>AL |z-up>R) |ready>AR

localization approach, but the program has received its crucial impetus

where, as before, |up> AL and |down>AL denote the states of the L-

with the more sophisticated models developed by Ghirardi, Rimini and

apparatus displaying the outcomes z-spin ‘up’ and ‘down’ respectively,

Weber in 1986 (see also Bell 1987a and Albert 1992) and their

and |ready>AR denotes the state of the R-apparatus being ready to

consequent development by Pearle (1989) (see also Ghirardi, Pearle and

Rimini 1990, and Butterfield et al. 1993). Similarly to orthodox collapse

22 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 23

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

measure z-spin. In this state, a gigantic number of particles of the L- the outcome ‘down,’ the GRW collapse models would successfully

apparatus pointer are entangled together in the superposition state of resolve the measurement problem. Technically speaking, a precise

being in the position (corresponding to pointing to) ‘up’ and the position localization is achieved by multiplying |ψ7> by a delta function centered

(corresponding to pointing to) ‘down.’ For assuming, for simplicity of on the position corresponding to either the outcome ‘up’ or the outcome

presentation, that the position of all particles of the L-apparatus pointer in ‘down’ (see the entry on collapse theories, section 5 and Albert 1992,

the state of pointing to ‘up’ (‘down’) is the same, the state |ψ6> can be chapter 5); where the probability of each of these mutually exhaustive

rewritten as: possibilities is ½. The problem is that it follows from the uncertainty

principle (see the entry on the uncertainty principle) that in such

|ψ7> = 1/√2 (|z-up>L |up>p1 |up>p2 |up>p3 … |z-down> R − localizations the momenta and the energies of the localized particles

|z-down> L |down>p1 |down>p2 |down>p3 … |z-up>R) |ready >AR would be totally uncertain, so that gases may spontaneously heat up and

electrons may be knocked out of their orbits, in contradiction to our

where pi denotes the i-particle of the L-apparatus pointer, and |up> pi

experience. To avoid this kind of problems, GRW postulated that

(|down> pi ) is the state of the i-particle being in the position corresponding

spontaneous localizations are characterized by multiplications by

to the outcome z-spin ‘up’ (‘down’). [10] The chance that at least one of

Gaussians that are centered around certain positions, e.g. the position

the vast number of the pointer's particles will endure a spontaneous

corresponding to either the outcome ‘up’ or the outcome ‘down’ in the

localization toward being in the position corresponding to either the

state |ψ7>. This may be problematic, because in either case the state of

outcome z-spin ‘up’ or the outcome z-spin ‘down’ within a very short

the L-apparatus pointer at (what we characteristically conceive as) the

time (a split of a micro second) is very high. And since all the particles of

end of the L-measurement would be a superposition of the positions ‘up’

the pointer and the particle pair are entangled with each other, such a

and ‘down.’ For although this superposition ‘concentrates’ on either the

collapse will carry with it a collapse of the entangled state of the pointer

outcome ‘up’ or the outcome ‘down’ (i.e., the peak of the wave function

of the L-apparatus and the particle pair toward either

that corresponds to this state concentrates on one of these positions), it

|z-up> L |up> p1 |up> p2 |up> p3 … |z-down>R also has ‘tails’ that go everywhere: The state of the L-apparatus is a

superposition of an infinite number of different positions. Thus, it follows

or from the eigenstate-eigenvalue link that the position observable of the L-

apparatus has no definite value at the end of the measurement. But if the

|z-down>L |down>p1 |down>p2 |down>p3 … |z-up> R .

position observable having a definite value is indeed required in order for

Thus, the pointer will very quickly move in the direction of pointing to the L-apparatus to have a definite location, then the pointer will point to

either the outcome z-spin ‘up’ or the outcome z-spin ‘down.’ neither ‘up’ nor ‘down,’ and the GRW collapse models will fail to

reproduce the classical-like behavior of such systems. [11]

If (as portrayed above) the spontaneous localization of particles were to a

precise position, i.e., to the position corresponding to the outcome ‘up’ or In later models, GRW proposed to interpret the quantum state as a density

the outcome ‘down,’ the GRW collapse models would successfully of mass and they postulated that if almost all the density of mass of a

system is concentrated in a certain region, then the system is located in

24 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 25

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

5.2 Can action-at-a-distance co-exist with non-separability and

that region. Accordingly, pointers of measurement apparatuses do have holism?

definite positions at the end of measurement interactions. Yet, this

solution has also given rise to a debate (see Albert and Loewer 1995, The action at a distance in the GRW/Pearle models is different from the

Lewis 1997, 2003a, 2004, Ghirardi and Bassi 1999, Bassi and Ghirardi Newtonian action at a distance in various respects. First, in contrast to

1999, 2001, Clifton and Monton 1999, 2000, Frigg 2003, and Parker Newtonian action at a distance, this action is independent of the distance

2003). between the measurement events. Second, while Newtonian action is

symmetric, the action in the GRW/Pearle models is (generally)

The exact details of the collapse mechanism and its characteristics in the

asymmetric: Either the L-measurement influences the properties of the R-

GRW/Pearle models have no significant implications for the type of non-

particle or the R-measurement influences the properties of the L-particle,

separability and holism they postulate—all these models basically

depending on which measurement occurs first (the action will be

postulate the same kinds of non-separability and holism as orthodox

symmetric when both measurements occur simultaneously). Third (and

quantum mechanics (see section 5.1.1). And action at a distance between

more important to our consideration), in contrast to Newtonian action at a

the L- and the R-wing will occur if the L-measurement interaction, a

distance, before the end of the L-measurement the state of the L-

supposedly local event in the L-wing, causes some local events in the R-

apparatus and the R-particle is not separable and accordingly it is not

wing, such as the event of the pointer of the measurement apparatus

clear that the influence is between separate existences, as the case is

coming to possess a definite measurement outcome during the R-

supposed to be in Newtonian gravity.

measurement. That is, action at a distance will occur if the L-

measurement causes the R-particle to come to possess a definite z-spin This non-separability of the states of the particle pair and the L-

and this in turn causes the pointer of the R-apparatus to come to possess measurement apparatus, and more generally the fact that the non-locality

the corresponding measurement outcome in the R-measurement. in collapse theories is due to state non-separability, has led a number of

Furthermore, if the L-measurement causes the R-particle to come to philosophers and physicists to think that wave collapses do not involve

possess (momentarily) a definite position in the R-wing, then the action at action at a distance. Yet, the question of whether there is an action at a

a distance between the L- and the R-wing will occur independently of distance in the GRW/Pearle models (and various other quantum theories)

whether the R-particle undergoes a spin measurement. depends on how we interpret the term ‘action at a distance.’ And, as I will

suggest below, on a natural reading of Isaac Newton's and Samuel

The above discussion is based on an intuitive notion of action at a

Clarke's comments concerning action at a distance, there may be a

distance and it presupposes that action at a distance is compatible with

peaceful coexistence between action at a distance and non-separability

non-separability and holism. In the next section we shall provide more

and holism.

precise characterizations of action at a distance and in light of these

characterizations reconsider the question of the nature of action at a Newton famously struggled to find out the cause of gravity.[12] In a letter

distance in the GRW/Pearle collapse models. to Bentley, dated January 17 1692/3, he said:

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

You sometimes speak of Gravity as essential and inherent to

a cause capable of producing such an effect, is undoubtedly true.

Matter. Pray do not ascribe that Notion to me, for the Cause of

Philosophers therefore can search after and discover that cause, if

Gravity is what I do not pretend to know, and therefore would take

they can; be it mechanical or not. But if they cannot discover the

more Time to consider it. (Cohen 1978, p. 298)

cause, is therefore the effect itself, the phenomenon, or the matter

In a subsequent letter to Bentley, dated February 25, 1692/3, he added: of fact discovered by experience … ever the less true?

It is inconceivable that inanimate Matter should, without the Newton's and Clarke's comments suggest that for them gravity was a law-

Mediation of something else, which is not material, operate upon, governed phenomenon, i.e., a phenomenon in which objects influence

and affect other matter without mutual Contact…That Gravity each other at a distance according to the Newtonian law of gravity, and

should be innate, inherent and essential to Matter, so that one body that this influence is due to some means which may be invisible and

may act upon another at a distance thro’ a Vacuum, without the intangible and of a different nature from mechanism. On this conception

Mediation of any thing else, by and through which their Action of action at a distance, there seems to be no reason to exclude the

and Force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great possibility of action at a distance in the quantum realm even if that realm

an Absurdity that I believe no Man who has in philosophical is holistic or the state of the relevant systems is non-separable. That is,

Matters a competent Faculty of thinking can ever fall into it. action at a distance may be characterized as follows:

Gravity must be caused by an Agent acting constantly according to

Action at a distance is a phenomenon in which a change in

certain laws; but whether this Agent be material or immaterial, I

intrinsic properties of one system induces a change in the intrinsic

have left to the Consideration of my readers. (Cohen 1978, pp.

properties of a distant system, independently of the influence of

302-3)

any other systems on the distant system, and without there being a

Samuel Clarke, Newton's follower, similarly struggled with the question process that carries this influence contiguously in space and time.

of the cause of gravitational phenomenon. In his famous controversy with

We may alternatively characterize action at a distance in a more liberal

Leibniz, he said:[13]

way:

That one body attracts another without any intermediate means, is

Action* at a distance is a phenomenon in which a change in

indeed not a miracle but a contradiction; for 'tis supposing

intrinsic properties of one system induces a change in the intrinsic

something to act where it is not. But the means by which two

properties of a distant system without there being a process that

bodies attract each other, may be invisible and intangible and of a

carries this influence contiguously in space and time.

different nature from mechanism …

And while Newton and Clarke did not have an explanation for the action

And he added:

at a distance involved in Newtonian gravity, on the above

characterizations action at a distance in the quantum realm would be

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

characterizations action at a distance in the quantum realm would be and their wave function determine the outcomes of any measurements (so

explained by the holistic nature of the quantum realm and/or non- long as these outcomes are recorded in the positions of some physical

separability of the states of the systems involved. In particular, if in the systems, as in any practical measurements).

EPR/B experiment the L-apparatus pointer has a definite position before

the L-measurement and the R-particle temporarily comes to possess There are various versions of Bohm's theory. In the ‘minimal’ Bohm

definite position during the L-measurement, then the GRW/Pearle models theory, formulated by Bell (1982), [15] the wave function is interpreted as

involve action at a distance and thus also action* at a distance. On the a ‘guiding’ field (which has no source or any dependence on the particles)

other hand, if the R-particle never comes to possess a definite position that deterministically governs the trajectories of the particles according to

during the L-measurement, then the GRW/Pearle models only involve the so-called ‘guiding equation’ (which expresses the velocities of the

action* at a distance. particles in terms of the wave function). [16] The states of systems are

separable (the state of any composite system is completely determined by

5.3 No-collapse theories the state of its subsystems), and they are completely specified by the

particles’ positions. Spins, and any other properties which are not directly

5.3.1 Bohm's theory derived from positions, are not intrinsic properties of systems. Rather,

they are relational properties that are determined by the systems’ positions

In 1952, David Bohm proposed a deterministic, ‘hidden variables’ and the guiding field. In particular, each of the particles in the EPR/B

quantum theory that reproduces all the observable predictions of orthodox experiment has dispositions to ‘spin’ in various directions, and these

quantum mechanics (see Bohm 1952, Bohm, Schiller and Tiomno 1955, dispositions are relational properties of the particles— they are (generally)

Bell 1982, Dewdney, Holland and Kyprianidis 1987, Dürr, Goldstein and determined by the guiding field and the positions of the particles relative

Zanghì 1992a, 1997, Albert 1992, Valentini 1992, Bohm and Hiley 1993, to the measurement apparatuses and to each other.

