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Abstract Details

Activity Number: 443
Type: Invited
Date/Time: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 : 8:30 AM to 10:20 AM
Sponsor: International Chinese Statistical Association
Abstract - #303846
Title: Stochastic Counterfactuals, Sufficient Causes, and Quantum Mechanics
Author(s): James Robins*+ and Tyler VanderWeele
Companies: Harvard University and Harvard School of Public Health
Address: 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, USA
Keywords: interaction ; stochastic ; quantum mechanics

Informally, two causes interact if both must be present to bring about an outcome of interest. A mathematical theory of sufficient cause interactions has been developed to formalize this idea. This theory posits the existence of deterministic counterfactuals. In this talk, we consider how to extend the theory to allow for stochastic counterfactuals. Philosophically, this extension seems important because quantum mechanics, our most successful theory of nature, is believed to be inherently stochastic. But more is true. We show that our mathematical theory of sufficient cause interactions, when combined with the results of experiments, can in a certain sense, actually be used, to "prove" that quantum mechanics must be inherently stochastic. Specifically, we show that the theory leads to a concise proof of Bell's inequality.

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