John Bell Workshop 2014

Reply to Norsen’s paper “Are there really two di fferent Bell’s theorems?”

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    AvatarHoward Wiseman

    Yes. That is my polemical reply to the titular question in Travis Norsen’s self-styled “polemical response to Howard Wiseman’s recent paper.” Less polemically, I am pleased to see that Norsen has made significant concessions on my position that Bell’s 1964 theorem is different from Bell’s 1976 theorem, and that the former does not include Bell’s one-paragraph heuristic presentation of the EPR argument. In his response, Norsen admits that “Bell’s recapitulation of the EPR argument in [the relevant] paragraph leaves something to be desired,” that it “disappoints” and is ”problematic”. Moreover, Norsen makes other statements that imply, on the face of it, that he should have no objections to the title of my recent paper (“The Two Bell’s Theorems of John Bell”). My principle aim in writing that paper was to try to bridge the gap between two interpretational camps, whom I call ‘operationalists’ and ‘realists’, by pointing out that they use the phrase “Bell’s theorem” to mean different things: his 1964 theorem (assuming locality and determinism) and his 1976 theorem (assuming local causality), respectively. Thus it is heartening that at least one person from one side has taken one step on my bridge. That said, there are several issues of interpretation where Norsen and I still disagree, and these I address after discussing the extent to which we now agree. The most significant points of disagreement are: the indefiniteness of the word ‘locality’ prior to 1964; and the assumptions Einstein made in the paper quoted by Bell in 1964 and their relation to Bell’s theorem. Full text

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