Holland 1993, Cushing 1994, and Cushing, Fine and Goldstein 1996; for

an entry level review, see the entry on Bohmian mechanics and Albert

1992, chapter 5).

models, in Bohm's theory wave functions always evolve according to the

Schrödinger equation, and thus they never collapse. Wave functions do

not represent the states of systems. Rather, they are states of a ‘quantum

field (on configuration space)’ that influences the states of systems. [14]

Also, particles always have definite positions, and the positions of the

particles and their wave function at a certain time jointly determine the

trajectories of the particles at all future times. Thus, particles’ positions

and their wave function determine the outcomes of any measurements (so

Figure 4. The EPR/B experiment with Stern-Gerlach

30 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 31

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

Figure 4. The EPR/B experiment with Stern-Gerlach the particles that are emitted below this plane, like the L-particles 4-6,

measurement devices. Stern-Gerlach 1 is on, set up to measure the will be disposed to spin ‘down.’ Similarly, if the R-measurement occurs

z-spin of the L-particle, and Stern-Gerlach 2 is off. The horizontal before the L-measurement, the guiding field and the position of the R-

lines in the left-hand-side denote the trajectories of six L-particles particle at the emission time jointly determine the disposition of the R-

in the spin singlet state after an (impulsive) z-spin measurement particle to emerge either above the z-axis (i.e., to z-spin ‘up’) or below the

on the L-particle, and the horizontal lines in the right-hand-side z-axis (i.e., to z-spin ‘down’) according to whether it is above or below

denote the trajectories of the corresponding R-particles. The center the center plane, independently of the position of the L-particle along the

plane is aligned orthogonally to the z-axis, so that particles that z-axis.

emerge above this plane correspond to z-spin ‘up’ outcome and

particles that emerge below this plane correspond to z-spin ‘down’ But the z-spin disposition of the R-particle changes immediately after an

outcome. The little arrows denote the z-spin components of the (earlier) z-spin measurement on the L-particle: The R-particles 1-3 (see

particles in the ‘non-minimal’ Bohm theory (where spins are Fig. 4), which were previously disposed to z-spin ‘up,’ will now be

intrinsic properties of particles), and are irrelevant for the disposed to z-spin ‘down,’ i.e., to emerge below the center plane aligned

‘minimal’ Bohm theory (where spins are not intrinsic properties of orthogonally to the z-axis; and the R-particles 4-6, which were previously

particles). disposed to z-spin ‘down,’ will now be disposed to z-spin ‘up,’ i.e., to

emerge above this center plane. Yet, the L-measurement per se does not

To see the nature of non-locality postulated by the minimal Bohm theory, have any immediate influence on the state of the R-particle: The L-

consider again the EPR/B experiment and suppose that the measurement measurement does not influence the position of the R-particle or any

apparatuses are Stern-Gerlach (S-G) magnets which are prepared to other property that is directly derived from this position. It only changes

measure z-spin. In any run of the experiment, the measurement outcomes the guiding field, and thus grounds new spin dispositions for the R-

will depend on the initial positions of the particles and the order of the particle. But these dispositions are not intrinsic properties of the R-

measurements. Here is why. In the minimal Bohm theory, the spin singlet particle. Rather, they are relational properties of the R-particle, which are

state denotes the relevant state of the guiding field rather than the intrinsic grounded in the positions of both particles and the state of the guiding

properties of the particle pair. If the L-measurement occurs before the R- field.[17] (Note that in the particular case in which the L-particle is

measurement, the guiding field and the position of the L-particle at the emitted above the center plane aligned orthogonally to the z-axis and the

emission time jointly determine the disposition of the L-particle to R-particle is emitted below that plane, an earlier z-spin on the L-particle

emerge from the S-G device either above or below a plane aligned in the will have no influence on the outcome of a z-spin on the R-particle.)

z-direction; where emerging above (below) the plane means that the L-

particle z-spins ‘up’ (‘down’) about the z-axis and the L-apparatus While there is no contiguous process to carry the influence of the L-

‘pointer’ points to ‘up’ (‘down’) (see Fig. 4 above). All the L-particles measurement outcome on events in the R-wing, the question of whether

that are emitted above the center plane aligned orthogonally to the z- this influence amounts to action at a distance depends on the exact

direction, like the L-particles 1-3, will be disposed to spin ‘up’; and all characterization of this term. In contrast to the GRW/Pearle collapse

the particles that are emitted below this plane, like the L-particles 4-6, models, the influence of the L-measurement outcome on the intrinsic

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

models, the influence of the L-measurement outcome on the intrinsic does not involve state non-separability. For recall that in this theory the

properties of the R-particle is dependent on the R-measurement: Before state of a system does not consist in its wave function, but rather in the

this measurement occurs, there are no changes in the R-particle's intrinsic system's position, and the position of a composite system always

properties. Yet, the influence of the L-measurement on the R-particle is at factorizes into the positions of its subsystems. Here, the non-separability

a distance. Thus, the EPR/B experiment as depicted by the minimal Bohm of the wave function reflects the state of the guiding field. This state

theory involves action* at a distance but not action at a distance. propagates not in ordinary three-space but in configuration space, where

each point specifies the configuration of both particles. The guiding field

Bohm's theory portrays the quantum realm as deterministic. Thus, the of the particle pair cannot be factorized into the guiding field that governs

single-case objective probabilities, i.e., the chances, it assigns to the trajectory of the L-particle and the guiding field that governs the

individual spin-measurement outcomes in the EPR/B experiment are trajectory of the R-particle. The evolution of the particles’ trajectories,

different from the corresponding quantum-mechanical probabilities. In properties and dispositions is non-separable, and accordingly the

particular, while in quantum mechanics the chances of the outcomes ‘up’ particles’ trajectories, properties and dispositions are correlated even

and ‘down’ in an earlier L- (R-) spin measurement are both ½, in Bohm's when the particles are far away from each other and do not interact with

theory these chances are either one or zero. Yet, Bohm's theory postulates each other. Thus, process separability fails.

a certain distribution, the so-called ‘quantum-equilibrium distribution,’

over all the possible positions of pairs with the same guiding field. This In the non-minimal Bohm theory [18], the behavior of an N-particle system

distribution is computed from the quantum-mechanical wave function, is determined by its wave function and the intrinsic properties of the

and it is typically interpreted as ignorance over the actual position of the particles. But, in contrast to the minimal theory, in the non-minimal

pair; an ignorance that may be motivated by dynamical considerations and theory spins are intrinsic properties of particles. The wave function

statistical patterns exhibited by ensembles of pairs with the same wave always evolves according to the Schrödinger equation, and it is

function (for more details, see the entry on bohmian mechanics, section interpreted as a ‘quantum field’ (which has no sources or any dependence

9). And the sum-average (or more generally the integration) over this on the particles). The quantum field guides the particles via the ‘quantum

distribution reproduces all the quantum-mechanical observable potential,’ an entity which is determined from the quantum field, and the

predictions. evolution of properties is fully deterministic.[19]

What is the status of this probability postulate? Is it a law of nature or a Like in the minimal Bohm theory, the non-separability of the wave

contingent fact (if it is a fact at all)? The answers to these questions vary function in the EPR/B experiment dictates that the evolution of the

(see Section 7.2.1, Bohm 1953, Valentini 1991a,b, 1992, 1996, 2002, particles’ trajectories, properties and dispositions is non-separable, but the

Valentini and Westman 2004, Dürr, Goldstein and Zanghì 1992a,b, 1996, behavior of the particles is somewhat different. In the earlier z-spin

fn. 15, and Callender 2006). measurement on the L-particle, the quantum potential continuously

changes, and this change induces an immediate change in the z-spin of the

Turning to the question of non-separability, the minimal Bohm theory R-particle. If the L-particle starts to spin ‘up’ (‘down’) in the z-direction,

does not involve state non-separability. For recall that in this theory the the R-particle will start to spin ‘down’ (‘up’) in the same direction (see

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

the R-particle will start to spin ‘down’ (‘up’) in the same direction (see always evolve according to unitary and linear dynamical equations (the

the little arrows in Fig. 4).[20] Accordingly, the L-measurement induces Schrödinger equation in the non-relativistic case). And the orthodox

instantaneous action at a distance between the L- and the R-wing. Yet, quantum-mechanical state description of systems is supplemented by a set

similarly to the minimal Bohm theory, while the disposition of the R- of properties, which depends on the quantum-mechanical state and which

particle to emerge above or below the center plane aligned orthogonally to is supposed to be rich enough to account for the occurrence of definite

the z-direction in a z-spin measurement may change instantaneously, the macroscopic events and their classical-like behavior, but sufficiently

actual trajectory of the R-particle along the z-direction does not change restricted to escape all the known no-hidden-variables theorems. (For

before the measurement of the R-particle's z-spin occurs. Only during the modal interpretations, see van Fraassen 1973, 1981, 1991, chapter 9,

R-measurement, the spin and the position of the R-particle get correlated Kochen 1985, Krips 1987, Dieks 1988, 1989, Healey 1989, Bub 1992,

and the R-particle's trajectory along the z-direction is dictated by the 1994, 1997, Vermaas and Dieks 1995, Clifton 1995, Bacciagaluppi 1996,

value of its (intrinsic) z-spin. Bacciagaluppi and Hemmo 1996, Bub and Clifton 1996, Hemmo 1996b,

Bacciagaluppi and Dickson 1999, Clifton 2000, Spekkens and Sipe

Various objections have been raised against Bohm's theory (for a detailed 2001a,b, Bene and Dieks 2002, and Berkovitz and Hemmo 2006a,b. For

list and replies, see the entry on Bohmian mechanics, section 15). One an entry-level review, see the entry on modal interpretations of quantum

main objection is that in Bohmian mechanics, the guiding field influences theory. For comprehensive reviews and analyses of modal interpretations,

the particles, but the particles do not influence the guiding field. Another see Bacciagaluppi 1996, Hemmo 1996a, chapters 1-3, Dieks and Vermaas

common objection is that the theory is involved with a radical type of 1998, Vermaas 1999, and the entry on modal interpretations of quantum

non-locality, and that this type of non-locality is incompatible with theory. For the no-hidden-variables theorems, see Kochen and Specker

relativity. While it may be very difficult, or even impossible, to reconcile 1967, Greenberger, Horne and Zeilinger 1989, Mermin 1990 and the entry

Bohm's theory with relativity, as is not difficult to see from the above on the Kochen-Specker theorem.) [21]

discussion, the type of non-locality that the minimal Bohm theory

postulates in the EPR/B experiment does not seem more radical than the Modal interpretations vary in their property assignment. For simplicity,

non-locality postulated by the orthodox interpretation and the we shall focus on modal interpretations in which the property assignment

GRW/Pearle collapse models. is based on the so-called Schmidt biorthogonal-decomposition theorem

(see Kochen 1985, Dieks 1989, and Healey 1989). Let S1 and S2 be

5.3.2 Modal interpretations systems associated with the Hilbert spaces HS1 and HS2, respectively.

There exist bases {|αi>} and {|β i>} for HS1 and HS2 respectively such

Modal interpretations of quantum mechanics were designed to solve the that the state of S1+S2 can be expressed as a linear combination of the

measurement problem and to reconcile quantum mechanics with following form of vectors from these bases:

relativity. They are no-collapse, (typically) indeterministic hidden-

variables theories. Quantum-mechanical states of systems (which may be |ψ8 > S1+S2 = ∑ i ci |α i> S1 |β i> S2.

construed as denoting their states or information about these states)

always evolve according to unitary and linear dynamical equations (the

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

(similarly to the state |ψ9>) the L- and the R-particle have definite z-spin

When the absolute values of the coefficients ci are all unequal, the bases properties: Either the L-particle has z-spin ‘up’ and the R-particle has z-

{|αi>} and {|β i>} and the above decomposition of |ψ 8 > S1+S2 are unique. spin ‘down,’ or the L-particle has z-spin ‘down’ and the R-particle has z-

In that case, it is postulated that S1 has a determinate value for each spin ‘up,’ [24] where the probability of the realization of each of these

observable associated with HS1 with the basis {|α i>} and S2 has a possibilities is approximately 1/2. In the (earlier) z-spin measurement on

determinate value for each observable associated with HS2 with the basis the L-particle, the state of the particle pair and the apparatuses evolves to

{|βi>}, and |ci| 2 provide the (ignorance) probabilities of the possible the state:

values that these observables may have.[22] For example, suppose that the

state of the L- and the R-particle in the EPR/B experiment before the |ψ11> = ((1/√2+ε) |z-up>L|up>AL | z-down> R −

|ψ9> = (1/√2+ε) |z-up> L| z-down>R − (1/√2-ε′) |z-down>L| z-up> R where (as before) |up> AL and |down>AL denote the states of the L-

apparatus pointing to the outcomes z-spin ‘up’ and z-spin ‘down’,

where 1/√2 >> ε,ε′, (1/√2+ε) 2+(1/√2-ε′)2 = 1, and (as before) |z-up> L (|z- respectively. In this state, either the L-particle has a z-spin ‘up’ and the L-

up> R ) and | z-down>L (| z-down>R ) denote the states of the L- (R-) apparatus points to ‘up,’ or the L-particle has z-spin ‘down’ and the L-

particle having z-spin ‘up’ and z-spin ‘down’, respectively.[23] Then, apparatus points to ‘down.’ And, again, the probability of each of these

either the L-particle spins ‘up’ and the R-particle spins ‘down’ in the z- possibilities is approximately 1/2. The evolution of the properties from

direction, or the L-particle spins ‘down’ and the R-particle spins ‘up’ in the state |ψ10> to the state |ψ 11> depends on the dynamical laws. In

the z-direction. Thus, in contrast to the orthodox interpretation and the almost all modal interpretations, if the particles have definite z-spin

GRW/Pearle collapse models, in modal interpretations the particles in the properties before the measurements, the outcomes of z-spin measurements

EPR/B experiment may have definite spin properties even before any will reflect these properties. That is, the evolution of the properties of the

measurement occurs. particles and the measurement apparatuses will be deterministic, so that

the spin properties of the particles do not change in the L-measurement

To see how the modal interpretation accounts for the curious correlations and the pointer of the L-apparatus comes to display the outcome that

in EPR/B-type experiments, let us suppose that the state of the particle corresponds to the z-spin property that the L-particle had before the

pair and the measurement apparatuses at the emission time is: measurement. If, for example, before the measurements the L- and the R-

particle have respectively the properties z-spin ‘up’ and z-spin ‘down’, the

|ψ10> =

(earlier) z-spin measurement on the L-particle will yield the outcome ‘up’

((1/√2+ε) |z-up>L |z-down> R − (1/√2−ε′) |z-down> L |z-up>R) |ready>AL |ready>AR

and the spin properties of the particles will remain unchanged.

where |ready>AL (|ready> AR) denotes the state of the L-apparatus (R- Accordingly, a z-spin measurement on the R-particle will yield the

apparatus) being ready to measure z-spin. In this state, the L- and the R- outcome ‘down’. Thus, in this case the modal interpretation involves

apparatus are in the definite state of being ready to measure z-spin, and neither action at a distance nor action* at a distance.

