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David Lewis Meets John Bell

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2022

Jeremy Butterfield*
Affiliation:
Philosophy Faculty, Cambridge University
*
Send reprint requests to the author, Jesus College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, CB5 8BL, U.K.

Abstract

The violation of the Bell inequality means that measurement-results in the two wings of the experiment cannot be screened off from one another, in the sense of Reichenbach. But does this mean that there is causation between the results? I argue that it does, according to Lewis's counterfactual analysis of causation and his associated views. The reason lies in his doctrine that chances evolve by conditionalization on intervening history. This doctrine collapses the distinction between the conditional probabilities that are used to state screening off, and the counterfactuals with chance consequents that are used to state lack of causation. I briefly discuss ways to evade my argument.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Philosophy of Science Association 1992

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Footnotes

For comments and conversations, I would like to thank an anonymous referee; audiences at the Universities of Cambridge, Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern, Princeton, Stanford and Western Ontario, and the 1988 conference of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science; Harvey Brown, Nancy Cartwright, Rob Clifton, and especially David Lewis.

§

Note added in proof: R. Clifton (forthcoming) has strengthened the argument of this paper by considering the strict correlations in a 3-particle thought experiment due to Greenberger et al.: He shows that these correlations and locality together imply deterministic Lewisian causation between measurement-results.

References

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