Probabilism for Stochastic Theories

Forthcoming in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.

Preprint: arXiv

I defend an analog of probabilism that characterizes rationally coherent estimates for chances. Specifically, I demonstrate the following accuracy-dominance result for stochastic theories in the C*-algebraic framework: supposing an assignment of chance values is possible if and only if it is given by a pure state on a given algebra, your estimates for chances avoid accuracy-dominance if and only if they are given by a state on that algebra. When your estimates avoid accuracy-dominance (roughly: when you cannot guarantee that other estimates would be more accurate), I say that they are sufficiently coherent. In formal epistemology and quantum foundations, the notion of rational coherence that gets more attention requires that you never allow for a sure loss (or ‘Dutch book’) in a given sort of betting game; I call this notion full coherence. I characterize when these two notions of rational coherence align, and I show that there is a quantum state giving estimates that are sufficiently coherent, but not fully coherent.

Two Forms of Inconsistency in Quantum Foundations

With Nicholas J. Teh. Forthcoming in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

Preprint: arXiv, PhilSci Archive

Recently, there has been some discussion of how Dutch Book arguments might be used to demonstrate the rational incoherence of certain hidden variable models of quantum theory (Feintzeig and Fletcher 2017). In this paper, we argue that the ‘form of inconsistency’ underlying this alleged irrationality is deeply and comprehensively related to the more familiar ‘inconsistency’ phenomenon of contextuality. Our main result is that the hierarchy of contextuality due to Abramsky and Brandenburger (2011) corresponds to a hierarchy of additivity/convexity-violations which yields formal Dutch Books of different strengths. We then use this result to provide a partial assessment of whether these formal Dutch Books can be interpreted normatively.

Betting on Quantum Objects

Preprint: arXiv, PhilSci Archive

Dutch book arguments have been applied to beliefs about the outcomes of measurements of quantum systems, but not to beliefs about quantum objects prior to measurement. In this paper, we prove a quantum version of the probabilists’ Dutch book theorem that applies to both sorts of beliefs: roughly, if ideal beliefs are given by vector states, all and only Born-rule probabilities avoid Dutch books. This theorem and associated results have implications for operational and realist interpretations of the logic of a Hilbert lattice. In the latter case, we show that the defenders of the eigenstate-value orthodoxy face a trilemma. Those who favor vague properties avoid the trilemma, admitting all and only those beliefs about quantum objects that avoid Dutch books.