(similarly to the state |ψ9>) the L- and the R-particle have definite z-spin

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

For nothing in the above property assignment implies that in |ψ11> the

However, if the measurement apparatuses are set up to measure x-spin spin properties that the L-particle has as a ‘separated’ system and the spin

rather than z-spin, the evolution of the properties of the L-particle and the properties that it has as a subsystem of the particle pair be the same: The

L-apparatus will be indeterministic. As before, the L-measurement will L-particle may have z-spin ‘up’ as a separated system and z-spin ‘down’

not cause any change in the actual spin properties of the R-particle. But as a subsystem of the particle pair.

the L-measurement outcome will cause an instant change in the spin

dispositions of the R-particle and the R-measurement apparatus. If, for Furthermore, the dynamics of the properties that the L-particle (R-

example, the L-measurement outcome is x-spin ‘up’ and the L-particle particle) has as a separated system and the dynamics of its properties as a

comes to posses x-spin ‘up,’ then the R-particle and the R-apparatus will subsystem of the particle pair are generally different.[25] Consider, again,

have respectively the dispositions to possess x-spin ‘down’ and to display the state |ψ10>. In the (earlier) z-spin measurement on the L-particle, the

the outcome x-spin ‘down’ on a x-spin measurement. Thus, like the spin properties that the L-particle has as a separated system follow a

minimal Bohm theory, the modal interpretation may involve action* at a deterministic evolution — the L-particle has either z-spin ‘up’ or z-spin

distance in the EPR/B experiment. But, unlike the minimal Bohm theory, ‘down’ before and after the L-measurement; whereas as a subsystem of

here spins are intrinsic properties of particles. the particle pair, the spin properties of the L-particle follow an

indeterministic evolution — the L-particle has no definite spin properties

In the above modal interpretation, property composition fails: The before the L-measurement and either z-spin ‘up’ (with approximately

properties of composite systems are not decomposable into the properties chance ½) or z-spin ‘down’ (with approximately chance ½) after the L-

of their subsystems. Consider, again, the state |ψ10>. As ‘separated’ measurement.

systems (i.e., in the decompositions of the composite system of the

particle pair+apparatuses into the L-particle and the R- The failure of property composition implies that the quantum realm as

particle+apparatuses and into the R-particle and the L- depicted by the above version of the modal interpretation involves state

particle+apparatuses) the L- and the R-particle have definite z-spin non-separability and property and relational holism. State separability

properties. But, as subsystems of the composite system of the particle pair fails because the state of the particle pair is not generally determined by

(e.g. in the decomposition of the composite system of the particle the separate states of the particles. Indeed, as is easily shown, the actual

pair+apparatuses into the particle pair and the apparatuses), they have no properties that the L- and the R-particle each has in the state |ψ9> are

definite z-spin properties. also compatible with product states in which the L- and the R-particle are

not entangled. Property and relational holism fail because in the state |

A failure of property composition occurs also in the state |ψ11>, where ψ9> the properties of the pair do not supervene upon the properties of its

the L- and the R-particle have definite z-spin properties both as subsystems and the spatiotemporal relations between them. Furthermore,

‘separated’ systems and as subsystems of the particle pair (though in process separability fails for similar reasons.

contrast with |ψ10>, in |ψ 11> the range of the possible properties of the

particles as separated systems and as subsystems of the pair is the same). The failure of property composition in the modal interpretation calls for

For nothing in the above property assignment implies that in |ψ11> the explanation. It may be tempting to postulate that the properties that a

system (e.g. the L-particle) has, as a separated system, are the same as the

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

system (e.g. the L-particle) has, as a separated system, are the same as the located in neither the L-wing nor any other subregion of the universe.

properties that it has as a subsystem of composite systems. But, as Yet, due to the dynamical laws, properties like the position of pointers of

Bacciagaluppi (1995) and Clifton (1996a) have shown, such property measurement apparatuses, which appear to us to be local, behave like

assignment will be inconsistent: It will be subject to a Kochen and local properties in any experimental circumstances, and accordingly this

Specker-type contradiction. Furthermore, as Vermaas (1997) radical type of non-locality is unobservable (for more details, see

demonstrates, the properties of composite systems and the properties of Berkovitz and Hemmo 2006b, sections 8.1 and 9).

their subsystems cannot be correlated (in ways compatible with the Born

rule). Another way to try to explain the failure of property composition is to

interpret the properties of composite systems as holistic, non-

For what follows in the rest of this subsection, the views of different decomposable properties. On this interpretation, the z-spin ‘up’ property

authors differ widely. Several variants of modal interpretations were that the L-particle has as a subsystem of the particle pair in the state |ψ9>

developed in order to fix the problem of the failure of property is completely different from the z-spin ‘up’ property that the L-particle

composition. The most natural explanation of the failure of property has as a separated system, and the use of the term ‘z-spin up’ in both

composition is that quantum states assign relational rather than intrinsic cases is misleading (for more details, see Berkovitz and Hemmo

properties to systems (see Kochen 1985, Bene and Dieks 2002, and 2006a).[27]

Berkovitz and Hemmo 2006a,b). For example, in the relational modal

interpretation proposed by Berkovitz and Hemmo (2006a,b), the main The relational and holistic interpretations of properties mark a radical

idea is that quantum states assign properties to systems only relative to shift from the standard interpretation of properties in orthodox quantum

other systems, and properties of a system that are related to different mechanics. Other advocates of the modal interpretation have chosen not

systems are generally different. In particular, in the state |ψ10> the L- to follow this interpretation, and opted for a modal interpretation that does

particle has a definite z-spin property relative to the R-particle, the not violate property composition. While the property assignment above

measurement apparatuses and the rest of the universe, but (as a subsystem does not assume any preferred partition of the universe (the partition of

of the particle pair) it has no definite z-spin relative to the measurement the universe into a particle pair and the rest of the universe is as good as

apparatuses and the rest of universe.[26] On this interpretation, the the partition of the universe into the L-particle and the rest of the

properties of systems are highly non-local by their very nature. Properties universe), proponents of property composition postulated that there is a

like pointing to ‘up’ and pointing to ‘down’ are not intrinsic to the preferred partition of the universe into ‘atomic’ systems and accordingly a

measurement apparatuses. Rather, they are relations between the preferred factorization of the Hilbert space of the universe. This preferred

apparatuses and other systems. For example, the property of the L- factorization is supposed to be the basis for the ‘core’ property

apparatus pointing to ‘up’ relative to the particle pair, the R-apparatus and assignment: Properties are prescribed to atomic systems according to a

the rest of the universe is not intrinsic to the L-apparatus; it is a relation property assignment that is a generalization of the bi-orthogonal

between the L-apparatus and the particle pair, the R-apparatus and the decomposition property assignment.[28] And the properties of complex

rest of the universe. As such, this property is highly non-local: It is systems are postulated to be compositions of the properties of their atomic

located in neither the L-wing nor any other subregion of the universe. systems (see the entry on modal interpretations of quantum theory,

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

systems (see the entry on modal interpretations of quantum theory, are fundamentally relative. Systems have relative states, which are

section 2, and Bacciagaluppi and Dickson 1999). The challenge for this derivable from the various branches of the entangled states. For example,

atomic modal interpretation is to justify the assumption that there is a consider again |ψ11>.

preferred partition of the universe, and to provide some idea about how

such factorization should look like. |ψ11> = (1/√2+ε) |z-up>L|up>AL | z-down> R |ready>AR −

(1/√2-ε′) |z-down> L|down>AL | z-up>R |ready>AR .

Finally, while the modal interpretation was designed to solve the

measurement problem and reconcile quantum mechanics with special In this quantum-mechanical state, the L-apparatus is in the state of

relativity, it faces challenges on both accounts. First, in certain imprefect pointing to the outcome z-spin ‘up’ relative to the L-particle being in the

measurements (where there are imprefections in the coupling between the state z-spin ‘up,’ the R-particle being in the state z-spin ‘down’ and the

measured system and the pointer of the measurement apparatus and/or the R-apparatus being ready to measure z-spin; and in the state of pointing to

pointer and the environment), modal interpretations that are based on the the outcome z-spin ‘down’ relative to the L-particle being in the state z-

Schmidt biorthogonal-decomposition theorem (and more generally the spin ‘down,’ the R-particle being in the state z-spin ‘up’ and the R-

spectral decomposition theorem) fail to account for definite measurement apparatus being ready to measure z-spin. Likewise, the L-particle is in the

outcomes, in contradiction to our experience (see Bacciagaluppi and state z-spin ‘up’ relative to the L-apparatus being in the state of pointing

Hemmo 1996 and Bacciagaluppi 2000). For versions of the modal to the outcome z-spin ‘up,’ the R-particle being in the state z-spin ‘down’

interpretations that seem to escape this problem, see Van Fraassen (1973, and the R-apparatus being ready to measure z-spin; and in the state z-spin

1991), Bub (1992, 1997), Bene and Dieks (2002) and Berkovitz and ‘down’ relative to the L-apparatus being in the state of pointing to the

Hemmo (2006a,b). Second, as we shall see in section 10.2, a number of outcome z-spin ‘down,’ the R-particle being in the state z-spin ‘up’ and

no-go theorems challenge the view that modal interpretations could be the R-apparatus being ready to measure z-spin. And similarly, mutatis

genuinely relativistic. mutandis, for the relative state of the R-particle and the R-apparatus.

5.3.3 Everett-like interpretations

states and their relations to observers’ experience and beliefs open, and

In 1957, Everett proposed a new no-collapse interpretation of orthodox there have been different Everett-like interpretations of these states.

quantum mechanics (see Everett 1957a,b, 1973, Barrett 1999, the entry on Probably the most popular reading of Everett is the splitting-worlds

Everett's relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics, the entry on interpretation (see DeWitt 1971, Everett's relative-state formulation of

the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and references quantum mechanics, Barrett 1999, and references therein). In the

therein). The Everett interpretation is a no-collapse interpretation of splitting-worlds interpretation, each of the branches of the state |ψ11>

quantum mechanics, where the evolution of quantum states is always refers to a different class of worlds (all of which are real) where the states

according to unitary and linear dynamical equations (the Schrödinger of the L-apparatus, R-apparatus and the particles are all separable: Class-

equation in the non-relativistic case). In this interpretation, quantum states 1 worlds in which the L-particle is in the state z-spin ‘up,’ the R-particle

are fundamentally relative. Systems have relative states, which are is in the state z-spin ‘down,’ the L-apparatus is in the state of pointing to

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

is in the state z-spin ‘down,’ the L-apparatus is in the state of pointing to Fourth, there is the question of how the splitting-worlds interpretation

the outcome z-spin ‘up’ and the R-apparatus in the state of being ready to accounts for the statistical predictions of the orthodox theory. In the

measure z-spin; and class-2 worlds in which the L-particle is in the state Everett-like interpretations in general, and in the splitting-worlds

z-spin ‘down,’ the R-particle is in the state z-spin ‘up,’ the L-apparatus is interpretation in particular, all the possible measurement outcomes in the

in the state of pointing to the outcome z-spin ‘down’ and the R-apparatus EPR/B experiment are realized and may be observed. Thus, the question

is in the state of being ready to measure z-spin. More generally, each term arises as to the meaning of probabilities in this interpretation. For

in state of the universe, as represented in a certain preferred basis, reflects example, what is the meaning of the statement that in the state |ψ10> (see

the states of its systems in some class of worlds; where the range of the section 5.3.2) the probability of the L-measurement apparatus pointing to

different classes of worlds increases whenever the number of the terms in the outcome ‘up’ in an earlier z-spin measurement on the L-particle is

the quantum state (in the preferred basis) increases (this process is called (approximately) ½? In the splitting-worlds interpretation the probability

‘splitting’). of that outcome appears to be 1! Furthermore, setting aside the problem of

interpretation, there is also the question of whether the splitting-worlds

The splitting-worlds reading of Everett faces a number of challenges. interpretation, and more generally Everett-like interpretations, can

First, supporters of the Everett interpretation frequently motivate their account for the particular values of the quantum probabilities of

interpretation by arguing that it postulates the existence of neither a measurement outcomes. Everett claimed to derive the Born probabilities

controversial wave collapse nor hidden variables, and it leaves the simple in the context of his interpretation. But this derivation has been

and elegant mathematical structure of quantum mechanics intact. But, the controversial. (For discussions of the meaning of probabilities, or more

splitting-worlds interpretation adds extra structure to no-collapse orthodox precisely the meaning of the coefficients of the various terms in quantum

quantum mechanics. Further, this interpretation marks a radical shift from states, in Everett-like interpretations, see Butterfield 1996, Lockwood

orthodox quantum mechanics. A scientific theory is not constituted only 1996a,b, Saunders 1998, Vaidman 1998, Barnum et al. 2000,

by its mathematical formalism, but also by the ontology it postulates, the Bacciagaluppi 2002, Gill 2003, Hemmo and Pitowsky 2003, 2005,

way it depicts the physical realm and the way it accounts for our Wallace 2002, 2003, 2005a,b, Greaves 2004 and Saunders 2004, 2005.)

