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Locality, Causality, and Realism in the Derivation of Bell's Inequality

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2013
Author Wüthrich Adrian,
Project Local causality in quantum mechanics: The essential assumptions of Bell's theorem under scrutiny
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Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)

Book New Vistas on Old Problems: Recent Approaches to the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics
Publisher Edition Open Access, Berlin
Page(s) 149 - 161
ISBN 9783844242843
Title of proceedings New Vistas on Old Problems: Recent Approaches to the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics

Open Access


For several years, a significant disagreement has persisted between (mainly) philosophers, and (mainly) physicists concerning the consequences of the empirical violation of Bell’s inequality. On the one hand, it is claimed that empirical violations of Bell’s inequality show us that the world is “non-local,” which might give rise to a serious conflict with the special theory of relativity. On the other hand, several authors maintain that this conflict can be avoided by giving up a “realistic” interpretation of quantum mechanics. I use a recent derivation of a Bell-type inequality from Reichenbach’s principle of the common cause to explicate the different notions of “non-locality” and “realism” involved in the debate, and to assess the adequacy of the different claims. My two main conclusions are: First, if “realism” is understood as the existence of sufficient conditions for the measurement outcomes in the experimental setups under consideration, giving it up will not allow us to maintain locality. Second, however,will argue that there is, in fact, a plausible notion of “realism” which we could reject in order to save locality. Instead of challenging the special theory of relativity, this option impugns common notions of causality.