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Bernard D'Espagnat in this article in Scientific American writes:

Of the three premises realism is the most fundamental. Realism can be stated formally as the belief that a mere description of data is not all that should be required of a theory. Even an empirical rule for predicting the patterns of future measurements is not enough. The mind demands something more: not necessarily determinism-there is nothing intrinsically irrational about randomness-but at least objective explanations of observed regularities, or in other words causes. Underlying this demand is the intuitive notion that the world outside the self is real and has at least some properties that exist independently of human consciousness.

The last sentence appears uncontentious: There was a time when there were no human beings and yet the universe existed. Thus the universe is independent of human consciousness. However this objection seems such an easy one to make that there must be other good reasons why some are prepared to countenance a mind-dependent universe even on physical grounds and why they forego the previous objection. It seems plausible that a distinction has to be made between mind-indepedent and human-mind-independent, and its the latter that the forgoing objection disposes of. Is this it, or am I missing something else more fundamental here? If so, what are they?

  • There's another line of argument one could hold, perhaps, which is not to deny that there's a mind independent reality, but (in a Kantian spirit) to deny that it is knowable by human minds. – Quentin Ruyant Feb 12 '18 at 16:24
  • @QuentinRuyant: sure, D'Espagnat does go into Kant in the book and I think he personally is sympathtic towards that view. – Mozibur Ullah Feb 12 '18 at 17:05
  • Are we starting from assumptions, such as "there was a time when there were no human beings and yet the universe existed?" These assumptions seem trivial. They're even baked into religious documents long before the dawn of science. Yet they are frustratingly hard to prove, unless you weaken the meaning of the verb "prove." – Cort Ammon Feb 12 '18 at 18:53
  • I think the last statement is a better expression of realism than "the belief that a mere description of data is not all that should be required of a theory", which any pragmatic empiricist would agree with. "There was a time when... universe existed" already presupposes that categories like "time" and "universe" are objective, which is highly doubtful given their human roots. Many, like Wittgenstein, object to such "God's eye view" that traditional realism is forced to adopt. The question is not so much mind-independence, everything we conceive is mind-dependent, as independence of our whims. – Conifold Feb 12 '18 at 20:44
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    Maybe relevant is Rovelli's relational interpretation of QM where physical states are relative to "observers", and observers are any physical system (not necessarily human). However he doesn't mean to say that this is mind dependence. – Quentin Ruyant Feb 13 '18 at 7:54
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Quantum mechanics doesn't just give probabilistic futures, it does the same to the past. The anthropic principle takes that to a futhest extent, did the presence in this universes timeline of minds, collapse the wave function into just this set of fine-tuned fundamental constants?

We can't truly escape our observations being through minds, being subjective, even when we balance that by network and comparing notes with other subjective instances of mind.

Cause & effect, time, materiality, all open to question.

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