experience. The many parallel worlds ontology of the splitting-worlds

interpretation and its account of our experience are radically different Other readings of Everett include the many-minds interpretation (Albert

from the ontology of the intended interpretation of orthodox quantum and Loewer 1988, Barrett 1999, chapter 7), the consistent-histories

mechanics and its account for our experience. Second, relative states are approach (Gell-Mann and Hartle 1990), the Everett-like relational

well defined in any basis, and the question arises as to which basis should interpretation (Saunders 1995, Mermin 1998) and (what may be called)

be preferred and the motivation for selecting one particular basis over the many-structures interpretation (Wallace 2005c). While these readings

others. Third, in the splitting-worlds interpretation each of the worlds in address more or less successfully the problems of the preferred basis and

the universe may split into two or more worlds, and the problem is that splitting, except for the many-minds interpretation of Albert and Loewer

(similarly to the collapse in orthodox collapse quantum mechanics) there the question of whether there could be a satisfactory interpretation of

are no clear criteria for when a splitting occurs and how long it takes. probabilities in the context of these theories and the adequacy of the

Fourth, there is the question of how the splitting-worlds interpretation derivation of the Born probabilities are still a controversial issue (see

46 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 47

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

derivation of the Born probabilities are still a controversial issue (see of perceiving definite measurement outcomes. For example, consider

Deutsch 1999, Wallace 2002, 2003, Lewis 2003, Graves 2004, Saunders again, the state |ψ10>. While in a first z-spin L-measurement, this state

2004, Hemmo and Pitowsky 2005, and Price 2006). evolves deterministically into the state |ψ11>, minds of observers evolve

indeterministically into either the state of perceiving the outcome z-spin

What kind of non-locality do Everett-like interpretations involve? ‘up’ or the state of perceiving the outcome z-spin ‘down’ with the usual

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not straightforward, as it Born-rule probabilities (approximately 50% chance for each of these

depends on one's particular reading of the Everett interpretation. Indeed, outcomes). Since in this state the L-particle has no definite spin properties

all the above readings of Everett seem to treat the no-collapse wave and the L-apparatus points to no definite measurement outcome, and since

function of the universe as a real physical entity that reflects the non- in the later z-spin measurement on the R-particle the R-particle does not

separable state of the universe, and accordingly they involve state non- come to possess any definite spin properties and the R-apparatus points to

separability. But, one may reasonably expect that different readings depict no definite spin outcome, the question of whether there is action at a

different pictures of physical reality and accordingly might postulate distance between the L-particle and the L-apparatus on the one hand and

different kinds of non-locality. Thus, any further analysis of the type of the R-particle and the R-apparatus on the other does not arise.

non-locality postulated by each of these readings requires a detailed study

of their ontology (which we plan to conduct in future updates of this 6. Superluminal causation

entry).

In all the above interpretations of quantum mechanics, the failure of

For example, the question of action at a distance in the EPR/B experiment

factorizability (i.e., the failure of the joint probability of the measurement

may arise in the context of the splitting-worlds interpretation, but not in

outcomes in the EPR/B experiment to factorize into their single

the context of Albert and Loewer's many-minds interpretation. Albert and

probabilities) involves non-separability, holism and/or some type of

Loewer's interpretation takes the bare no-collapse orthodox quantum

action at a distance. As we shall see below, non-factorizability also

mechanics to be the complete theory of the physical realm. Accordingly,

implies superluminal causal dependence according to certain accounts of

the L-apparatus in the state |ψ11> does not display any definite outcome.

causation.

Yet, in order to account for our experience of a classical-like world,

where at the end of measurements observers are typically in mental states First, as is not difficult to show, the failure of factorizability implies

of perceiving definite outcomes, the many-minds interpretation appeals to superluminal causation according to various probabilistic accounts of

a dualism of mind-body. Each observer is associated with a continuous causation that satisfy Reichenbach's (1956, section 19) principle of the

infinity of non-physical minds. And while the physical state of the world common cause (for a review of this principle, see the entry on

evolves in a completely deterministic manner according to the Reichenbach's principle of the common cause).

Schrödinger evolution, and the pointers of the measurement apparatuses

in the EPR/B experiment display no definite outcomes, states of minds Here is why. Reichenbach's principle may be formulated as follows:

evolve in a genuinely indeterministic fashion so as to yield an experience

of perceiving definite measurement outcomes. For example, consider

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

PCC (Principle of the Common Cause). For any correlation PC(x), PC(y) and CC(x,y):

between two (distinct) events which do not cause each other, there

is a common cause that screens them off from each other. Or FactorUCP

formally: If distinct events x and y are correlated, i.e., P PC(x) PC(y) CC(x,y) (x & y) = P PC(x) CC(x,y) (x) · P PC(y) CC(x,y) (y).

(Correlation) Like PCC, the basic idea of FactorUCP is that the objective probabilities

P(x & y) ≠ P(x) · P(y), of events that do not cause each other are determined by their causal

pasts, and given these causal pasts they are probabilistically independent

and they do not cause each other, then their common cause, of each other. As is not difficult to see, factorizability is a special case of

CC(x,y), screens them off from each other, i.e., FactorUCP. That is, to obtain factorizability from FactorUCP, substitute λ

for CC(x,y), l for PC(x) and r for PC(y). FactorUCP and the assumption

(Screening Off) that the probabilities of the measurement-outcomes in the EPR/B

P CC(x,y)(x/y) = P CC(x,y)(x) P CC(x,y)(y) ≠ 0 experiment are determined by the pair's state and the settings of the

measurement apparatuses jointly imply factorizability. Thus, given this

P CC(x,y)(y/x) = P CC(x,y)(y) P CC(x,y)(x) ≠ 0.[29]

later assumption, the failure of factorizability implies superluminal

causation between the distant outcomes in the EPR/B experiment

Accordingly, CC(x,y) renders x and y probabilistically

according to any account of causation that satisfies FactorUCP (for some

independent, and the joint probability of x and y factorizes upon

examples of such accounts, see Butterfield 1989 and Berkovitz 1995a,

CC(x,y):

1995b, section 6.7, 1998b).[30]

P CC(x,y)(x & y) = P CC(x,y)(x) · P CC(x,y)(y).

Superluminal causation between the distant outcomes also exists

The above formulation of PCC is mainly intended to cover cases in which according to various counterfactual accounts of causation, including

x and y have no partial, non-common causes. But PCC can be generalized accounts that do not satisfy FactorUCP. In particular, in Lewis's (1986)

as follows: influential account, counterfactual dependence between distinct events

implies causal dependence between them. And as Butterfield (1992b) and

PCC*. The joint probability of any distinct, correlated events, x Berkovitz (1998b) demonstrate, the violation of Factorizability involves a

and y, which are not causally connected to each other, factorizes counterfactual dependence between the distant measurement outcomes in

upon the union of their partial (separate) causes and their common the EPR/B experiment.

cause. That is, let CC(x,y) denote the common causes of x and y,

and PC(x) and PC(y) denote respectively their partial causes. But the violation of factorizability does not imply superluminal causation

Then, the joint probability of x and y factorizes upon the Union of according to some other accounts of causation. In particular, in process

their Causal Pasts (henceforth, FactorUCP), i.e., on the union of accounts of causation there is no superluminal causation in the EPR/B

PC(x), PC(y) and CC(x,y): experiment. In such accounts, causal dependence between events is

explicated in terms of continuous processes in space and time that

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Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

explicated in terms of continuous processes in space and time that and 118). It is thus frequently claimed with respect to EPR/B experiments

transmit ‘marks’ or conserved quantities from the cause to the effect (see that there is no such thing as a Bell telephone, namely a telephone that

Salmon 1998, chapters 1, 12, 16 and 18, Dowe 2000, the entry on causal could exploit the violation of the Bell inequalities for superluminal

processes, and references therein). Thus, recalling (sections 1, 2, 4 and 5) signaling of information.[31]

that none of the interpretations of quantum mechanics and alternative

quantum theories postulates any (direct) continuous process between the The no-signaling theorem demonstrates that orthodox quantum mechanics

distant measurement events in the EPR/B experiment, there is no excludes any possibility of superluminal signaling in the EPR/B

superluminal causation between them according to process accounts of experiment. According to this theory, no controllable physical factor in

causation. the L-wing, such as the setting of the L-measurement apparatus, can take

advantage of the entanglement between the systems in the L- and the R-

7. Superluminal signaling wing to influence the statistics of the measurement outcomes (or any

other observable) in the R-wing. As we have seen in section 5.1.1, the

Whether or not the non-locality predicted by quantum theories may be orthodox theory is at best incomplete. Thus, the fact that it excludes

classified as action at a distance or superluminal causation, the question superluminal signaling does not imply that other quantum theories or

arises as to whether this non-locality could be exploited to allow interpretations of the orthodox theory also exclude such signaling. Yet, if

superluminal (i.e., faster-than-light) signaling of information. This the orthodox theory is empirically adequate, as the consensus has it, its

question is of particular importance for those who interpret relativity as statistical predictions obtain, and accordingly superluminal signaling will

prohibiting any such superluminal signaling. (We shall return to discuss be excluded as a matter of fact; for if this theory is empirically adequate,

this interpretation in section 10.) any quantum theory will have to reproduce its statistics, including the

exclusion of any actual superluminal signaling.

Superluminal signaling would require that the state of nearby controllable

physical objects (say, a keyboard in my computer) superluminally But the no-signaling theorem does not demonstrate that superluminal

influence distant observable physical phenomena (e.g. a pattern on a signaling would be impossible if orthodox quantum mechanics were not

computer screen light years away). The influence may be deterministic or empirically adequate. Furthermore, this theorem does not show that

indeterministic, but in any case it should cause a detectable change in the superluminal signaling is in principle impossible in the quantum realm as

statistics of some distant physical quantities. depicted by other theories, which actually reproduce the statistics of

orthodox quantum mechanics but do not prohibit in theory the violation

It is commonly agreed that in quantum phenomena, superluminal of this statistics. In sections 7.2-7.3, we shall consider the in-principle

signaling is impossible in practice. Moreover, many believe that such possibility of superluminal signaling in certain collapse and no-collapse

signaling is excluded in principle by the so-called ‘no-signaling theorem’ interpretations of quantum mechanics. But, first, we need to consider the

(for proofs of this theorem, see Eberhard 1978, Ghirardi, Rimini and necessary and sufficient conditions for superluminal signaling.

Weber 1980, Jordan 1983, Shimony 1984, Redhead 1987, pp. 113-116

and 118). It is thus frequently claimed with respect to EPR/B experiments

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

7.1 Necessary and sufficient conditions for superluminal sufficient condition for controllable probabilistic dependence. But, recall

signaling (footnote 3) that in some models of the EPR/B experiment, in addition to

the pair's state and the setting of the L- (R-) measurement apparatus there

To simplify things, in our discussion we shall focus on non-factorizable are other local physical quantities that may be relevant for the probability

models of the EPR/B experiment that satisfy λ-independence (i.e., the of the L- (R-) measurement outcome. In such models, parameter

assumption that the distribution of the states λ is independent of the dependence is not a necessary condition for controllable probabilistic

settings of the measurement apparatuses). Superluminal signaling in the dependence. Some other physical quantities in the nearby wing may be

EPR/B experiment would be possible in theory just in case the value of relevant for the probability of the distant measurement outcome. (That is,

some controllable physical quantity in the nearby wing could influence let α and β denote all the relevant local physical quantities, other than the

the statistics of measurement outcomes in the distant wing. And in non- settings of the measurement apparatuses, that may be relevant for the

factorizable models that satisfy λ-independence this could happen just in probability of the L- and the R-outcome, respectively. Then, controllable

case the following conditions obtained: probabilistic dependence would obtain if for some pairs' states λ, L-

setting l, R-setting r and local physical quantities α and β, P λ l r α β(yr) ≠

Controllable probabilistic dependence. The probabilities of

P λ l r β(yr) obtained.) For the relevance of such models to the question of

distant measurement outcomes depend on some nearby

the in-principle possibility of superluminal signalling in some current

controllable physical quantity.

interpretations of quantum mechanics, see sections 7.3 and 7.4.

λ-distribution. There can be in theory an ensemble of particle (iii) The quantum-equilibrium distribution will not be the same in all

pairs the states of which deviate from the quantum-equilibrium models of the EPR/B experiment; for in general the states λ will not be

distribution; where the quantum-equilibrium distribution of pairs' the same in different models.

states is the distribution that reproduces the predictions of (iv) In models that actually violate both controllable probabilistic

orthodox quantum mechanics. dependence and λ-distribution, the occurrence of controllable probabilistic

dependence would render the actual distribution of λ states as non-

Four comments: (i) In controllable probabilistic dependence, the term equilbrium distribution. Thus, if controllable probabilistic dependence

'probabilities of measurement outcomes' refers to the model probabilities, occurred in such models, the actual distribution of λ states would satisfy

i.e., the probabilities that the states λ prescribe for measurement λ-distribution.

outcomes.

