Does MWI imply solipsism?

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Hi guys,

I am new to physics forums and am an undergrad who is really interested in the philosophical implications of quantum physics. I know this isn’t a philosophy forum but upon skimming older threads regarding MWI I have come across an interesting number of posts by a few members named vanesch and ttn. Here is the post I was just looking at:

https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/what-is-an-element-of-reality.62205/page-10#post-714587

They seemed to be suggesting that the only way the principle of relativity can be saved is with MWI - which is also solipsistic (i.e. everyone only experiences their own world where none of their friends are conscious). Does MWI really entail a sort of solipsism (like they suggest)? And is this the only way the principle of relativity can be saved? Kind of a crazy idea!
 

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They seemed to be suggesting that the only way the principle of relativity can be saved is with MWI
That is not true.
which is also solipsistic (i.e. everyone only experiences their own world where none of their friends are conscious)
That is not true either, and I have no idea why you would think so.

None of the interpretations of quantum mechanics (except many minds, but that is really exotic) have a special role for consciousness in any way.
 
andrewkirk
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MWI - which is also solipsistic (i.e. everyone only experiences their own world where none of their friends are conscious).
So far as I know, MWI doesn't say anything about consciousness. Base quantum mechanics is unable to say anything about consciousness, as it is a theory about observables, and consciousness is not observable. MWI, being only an interpretation (ie speculative hypothesis / philosophy) is not subject to that restriction, so it is 'allowed to' refer to consciousness - but I have never heard it suggested that it does and, not having read Everett (its inventor) in the original, I have not checked.

Based on my understanding of it, MWI doesn't say anything about consciousness. It does have implications for what we mean when we say 'I' or 'you', but I don't see that as implying anything about solipsism.
 
andrewkirk
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That is not true either, and I have no idea why you would think so.
I got the impression that jonathan himself doesn't think that. Rather, he formed the impression that the posters he was reading thought that, and he wondered why they did, and whether others agreed with them. You and I don't, for two to start.
 
Demystifier
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MWI is not solipsistic. But some forms of orthodox interpretation, namely those which say that physical variables don't exist until they are observed, are very close to solipsism. The only thing which saves them from explicit solipsism is their vagueness.
 
jim mcnamara
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Mentor note: we do not do philosophy even though we have mentor participation. The thread cited is from 2005 when we tried to allow philosophic discussions.

PF rules clearly state: no philosophic discussions. Thread locked. If another mentor so chooses we may take another course of action.
 

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