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The Impossibility of Accurate State Self-Measurements

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2022

Thomas Breuer*
Department of History and Philosophy of Science University of Cambridge, UK


It is shown that it is impossible for an observer to distinguish all present states of a system in which he or she is contained, irrespective of whether this system is a classical or a quantum mechanical one and irrespective of whether the time evolution is deterministic or stochastic. As a corollary, this implies that it is impossible for an observer to measure the EPR-correlations between himself or herself and an outside system. Implications of the main result are discussed for how we have to conceive of universally valid theories.

Research Article
Copyright © Philosophy of Science Association 1995

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I am grateful to Jeremy Butterfield, Dennis Dieks, Joseph Melia, Peter Mittelstaedt, Michael Redhead, and an anonymous referee for comments on drafts of this paper.

Send reprint requests to the author, Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 1RD, England.


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