(ii) Our discussion in this entry focuses on models of the EPR/B The argument for the necessity of controllable probabilistic dependence

experiment in which probabilities of measurement outcomes depend only and λ-distribution is straightforward. Granted λ-independence, if the

on the pair's state λ and the settings of the measurement apparatuses to probabilistic dependence of the distant outcome on a nearby physical

measure certain properties. In such models, parameter dependence (i.e., quantity is not controllable, there can be no way to manipulate the

the dependence of the probability of the distant measurement outcome on statistics of the distant outcome so as to deviate from the statistical

the setting of the nearby measurement apparatus) is a necessary and predictions of quantum mechanics. Accordingly, superluminal

sufficient condition for controllable probabilistic dependence. But, recall transmission of information will be impossible even in theory. And if λ-

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Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

transmission of information will be impossible even in theory. And if λ- implies the failure of controllable probabilistic dependence, yet the

distribution does not hold, i.e., if the quantum-equilibrium distribution violation of λ-independence would imply the possibility of superluminal

holds, controllable probabilistic dependence will be of no use for signaling: If λ-independence failed, a change in the setting of the nearby

superluminal transmission of information. For, averaging over the model measurement apparatus would cause a change in the distribution of the

probabilities according to the quantum-equilbrium distribution, the model states λ, and a change in this distribution would induce a change in the

will reproduce the statistics of orthodox quantum mechanics. That is, the statistics of the distant (space-like separated) measurement outcome.

distribution of the λ-states will be such that the probabilistic dependence

of the distant outcome on the nearby controllable factor will be washed Leaving aside models that violate λ-independence, we now turn to

out: In some states the nearby controllable factor will raise the probability consider the prospects of controllable probabilistic dependence and λ-

of the distant outcome and in others it will decrease this probability, so distribution, starting with no-collapse interpretations.

that on average the overall statistics of the distant outcome will be

7.2 No-collapse theories

independent of the nearby controllable factor (i.e., the same as the

statistics of orthodox quantum mechanics). Accordingly, superluminal 7.2.1 Bohm's Theory

signaling will be impossible.

Bohm's theory involves parameter dependence and thus controllable

The argument for the sufficiency of these conditions is also

probabilistic dependence: The probabilities of distant outcomes depend on

straightforward. If λ-distribution held, it would be possible in theory to

the setting of the nearby apparatus. In some pairs' states λ, i.e., in some

arrange ensembles of particle pairs in which controllable probabilistic

configurations of the positions of the particle pair, a change in the

dependence would not be washed out, and accordingly the statistics of

apparatus setting of the (earlier) say L-measurement will induce an

distant outcomes would depend on the nearby controllable factor. (For a

immediate change in the probability of the R-outcome: e.g. the probability

proof that these conditions are sufficient for superluminal signaling in

of R-outcome z-spin ‘up’ will be 1 if the L-apparatus is set to measure z-

certain deterministic hidden variables theories, see Valentini 2002.)

spin and 0 if the L-apparatus is switched off (see section 5.3.1). Thus, the

Note that the necessary and sufficient conditions for superluminal question of superluminal signaling turns on whether λ-distribution

signaling are different in models that do not exclude in theory the obtains.

violation of λ-independence. In such models controllable probabilistic

Now, recall (section 5.3.1) that Bohm's theory reproduces the quantum

dependence is not a necessary condition for superluminal signaling. The

statistics by postulating the quantum-equilibrium distribution over the

reasoning is as follows. Consider any empirically adequate model of the

positions of particles. If this distribution is not an accidental fact about

EPR/B experiment in which the pair's state and the settings of the

our universe, but rather obtains as a matter of law, superluminal signaling

measurement apparatuses are the only relevant factors for the

will be impossible in principle. Dürr, Goldstein and Zanghì (1992a,b,

probabilities of measurement outcomes, and the quantum-equilibrium

1996, fn. 15) argue that, while the quantum-equilibrium distribution is not

distribution is λ-independent. In such a model, parameter independence

a matter a law, other distributions will be possible but atypical. Thus, they

implies the failure of controllable probabilistic dependence, yet the

conclude that although superluminal signaling is not impossible in theory,

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Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

it may occur only in atypical worlds. On the other hand, Valentini 7.3 Collapse theories

(1991a,b, 1992, 1996, 2002) and Valentini and Westman 2004) argue that

7.3.1 Dynamical models for state-vector reduction

there are good reasons to think that our universe may well have started off

in a state of quantum non-equilibrium and is now approaching gradually a In the GRW/Pearle collapse models, wave functions represent the most

state of equilibrium, so that even today some residual non-equilibrium exhaustive, complete specification of states of individual systems. Thus,

must be present.[32] Yet, even if such residual non-equilbrium existed, the pairs prepared with the same wave function have always the same λ state

question is whether it would be possible to access any ensemble of — a state that represents their quantum-equilbrium distribution for the

systems in a non-equilbrium distribution. EPR/B experiment. Accordingly, λ-distribution fails. Do these models

involve controllable probabilistic dependence?

7.2.2 Modal interpretations

Recall (section 5.1.2) that there are several models of state reduction in

The presence or absence of parameter independence (and accordingly the the literature. One of these models is the so-called non-linear Continuous

presence or absence of controllable probabilistic dependence) in the Stochastic Localization (CSL) models (see Pearle 1989, Ghirardi, Pearle

modal interprtation is a matter of controversy, perhaps due in part to the and Rimini 1990, Butterfield et al. 1993, and Ghirardi et al. 1993).

multiplicity of versions of this interpretation. Whether or not modal Butterfield et al. (1993) argue that in these models there is a probabilistic

interpretations involve parameter dependence would probably depend on dependence of the outcome of the R-measurement on the process that

the dynamics of the possessed properties. At least some of the current leads to the (earlier) outcome of the L-measurement. In these models, the

modal interpretations seem to involve no parameter dependence. But, as process leading to the L-outcome (either z-spin ‘up’ or z-spin ‘down’)

the subject editor pointed out to the author, some think that the no-go depends on the interaction between the L-particle and the L-apparatus

theorem for relativistic modal interpretation due to Dickson and Clifton (which results in an entangled state), and the specific realization of the

(1998) implies the existence of parameter dependence in all the stochastic process that strives to collapse this macroscopic superposition

interpretations to which this theorem is applicable. Do modal into a product state in which the L-apparatus displays a definite outcome.

interpretations satisfy λ-distribution? The prospects of this condition And the probability of the R-outcome depends on this process. For

depend on whether the possessed properties that the modal interpretation example, if this process is one that gives rise to a z-spin ‘up’ (or renders

assigns in addition to the properties prescribed by the orthodox that outcome more likely), the probability of R-outcome z-spin ‘up’ is 0

interpretation, are controllable. If these properties were controllable at (more likely to be 0); and if this process is one that gives rise to a z-spin

least in theory, λ-distribution would be possible. For example, if the ‘down’ (or renders that outcome more likely), the probability of R-

possessed spin properties that the particles have at the emission from the outcome z-spin ‘down’ is 0 (more likely to be 0). The question is whether

source in the EPR/B experiment were controllable, then λ-distribution there are controllable factors that influence the probability of realizations

would be possible. The common view seems to be that these properties of stochastic processes that lead to a specific L-outcome, so that it would

are uncontrollable. be possible to increase or decrease the probability of the R-outcome. If

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

be possible to increase or decrease the probability of the R-outcome. If 7.5 Superluminal signaling and action-at-a-distance

such factors existed, controllable probabilistic dependence would be

possible at least in theory. And if this kind of controllable probabilistic If superluminal signaling were possible in the EPR/B experiment in any

dependence existed, λ-distribution would also obtain; for if such of the above theories, it would not require any continuous process in

dependence existed, the actual distribution of pairs' states (in which the spacetime to mediate the influences between the two distant wings.

pair always have the same state, the quantum-mechanical state) would Indeed, in all the current quantum theories in which the probability of the

cease to be the quantum-equilbrium distribution. R-outcome depends on some controllable physical variable in the L-wing,

this dependence is not due to a continuous process. Rather, it is due to

7.4 The prospects of controllable probabilistic dependence some type of ‘action’ or (to use Shimony's (1984) terminology) ‘passion’

at a distance, which is the ‘result’ of the holistic nature of the quantum

In section 7.3.1, we discussed the question of the in-principle realm, the non-separability of the state of entangled systems, or the non-

controllability of local measurement processes and in particular the separable nature of the evolution of the properties of systems.

probability of their outcome, and the implications of such controllability

for the in-principle possibility of superluminal signaling in the context of 8. The analysis of factorizability: implications for

the CSL models. But this question is not specific to the CSL model and

quantum non-locality

(more generally) the dynamical models for state-vector reduction. It

seems likely to arise also in other quantum theories that model In sections 5-7, we considered the nature of quantum non-locality as

measurements realistically. Here is why. Real measurements take time. depicted by theories that violate factorizability, i.e., the assumption that

And during that time, some physical variable, other than the state of the the probability of joint measurement outcomes factorizes into the single

measured system and the setting of the measurement apparatus, might probabilities of these outcomes. Recalling section 3, factorizability can be

influence the chance (i.e., the single-case objective probability) of the analyzed into a conjunction of two conditions: OI (outcome

measurement outcome. In particular, during the L-measurement in the independence)—the probability of a distant measurement outcome in the

EPR/B experiment, the chance of the L-outcome z-spin ‘up’ (‘down’) EPR/B experiment is independent of the nearby measurement outcome;

might depend on the value of some physical variable in the L-wing, other and PI (parameter independence)—the probability of a distant

than the state of the particle pair and the setting of the L-measurement measurement outcome in the EPR/B experiment is independent of the

apparatus. If so, it will follow from the familiar perfect anti-correlation of setting of the nearby measurement apparatus. Bohm's theory violates PI,

the singlet state that the chance of R-outcome z-spin ‘up’ (‘down’) will whereas other mainstream quantum theories satisfy this condition but

depend on the value of such variable (for details, see Kronz 1990a,b, violate OI. The question arises as to whether violations of PI involve a

Jones and Clifton 1993, pp. 304-305, and Berkovitz 1998a, section 4.3.4). different kind of non-locality than violations of OI. So far, our

Thus, if the value of such a variable were controllable, controllable methodology was to study the nature of quantum non-locality by

probabilistic dependence would obtain. analyzing the way various quantum theories account for the curious

correlations in the EPR/B experiment. In this section, we shall focus on

the question of whether quantum non-locality can be studied in a more

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Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

Fourth, Howard's spatiotemporal separability condition (see section 4.3)

general way, namely by analyzing the types of non-locality involved in

requires that states of composite systems be determined by the states of

violations of PI and in violations of OI, independently of how these

their subsystems. In particular, spatiotemporal separability requires that

violations are realized.

joint probabilities of outcomes be determined as some function of the

8.1 Non-separability, holism and action at a distance single probabilities of these outcomes. Winsberg and Fine (2003) object

that as a separability condition, OI arbitrarily restricts this function to be a

It is frequently argued or maintained that violations of OI involve state product function. And they argue that on a weakened formalization of

non-separability and/or some type of holism, whereas violations of PI separability, a violation of OI is compatible with separability. Fogel

involve action at a distance. For notable examples, Howard (1989) argues (2004) agrees that Winsberg and Fine's weakened formalization of

that spatiotemporal separability (see section 4.3) implies OI, and separability is correct, but argues that, when supplemented by a certain

accordingly a violation of it implies spatiotemporal non-separability; ‘isotropy’ condition, OI implies this weakened separability condition.

Teller (1989) argues that particularism (see section 4.3) implies OI, and Fogel believes that his suggested ‘isotropy’ condition is very plausible,

thus a violation of it implies relational holism; and Jarrett (1984, 1989) but, as he acknowledges, this condition involves a nontrivial measurement

argues that a violation of PI involves some type of action at a distance. context-independence.[33]

These views are controversial, however.

Fifth, as the analysis in section 5 demonstrates, violations of OI might

First, as we have seen in section 5, in quantum theories the violation of involve action at a distance. Also, while the minimal Bohm theory

either of these conditions involves some type of non-separability and/or violates PI and arguably some modal interpretations do not, the type of

holism. action at a distance they postulate, namely action* at a distance (see

section 5.2), is similar: In both cases, an earlier spin-measurement in

Second, the explicit attempts to derive OI from separability or (say) the L-wing does not induce any immediate change in the intrinsic

particularism seem to rely (implicitly) on some locality conditions. properties of the R-particle. The L-measurement only causes an

Maudlin (1998, p. 98) and Berkovitz (1998a, section 6.1) argue that immediate change in the dispositions of the R-particle—a change that

Howard's precise formulation of spatiotemporal separability embodies may influence the behavior of the R-particle in future spin-measurements

both separability and locality conditions, and Berkovitz (1998a, section in the R-wing. But, this change of dispositions does not involve any

6.2) argues that Teller's derivation of OI from particularism implicitly change of local properties in the R-wing, as these dispositions are

relies on locality conditions. Thus, the violation of OI per se does not relational (rather than intrinsic) properties of the R-particle. Furthermore,

imply non-separability or holism. the action at a distance predicated by the minimal Bohm theory is weaker

than the one predicated by orthodox collapse quantum mechanics and the

Third, a factorizable model, i.e., model that satisfies OI, may be non-

GRW/Pearle collapse models; for in contrast to the minimal Bohm

separable (Berkovitz 1995b, section 6.5). Thus, OI cannot be simply

theory, in these theories the measurement on the L-particle induces a

identified with OI.

change in the intrinsic properties of the R-particle, independently of

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

change in the intrinsic properties of the R-particle, independently of Jarrett (1984, 1989), Ballentine and Jarrett (1997) and Shimony (1984)

whether or not the R-particle undergoes a measurement. Thus, if the R- hold that superluminal signaling is incompatible with relativity theory.

particle comes to possess (momentarily) a definite position, the EPR/B Accordingly, they conclude that violations of PI are incompatible with

experiment as described by these theories involves action at a distance — relativity theory, whereas violations of OI may be compatible with this

a stronger kind of action than the action* at a distance predicated by the theory. Furthermore, Sutherland (1985, 1989) argues that deterministic,

minimal Bohm theory. relativistic parameter-dependent theories (i.e., relativistic, deterministic

theories that violate PI) would plausibly require retro-causal influences,

8.2 Superluminal signaling and in certain experimental circumstances this type of influences would

give rise to causal paradoxes, i.e., inconsistent closed causal loops (where

It was also argued, notably by Jarrett 1984 and 1989 and Shimony 1984,

effects undermine their very causes). And Arntzenius (1994) argues that

that in contrast to violations of OI, violations of PI may give rise (at least

all relativistic parameter-dependent theories are impossible on pain of

in principle) to superluminal signaling. Indeed, as is not difficult to see

causal paradoxes. That is, he argues that in certain experimental

from section 7.1, in theories that satisfy λ-independence there is an

circumstances any relativistic, parameter-dependent theory would give

asymmetry between failures of PI and failures of OI with respect to

rise to closed causal loops in which violations of PI could not obtain.

superluminal signaling: whereas λ-distribution and the failure of PI are

sufficient conditions for the in-principle possibility of superluminal It is noteworthy that the view that relativity per se is incompatible with

signaling, λ-distribution and the failure of OI are not. Thus, the prospects superluminal signaling is disputable (for more details, see section 10).

of superluminal signaling look better in parameter-dependent theories, Anyway, recalling (section 8.2), if λ-distribution is excluded as a matter

i.e., theories that violate PI. Yet, as we have seen in section 7.2.1, if the of law, it will be impossible even in theory to exploit the violation of PI

Bohmian quantum-equilbrium distribution obtains, then Bohm's theory, to give rise to superluminal signaling, in which case the possibility of

the paradigm of parameter dependent theories, prohibits superluminal relativistic parameter-dependent theories could not be discounted on the

signaling. And if this distribution is obtained as a matter of law, then basis of superluminal signaling.

Bohm's theory prohibits superluminal signaling even in theory.

Furthermore, as we remarked in section 7.1, if the in-principle possibility Furthermore, as mentioned in section 7.1 and 7.4, the in-principle

of violating λ-independence is not excluded, superluminal signaling may possibility of superluminal signaling in theories that satisfy PI and violate

exist in theories that satisfy PI and violate OI. In fact, as section 7.4 seems OI cannot be excluded a priori. Thus, if relativity theory excludes

to suggest, the possibility of superluminal signaling in theories that satisfy superluminal signaling, the argument from superluminal signaling may

PI but violate OI cannot be discounted even when λ-independence is also be applied to exclude the possibility of some relativistic outcome-

impossible. dependent theories.

8.3 Relativity Finally, Berkovitz (2002) argues that Arntzenius's argument for the

impossibility of relativistic theories that violate PI is based on

assumptions about probabilities that are common in linear causal

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

assumptions about probabilities that are common in linear causal Parameter dependence (PI) postulates that in the EPR/B experiment the

situations but are unwarranted in causal loops, and that the real challenge probability of the later, distant measurement outcome depends on the

for these theories is that in such loops their predictive power is setting of the apparatus of the nearby, earlier measurement. It may be

undermined (for more details, see section 10.3). tempting to assume that this dependence is due to a direct influence of the

nearby setting on the (probability of the) distant outcome. But a little

8.4 Superluminal causation

reflection on the failure of PI in Bohm's theory, which is the paradigm for

In various counterfactual and probabilistic accounts of causation parameter dependence, demonstrates that the setting of the nearby

violations of PI entail superluminal causation between the setting of the apparatus per se has no influence on the distant measurement outcome.

nearby measurement apparatus and the distant measurement outcome, Rather, it is because the setting of the nearby measurmenent apparatus

whereas violations of OI entail superluminal causation between the influences the nearby measurement outcome and the nearby outcome

distant measurement outcomes (see Butterfield 1992b, 1994, Berkovitz influences the distant outcome that the setting of the nearby apparatus can

1998b, section 2). Thus, it seems that theories that violate PI postulate a have an influence on the distant outcome. For, as is not difficult to see

different type of superluminal causation than theories that violate OI. Yet, from the analysis of the nature of non-locality in the minimal Bohm

as Berkovitz (1998b, section 2.4) argues, the violation of PI in Bohm's theory (see section 5.3.1), the setting of the apparatus of the nearby

theory does involve some type of outcome dependence, which may be (earlier) measurement in the EPR/B experiment influences the outcome

interpreted as a generalization of the violation of OI. In this theory, the the nearby measurement, and this outcome influences the guiding field of

specific R-measurement outcome in the EPR/B experiment depends on the distant particle and accordingly the outcome of a measurement on that

the specific L-measurement outcome: For any three different directions x, particle.

y, z, if the probabilities of x-spin ‘up’ and y-spin ‘up’ are non-zero, the

While the influence of the nearby setting on the nearby outcome is

probability of R-outcome z-spin ‘up’ will generally depend on whether

necessary for parameter dependence, it is not sufficient for it. In all the

the L-outcome is x-spin ‘up’ or y-spin ‘up’. Yet, due to the determinism

current quantum theories, the probabilities of joint outcomes in the EPR/B

that Bohm's theory postulates, OI trivially obtains. Put it another way, OI

experiment depend on the settings of both measurement apparatuses: The

does not reflect all the types of outcome independence that may exist

probability that the L-outcome is l-spin ‘up’ and the R-outcome is r-spin

between distant outcomes. Accordingly, the fact that a theory satisfies OI

‘up’ and the probability that the L-outcome is l-spin ‘up’ and the R-

does not entail that it does not involve some other type of outcome

outcome is r-spin ‘down’ both depend on (l − r), i.e., the distance

dependence. Indeed, in all the current quantum theories that violate

between the angles l and r. In theories in which the sum of these joint

factorizability there are correlations between distant specific measurement

probabilities is invariant with respect to the value of (l − r), parameter

outcomes — correlations that may well be interpreted as an indication of

independence obtains: for all pairs' states λ, L-setting l, and R-settings r

counterfactual superluminal causation between these outcomes.

and r′, L-outcome xl, and R-outcomes yr and yr′ :

8.5 On the origin and nature of parameter dependence

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

(PI)

EPR/B experiment. Yet, as quantum-mechanical states of systems are

P λ l r(xl & yr) + P λ l r(xl & ¬yr) = P λ l r′ (xl & yr′ ) + P λ l r′ (xl & ¬yr′ ).

assumed to reflect their physical states, the many-minds theory does

Parameter dependence is a violation of this invariance condition. postulate some type of non-locality, namely state non-separability and

property and relational holism.

9. Can there be ‘local’ quantum theories? Another way to get around Bell's argument for non-locality in the EPR/B

experiment is to construct a model of this experiment that satisfies

The focus of this entry has been on exploring the nature of the non-local

factorizability but violates λ-independence (i.e., the assumption that the

influences in the quantum realm as depicted by quantum theories that

distribution of all the possible pairs' states in the EPR/B experiment is

violate factorizability, i.e., theories in which the joint probability of the

independent of the measured quantities). In section 2, we mentioned two

distant outcomes in the EPR/B experiment do not factorize into the

possible causal explanations for the failure of λ-independence. The first is

product of the single probabilities of these outcomes. The motivation for

to postulate that pairs' states and apparatus settings share a common

this focus was that, granted plausible assumptions, factorizability must

cause, which correlates certain types of pairs' states with certain types of

fail (see section 2), and its failure implies some type of non-locality (see

settings (e.g. states of type λ1 are correlated with settings of type l and r,

sections 2-8). But if any of these plausible assumptions failed, it may be

whereas states of type λ2 are correlated with settings of type l′ and r′,

possible to account for the EPR/B experiment (and more generally for all

etc.). As we noted, thinking about all the various ways one can measure

other quantum phenomena) without postulating any non-local influences.

properties, this explanation seems conspiratorial. Furthermore, it runs

Let us then consider the main arguments for the view that quantum

counter to one of the most fundamental presuppositions of empirical

phenomena need not involve non-locality.

science, namely that in experiments preparations of sources and settings

In arguments for the failure of factorizability, it is presupposed that the of measurement apparatuses are typically independent of each other. The

distant measurement outcomes in the EPR/B experiment are real physical second possible explanation is to postulate causation from the

events. Recall (section 5.3.3) that in Albert and Loewer's (1988) many- measurement events backward to the source at the emission time. (For

minds interpretation this is not the case. In this interpretation, definite advocates of this way out of non-locality, see Costa de Beauregard 1977,

measurement outcomes are (typically) not physical events. In particular, 1979, 1985, Sutherland 1983, 1998, 2006 and Price 1984, 1994, 1996,

the pointers of the measurement apparatuses in the EPR/B experiment do chapters 3, 8 and 9.) Maudlin (1994, p. 197-201) argues that theories that

not display any definite outcomes. Measurement outcomes in the EPR/B postulate such causal mechanism are inconsistent. Berkovitz (2002,

experiment exist only as (non-physical) mental states in observers' minds section 5) argues that Maudlin's line of reasoning is based on unwarranted

(which are postulated to be non-physical entities). So sacrificing some of premises. Yet, as we shall see in section 10.3, this way out of non-locality

our most fundamental presuppositions about the physical reality and faces some challenges. Furthermore, while a violation of λ-independence

assuming a controversial mind-body dualism, the many-minds provides a way out of Bell's theorem, it does not necessarily imply

interpretation of quantum mechanics does not postulate any action at a locality; for the violation of λ-independence is compatible with the failure

distance or superluminal causation between the distant wings of the of factorizability.

68 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 69

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

of factorizability. models of the EPR/B experiment (i.e., viable models which do not

postulate any non-locality) are possible. Indeed, so far none of the

A third way around non-locality is to ‘exploit’ the inefficiency of attempts to construct local, non-factorisable models for EPR/B

measurement devices or (more generally) measurement set-ups. In any experiments has been successful.

actual EPR/B experiment, many of the particle pairs emitted from the

source fail to be detected, so that only a sample of the particle pairs is 10. Can quantum non-locality be reconciled with

observed. Assuming that the observed samples are not biased, it is now

relativity?

generally agreed that the statistical predictions of orthodox quantum

mechanics have been vindicated (for a review of these experiments, see The question of the compatibility of quantum mechanics with the special

Redhead 1987, section 4.5). But if this assumption is abandoned, there are theory of relativity is very difficult to resolve. (The question of the

perfectly local causal explanations for the actual experimental results compatibility of quantum mechanics with the general theory of relativity

(Clauser and Horne 1974, Fine 1982b, 1989a). Many believe that this way is even more involved.) The answer to this question depends on the

out of non-locality is ad hoc, at least in light of our current knowledge. interpretation of special relativity and the nature of the exact constraints it

Moreover, this strategy would fail if the efficiency of measurement imposes on influences between events.

devices exceeded a certain threshold (for more details, see Fine 1989a,

Maudlin 1994, chapter 6, Larsson and Semitecolos 2000 and Larsson A popular view has it that special relativity prohibits any superluminal

2002). influences, whereas theories that violate factorizability seem to involve

such influences. Accordingly, it is held that quantum mechanics is

Finally, there are those who question the assumption that factorizability is incompatible with relativity. Another common view has it that special

a locality condition (Fine 1981, 1986, pp. 59-60, 1989b, Cartwright 1989, relativity prohibits only certain types of superluminal influence. Many

chaps. 3 and 6, Chang and Cartwright 1993). Accordingly, they deny that believe that relativity prohibits superluminal signaling of information.

non-factorizability implies non-locality. The main thrust of this line of Some also believe that this theory prohibits superluminal transport of

reasoning is that the principle of the common cause is not generally valid. matter-energy and/or action-at-a-distance. On the other hand, there is the

Some, notably Cartwright (1989) and Chang and Cartwright (1993), view that relativity per se prohibits only superluminal influences that are

challenge the assumption that common causes always screen off the incompatible with the special-relativistic space-time, the so-called

correlation between their effects, and accordingly they question the idea ‘Minkowski space-time,’ and that this prohibition is compatible with

that non-factorizability implies non-locality. Others, notably Fine, deny certain types of superluminal influences and superluminal signaling (for a

that correlations must have causal explanation. comprehensive discussion of this issue, see Maudlin, 1994, 1996, section

2).[34]

While these arguments challenge the view that the quantum realm as

depicted by non-factorizable models for the EPR/B experiment must It is commonly agreed that relativity requires that the descriptions of

involve non-locality, they do not show that viable local, non-factorizable physical reality (i.e., the states of systems, their properties, dynamical

models of the EPR/B experiment (i.e., viable models which do not laws, etc.) in different coordinate systems should be compatible with each

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

laws, etc.) in different coordinate systems should be compatible with each Assuming (for the sake of simplicity) that measurement events occur

other. In particular, descriptions of the state of systems in different instantaneously, state collapse occurs along a single spacelike hyperplane

foliations of spacetime into parallel spacelike hyperplanes, which that intersects the spacetime region of the L-measurement event—the

correspond to different inertial reference frames, are to be related to each hyperplane that represents the (absolute) time of the collapse. But this

other by the Lorentz transformations. If this requirement is to reflect the type of collapse dynamics would involve a preferred foliation of

structure of the Minkowski spacetime, these transformations must hold at spacetime, in violation of the spirit, if not the letter of the Minkowski

the level of individual processes, and not only at the level of ensembles of spacetime.

processes (i.e., at the statistical level) or observed phenomena. Indeed,

Bohm's theory, which is manifestly non-relativistic, satisfies the The current dynamical collapse models are not genuinely relativistic, and

requirement that the Lorentz transformations obtain at the level of the attempts to generalize them to the special relativistic domain have

observed phenomena. encountered difficulties (see, for example, the entry on collapse theories,

Ghirardi 1996, Pearle 1996, and references therein). A more recent

However, satisfying the Lorentz transformations at the level of individual attempt to address these difficulties due to Tumulka (2004) seems more

processes is not sufficient for compatibility with Minkowski spacetime; promising.

for the Lorentz transformations may also be satisfied at the level of

individual processes in theories that postulate a preferred inertial In an attempt to reconcile state collapse with special relativity, Fleming

reference frame (Bell 1976). Maudlin (1996, section 2) suggests that a (1989, 1992, 1996) and Fleming and Bennett (1989) suggested radical

theory is genuinely relativistic (both in spirit and letter) if it can be hyperplane dependence. In their theory, state collapse occurs along an

formulated without ascribing to spacetime any more, or different intrinsic infinite number of spacelike hyperplanes that intersect the spacetime

structure than the relativistic metrics.[35] The question of the region of the measurements. That is, in the EPR/B experiment a collapse

compatibility of relativity with quantum mechanics may be presented as occurs along all the hyperplanes of simultaneity that intersect the

follows: Could a quantum theory that does not encounter the measurement spacetime region of the L-measurement. Similarly, a collapse occurs

problem be relativistic in that sense? along all the hyperplanes of simultaneity that intersect the distant (space-

like separated) spacetime region of the R-measurement. Accordingly, the

10.1 Collapse theories hyperplane-dependent theory does not pick out any reference frame as

preferred, and the dynamics of the quantum states of systems and their

The main problem in reconciling collapse theories with special relativity properties can be reconciled with the Minkowski spacetime. Further, since

is that it seems very difficult to make state collapse (modeled as a real all the multiple collapses are supposed to be real (Fleming 1992, p. 109),

physical process) compatible with the structure of the Minkowski the predictions of orthodox quantum mechanics are reproduced in each

spacetime. In non-relativistic quantum mechanics, the earlier L- reference frame.

measurement in the EPR/B experiment induces a collapse of the

entangled state of the particle pair and the L-measurement apparatus. The hyperplane-dependent theory is genuinely relativistic. But the theory

Assuming (for the sake of simplicity) that measurement events occur does not offer any mechanism for state collapses, and it does not explain

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

does not offer any mechanism for state collapses, and it does not explain

10.2 No-collapse theories

how the multiple collapses are related to each other and how our

experience is accounted for in light of this multiplicity. Recall (section 5.3) that in no-collapse theories, quantum-mechanical

states always evolve according to a unitary and linear equation of motion

Myrvold (2002b) argues that state collapses can be reconciled with

(the Schrödinger equation in the non-relativistic case), and accordingly

Minkowski spacetime even without postulating multiple different

they never collapse. Since the wave function has a covariant dynamics,

collapses corresponding to different reference frames. That is, he argues

the question of the compatibility with relativity turns on the dynamics of

with respect to the EPR/B experiment that the collapses induced by the L-

the additional properties —the so-called ‘hidden variables’— that no-

and the R-measurement are local events in the L- and the R-wing

collapse theories typically postulate. In Albert and Loewer's many-minds

respectively, and that the supposedly different collapses (corresponding to

theory (see section 5.3.3), the wave function has covariant dynamics, and

different reference frames) postulated by the hyperplane-dependent theory

no additional physical properties are postulated. Accordingly, the theory

are only different descriptions of the same local collapse events. Focusing

is genuinely relativistic. Yet, as the compatibility with relativity is

on the state of the particle pair, the main idea is that the collapse event in

achieved at the cost of postulating that outcomes of measurements (and,

the L-wing is modeled by a (one parameter) family of operators (the

typically, any other perceived properties) are mental rather than physical

identity operator before the L-measurement and a projection to the

properties, many find this way of reconciling quantum mechanics with

collapsed state after the L-measurement), and it is local in the sense that it

relativity unsatisfactory.

is a projection on the Hilbert space of the L-particle; and similarly,

mutatis mutandis, for the R-particle. Yet, if the quantum state of the Other Everett-like interpretations attempt to reconcile quantum mechanics

particle pair represents their complete state (as the case is in the orthodox with the special theory of relativity without postulating such a

theory and the GRW/Pearle collapse models), these collapse events seem controversial mind-body dualism. Similarly to the many-minds

non-local. While the collapse in the L-wing may be said to be local in the interpretation of Albert and Loewer, and contrary to Bohm's theory and

above technical sense, it is by definition a change of local as well as modal interpretations, on the face of it these interpretations do not

distant (spacelike) properties. The operator that models the collapse in the postulate the existence of ‘hidden variables.’ But (recalling section 5.3.3)

L-wing transforms the entangled state of the particle pair—a state in these Everett-like interpretations face the challenge of making sense of

which the particles have no definite spins—into a product of non- our experience and the probabilities of outcomes, and critics of these

entangled states in which both particles have definite spins, and interpretations argue that this challenge cannot be met without adding

accordingly it causes a change of intrinsic properties in both the L- and some extra structure to the Everett interpretation (see Albert and Loewer

the R-wing. 1988, Albert 1992, pp. 114-5, Albert and Loewer 1996, Price 1996, pp.

226-227, and Barrett 1999, pp. 163-173); a structure that may render these

In any case, Myrvold's proposal demonstrates that even if state collapses

interpretations incompatible with relativity. Supporters of the Everett

are not hyperplane dependent, they need not be incompatible with

interpretation disagree. Recently, Deutsch (1999), Wallace (2002, 2003,

relativity theory.

2005a,b) and Greaves (2004) have suggested that Everettians can make

sense of the quantum-mechanical probabilities by appealing to decision-

74 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 75

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

sense of the quantum-mechanical probabilities by appealing to decision- be the same in EPR/B experiments in which the measurements are not

theoretical considerations. But this line of reasoning has been disputed distant from each other (i.e., when the measurements are timelike

(see Barnum et al. 2000, Lewis 2003b, Hemmo and Pitowsky 2005 and separated). If so, relativistic parameter-dependent theories would involve

Price 2006). backward causal influences. But, he argues, in deterministic, relativistic

parameter-dependent theories these influences would give rise to causal

Modal interpretations constitute another class of no-collapse paradoxes, i.e., inconsistent closed causal loops.

interpretations of quantum mechanics that were developed to reconcile

quantum mechanics with relativity (and to solve the measurement Furthermore, Arntzenius (1994) argues that all relativistic parameter-

problem). Yet, as the no-go theorems by Dickson and Clifton (1998), dependent theories are impossible on pain of causal paradoxes. In his

Arntzenius (1998) and Myrvold (2002) demonstrate, the earlier versions argument, he considers the probabilities of measurement outcomes in a

of the modal interpretation are not genuinely compatible with relativity setup in which two EPR/B experiments are causally connected to each

theory. Further, Earman and Ruetsche (2005) argue that a quantum-field other, so that the L-measurement outcome of the first EPR/B experiment

version of the modal interpretation (which is set in the context of determines the setting of the L-apparatus of the second EPR/B experiment

relativistic quantum-field theory), like the one proposed by Clifton and the R-measurement outcome of the second EPR/B experiment

(2000), would be subject to serious challenges. Berkovitz and Hemmo determines the setting of the R-apparatus of the first EPR/B experiment.

(2006a,b) develop a relational modal interpretation that escapes all the And he argues that in this experiment, relativistic parameter-dependent

above no-go theorems and to that extent seems to provide better prospects theories (deterministic or indeterministic) would give rise to closed causal

for reconciling quantum mechanics with special relativity. loops in which parameter dependence would be impossible. Thus, he

concludes that relativistic, parameter-dependent theories are impossible.

10.3 Quantum causal loops and relativity (Stairs (1989) anticipates the argument that the above experimental setup

may give rise to causal paradoxes in relativistic, parameter-dependent

Recall (section 8) that many believe that parameter-dependent theories

theories, but he stops short of arguing that such theories are impossible.)

(i.e., theories that violate parameter independence) are more difficult or

even impossible to reconcile with relativity. Recall also that one of the Berkovitz (1998b, section 3.2, 2002, section 4) argues that Arntzenius's

lines of argument for the impossibility of relativistic parameter-dependent line of reasoning fails because it is based on untenable assumptions about

theories is that such theories would give rise to causal paradoxes. In our the nature of probabilities in closed causal loops—assumptions that are

discussion, we focused on EPR/B experiments in which the measurements very natural in linear causal situations (where effects do not cause their

are distant (spacelike separated). In a relativistic parameter-dependent causes), but untenable in causal loops. (For an analysis of the nature of

theory, the setting of the nearby measurement apparatus in the EPR/B probabilities in causal loops, see Berkovitz 2001 and 2002, section 2.)

experiment would influence the probability of the distant (spacelike Thus, he concludes that the consistency of relativistic parameter-

separated) measurement outcome. Sutherland (1985, 1989) argues that it dependent theories cannot be excluded on the grounds of causal

is plausible to suppose that the realization of parameter dependence would paradoxes. He also argues that the real challenge for relativistic

be the same in EPR/B experiments in which the measurements are not parameter-dependent theories is concerned with their predictive power. In

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

parameter-dependent theories is concerned with their predictive power. In that if such retro-causal theories were true, they would involve closed

the causal loops predicted by relativistic parameter-dependent theories in causal loops in which the probabilities of outcomes that these theories

Arntzenius's suggested experiment, there is no known way to compute the assign will certainly deviate from the statistics of these outcomes. And,

frequency of events from the probabilities that the theories prescribe. similarly to Arntzenius's argument, Maudlin's argument also rests on

Accordingly, such theories would fail to predict any definite statistics of untenable assumptions about the nature of probabilities in causal loops

measurement outcomes for that experiment. This lack of predictability (for a further discussion of Maudlin's and Berkovitz's arguments and,

may also present some new opportunities. Due to this unpredictability, more generally, the prospects of Cramer's theory, see Kastner 2004).

there may be an empirical way for arbitrating between these theories and Furthermore, Berkovitz (2002, sections 2 and 5.4) argues that, similarly to

quantum theories that do not predicate the existence such causal loops in relativistic parameter-dependent theories, the main challenge for theories

Arntzenius's experiment. that postulate retro-causality is not causal paradoxes, but rather the fact

that their predictive power may be undermined. That is, the probabilities

Another attempt to demonstrate the impossibility of certain relativistic assigned by such theories may fail to predict the frequency of events in

quantum theories on the grounds of causal paradoxes is advanced by the loops they predicate. In particular, the local retro-causal theories that

Maudlin (1994, pp. 195-201). (Maudlin does not present his argument in Maudlin considers fail to assign any definite predictions for the frequency

these terms, but the argument is in effect based on such grounds.) Recall of measurement outcomes in certain experiments. Yet, some other

(sections 2 and 9) that a way to try to reconcile quantum mechanics with theories that predicate the existence of causal loops, such as Sutherland's

relativity is to account for the curious correlations between distant (2006) local time-symmetric Bohmian interpretation of quantum

systems by local backward influences rather than non-local influences. In mechanics, seem not to suffer from this problem.

particular, one may postulate that the correlations between the distant

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Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

1. Intuitively, the spin-component of a particle in a certain direction can

(PDF).

be thought of as its intrinsic angular momentum along that direction. But,

Valentini, A. and Westman, H. (2004), Dynamical origin of quantum

as we shall see in section 5, the nature of spin properties depends on the

probabilities (PDF).

interpretation of quantum mechanics. In any case, the exact nature of this

Wallace, D. (2002), Quantum probability and decision theory,

quantity will not be essential for what follows in sections 1-4. The

revisited, also available from PhilSci Archive.

important thing is that in various quantum states the properties of distant

––– (2005a), Epistemology quantised: circumstances in which we

physical systems may be curiously correlated.

should come to believe in the Everett interpretation (PDF).

––– (2005b), Quantum probability from subjective likelihood: 2. Recall Bell's (1981) example of Bertlmann's socks. ‘Dr. Bertlmann

improving on Deutsch's proof of the probability rule, also available likes to wear two socks of different colours. Which colour he will have on

from PhilSci Archive. a given foot on a given day is quite unpredictable. But when you see that

––– (2005c), Everett and structure. the first sock is pink you can already be sure that the second sock will not

be pink. Observation of the first, and experience of Bertlmann, gives

Related Entries immediate information about the second.’

Bell's Theorem | causation: causal processes | intrinsic vs. extrinsic 3. Two comments:

properties | physics: holism and nonseparability | physics: Reichenbach's

common cause principle | quantum mechanics | quantum mechanics: (i) In some Bell-type models of the EPR/B experiment, it is assumed that

Bohmian mechanics | quantum mechanics: collapse theories | quantum in addition to the pair's state and the settings of the measurement

mechanics: Everett's relative-state formulation of | quantum mechanics: apparatuses, there are other factors that may be relevant for the

Kochen-Specker theorem | quantum mechanics: many-worlds probabilities of measurement outcomes. In particular, in his presentation

interpretation of | quantum mechanics: modal interpretations of | quantum of stochastic, local models of the EPR/B experiment Bell (1971, p. 37)

theory: the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen argument in | supervenience | assumes that the setting of the apparatuses need not specify their entire

Uncertainty Principle relevant states. The outcomes may also be influenced by some other

aspects of the apparatus microstates, which may be different for the same

Acknowledgments settings (see also Jarrett 1984). More generally, in addition to the state of

the L- (R-) particle and the setting of the L- (R-) measurement apparatus,

For comments on earlier versions of this entry, I am very grateful to

there may be some other (local) physical quantities that are relevant for

Guido Bacciagaluppi.

the probability of the L- (R-) measurement outcome. That is, letting α and

β denote all the relevant local physical quantities (other than the settings)

Notes to Action at a Distance in Quantum that are relevant for the probability of the L- and the R-outcome

Mechanics respectively, in such models the single and joint probabilities of outcomes

will be: P λ l α (xl), P λ r β (xl) and P λ l r α β (xl & yr). We shall refer to this

98 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 99

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

will be: P λ l α (xl), P λ r β (xl) and P λ l r α β (xl & yr). We shall refer to this correspondence in the many-spaces approach. Third, as we shall see in

type of models in section 7. But, for the sake of simplicity, in the rest of the next section, factorizability can be analyzed into two conditions:

this entry we shall focus on the simpler models above. parameter independence and outcome independence. Berkovitz (2002)

argues that the meaning of parameter independence need not be the same

(ii) There are two different approaches to modeling the probabilities in in the two different approaches. That is, in some circumstances the

Bell-type models of the EPR/B experiment: The many-spaces and the parameter independence of the big-space approach expresses different

big-space approaches (see Butterfield 1989, 1992a). In the many-space properties than the parameter independence of the many-spaces approach.

approach, which we use in this review, each triple of pair's state, L- and Indeed, in these circumstances the parameter independence of the many-

R-setting labels a different probability space of measurement outcomes. spaces approach fails, whereas the parameter independence of the big-

For example, letting l and l′ be different L-apparatus settings, the space approach holds. For arguments for the superiority of the many-

probability P λ l r(xl & yr) belongs to one probability space, whereas the spaces approach over the big-space approach, see Butterfield (1989, p.

probability P λ l′ r(xl′ & yr) belongs to another. By contrast, in the big- 118), and Berkovitz (2002, section 4.2).

space approach, all the probabilities of a Bell-type model belong to one

big probability space. In this approach the probabilities of outcomes are 4. Or when the range of the values of λ is discrete,

expressed in terms of conditional probabilities. For example, the

probabilities P(xl & yr / λ & l & r) and P(xl′ & yr / λ & l′ & r) correspond P ψ l r(xl & yr) = ∑ λ P λ l r(xl & yr) · ρ ψ l r(λ),

to P λ l r (xl & yr) and P λ l′ r (xl′ & yr), respectively. (Note that in contrast to P ψ l (xl) = ∑ λ P λ l (xl) · ρ ψ l(λ), and

the above notation, in the literature probabilities of spin-measurement P ψ r(yr) = ∑ λ P λ r(yr) · ρ ψ r(λ).

outcomes in the big-space approach are frequently expressed as

5. For a dissenting view, see Fine (1981, 1982a), Cartwright (1989) and

conditional probabilities of non-specific spin-outcomes, i.e. the non-

Chang and Cartwright (1993). We shall discuss this view in section 9.

specific outcomes ‘up’ or ‘down’, given certain settings: P(x & y / λ & l

& r), where ‘x’ and ‘y’ denote non-specific outcomes.) Mathematically, 6. While the fullest analysis of factorizability is due to Jarrett, precursors

the two approaches can easily be related to each other. In particular, one are Suppes and Zanotti (1976) and van Fraassen (1982).

can construct a big-probability space in which the conditional

probabilities of outcomes, given a pair's state and apparatus settings, are 7. See van Fraassen (1982) and Jarrett (1984, 1989).

equal to the corresponding unconditional probabilities in the many-spaces

8. As we shall see below, in the literature the term ‘interpretation’ is

approaches: P(xl & yr / λ & l & r) = P λ l r (xl & yr), P(xl′ & yr / λ & l′ &

frequently used to refer to alternative quantum theories. The question of

r) = P λ l′ r (xl′ & yr), etc. But, conceptually the two approaches are

whether this use is justified and the criteria for distinguishing between an

different. First, in contrast to the many-spaces approach, in the big-space

interpretation of orthodox quantum mechanics and an alternative quantum

approach it is presupposed that settings always have definite probabilities

theory will be insubstantial for the considerations below.

(Butterfield 1989, p. 118, 1992a, section 2). Secondly, some of the

probabilities of the big-space approach, e.g. P(xl / λ & r), have no

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

9. For a history of the notion of action at a distance, see Hesse (1969). ‘up’ and z-spin ‘down,’ respectively). Suppose that we perform a z-spin

measurement on particle 1, and switch off the R-apparatus. Then

10. In reality, the position of different particles will be different: |up i> pi (suppressing for simplicity's sake the free time evolution of the two

(|down i> pi ). But this is immaterial for the analysis below. wavepackets as they move towards their respective Stern-Gerlach devices

and the states of the Stern-Gerlach devices), the state of the guiding field

11. This is a variant of the so-called ‘tails problem’ (see the entry on

during the L-measurement will be:

collapse theories, section 12, and Albert 1992, chapter 5).

1/√2 f2(z2) ( f1(z1 + g1T) |z-up>1 |z-down> 2 − f1(z1 − g1T) |z-down> 1 |z-up>2)

12. For a recent interesting discussion of Newton's view of action at a

distance, see Henry (1994), and references therein. where g1 is the coupling constant for the spin measurement on particle 1

(coupling the position and the spin degrees of freedoms that are related to

13. For the Clarke-Leibniz correspondence, see Alexander (1956).

the guidance of particle 1); and T is the duration of the measurement.

14. Of course, here ‘field’ is not intended to mean a field in the sense of Since the guiding field of the particle pair factorizes into f2(z2) and ( f1(z1

quantum field theory. + g1T) |z-up> 1 |z-down>2 − f1(z1 − g1T) |z-down>1 |z-up> 2), it follows

from the guiding equation that particle 2's velocity along the z-axis does

15. For discussions of this version of Bohm's theory, see for example not depend on particle 1's position.

Dürr, Goldstein and Zanghì (1992a), Albert (1992) and Cushing (1994).

18. See Bohm, Schiller and Tiomno (1955), Dewdney, Holland and

16. The wave function propagates according to the Schrödinger equation Kyprianidis (1987), Bohm and Hiley (1993, chapter 10), and Holland

in the ‘configuration’ space of the particles, which for an N-particle (1993).

system is a 3N-dimensional space, coordinatized by the 3N position

coordinates of the particles. For more details, see the entry on Bohmian 19. While in the minimal and the non-minimal Bohm theories, the wave

mechanics. function is interpreted as a field, Dürr, Goldstein and Zanghì (1997,

section 12) propose that the wave function should be interpreted as a

17. Here follows a more technical account of the above experiment parameter of a physical law. This, they argue, may explain why there is

according to the minimal Bohm theory. Let the wave function, i.e. the no action of configurations of particles on wave functions.

state of the guiding field, before any measurement occurs be:

20. For discussions of the above experiment in the non-minimal theory,

ψ = 1/√2f1(z1) f2(z2) ( |z-up> 1 |z-down>2 − |z-down>1 |z-up> 2), see Dewdney, Holland and Kyprianidis (1987), Bohm and Hiley (1993,

section 10.6), and Holland (1993, section 11.3).

where f1(z1) and f2(z2) are non-overlapping Gaussian wavepackets; z1

and z2 are respectively the positions of particle 1 and particle 2 along the 21. For discussions of the prospects of relativistic modal interpretations,

z-direction; and |z-up> and |z-down> are z-spin eigenstates (i.e. z-spin see Dickson and Clifton (1998), Arntzenius (1998), Myrvold (2002a),

‘up’ and z-spin ‘down,’ respectively). Suppose that we perform a z-spin Earman and Ruetsche (2005) and Berkovitz and Hemmo (2005, 2006a,b).

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

Earman and Ruetsche (2005) and Berkovitz and Hemmo (2005, 2006a,b). 27. The challenge is to explicate the nature of such holistic properties and

We shall discuss this issue at the end of this section and in section 10.2. to relate them to our experience.

22. If some of the ci are degenerate, the Schmidt biorthogonal 28. That is, the property of a system is given by the spectral

decomposition is not unique, and the properties assigned by the above decomposition of its so-called ‘reduced state’ (a statistical operator

rule are projections onto multi-dimensional subspaces. obtained by a partial tracing). For example, the reduced state of the L-

particle in the state |ψ9> is obtained by a partial tracing of |ψ 9> over the

23. Note the difference between |ψ9> and the singlet state |ψ 3>. In |ψ 9>, Hilbert space of the R-particle.

the coefficients of the two branches of the superposition are unequal. And

while EPR/B-like experiments can be prepared with both the state |ψ3> 30. The above formulation of screening off is motivated by the fact that

and the state |ψ9>, the difference between these states is significant for we work in the framework of the many-spaces approach to the

the above interpretation. For unlike |ψ3>, |ψ 9> has a unique factorization. probabilities of outcomes in Bell-type models of the EPR/B experiment.

Accordingly, the L- and the R-particle each have definite spin properties In the literature, the formulation of screening off is slightly different:

in the state |ψ9> but not in |ψ 3>.

P(x/y & CC(x,y)) = P(x / CC(x,y)) P(y / CC(x,y)) ≠ 0

24. In fact, as we shall see later in this section (in the discussion of

‘property composition’), this claim needs some qualification. P(y/x & CC(x,y)) = P(y / CC(x,y)) P(x / CC(x,y)) ≠ 0

25. In the original modal interpretations, the question of the relation 30. In his celebrated theorem, Bell did not mention Reichenbach's

between the dynamics of properties of systems and the dynamics of the principle or FactorUCP. But it is reasonable to assume that he had in

properties of their subsystems has been largely overlooked. For a mind some similar principles.

discussion of this issue, see Vermaas (1997, 1999), Berkovitz and Hemmo

(2005, 2006a,b). 31. There are some obvious candidates for superluminal signaling. First,

the potentials in the Schrödinger equation are Newtonian. Therefore, if

26. Similarly to any other physical object, the brain of a human observer one is allowed to vary the potential somewhere, this will be felt

has many different sets of relational properties, i.e. sets of properties that instantaneously throughout space. But, in the context of this entry such

are related to different systems. Brain properties that are defined relative superluminal signaling is less interesting because it will be due to

to different systems are generally different. Thus, the question arises as to Newtonian effects rather than quantum effects. Second, wave functions

which of these different brain properties are correlated to our beliefs can spread instantaneously: If you have a particle confined to a box (so

about the properties of physical systems that figure in our experience. For that its wave function is zero outside the box) and open the box, the wave

a discussion of this question, see Berkovitz and Hemmo (2005, section 6, function will instantaneously be non-zero everywhere, and superluminal

2006b, section 6). signaling will be possible. It is noteworthy, however, that the preparation

of such state requires the existence of an infinite potential barrier—a state

that is impossible. In any case, in what follows we shall focus on the

104 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Spring 2009 Edition 105

Action at a Distance in Quantum Mechanics Joseph Berkovitz

that is impossible. In any case, in what follows we shall focus on the particles. But a little reflection on the grave difficulties involved with that

question of whether the non-locality in the EPR/B experiment, as depicted task suggests that the physical feasibility and plausibility of any such

by various interpretations of quantum mechanics, can be exploited to give separable model of the EPR/B experiment will be highly questionable.

rise to superluminal signaling.

34. Friedman (1983, sections 4.6-4.7) holds that special relativity per se

32. Note that according to this suggestion, the statistical predictions of does not prohibit superluminal signaling, but that such signaling will lead

Bohm's theory slightly deviate from the statistical predictions of orthodox to paradoxes of time travel. Maudlin (1994, pp. 112-116) argues that

quantum mechanics. superluminal signaling need not imply such paradoxes, as the conditions

for them are much more complex than merely the existence of

33. It is noteworthy, however, that while separability does not imply OI, superluminal signaling.

the prospects of separable models that violate OI are dim. To see why, let

us consider Maudlin's (1994, p. 98) criticism of Howard's claim that OI 35. As Maudlin (1996, pp. 292-293) notes, it is not clear that a general

follows from spatiotemporal separability. Maudlin invites us to consider criterion for identifying a structure of spacetime as intrinsic could be

the following model for the EPR/B experiment. Suppose that each particle found.

had some means of superluminal communication, which may be realized

by a tachyon. Suppose also that each of the particles carries the same Copyright © 2009 by the author

a state of being ready to measure z-spin, its state of not having definite z-

spin evolves with equal chance to either the state of having z-spin ‘up’ or

the state of having z-spin ‘down.’ It then communicates to its partner the

setting of its measurement apparatus and the outcome of the

measurement. If it receives a message from its partner, its state is

modified accordingly, so that the new chance of spin outcomes agrees

with the predictions of orthodox quantum mechanics. Such a model will

involve a violation of OI, but by construction it is separable: The particles

and the tachyons have separable states at all times, and the joint state of

any two systems is just the product of their individual states. Yet, the

model will be separable in the intended sense only if the above set of

communication instructions could be encoded into the qualitative,

intrinsic properties of each of the particles, and each of the particles could

keep an open line of communication with its partner and no other

particles. But a little reflection on the grave difficulties involved with that

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