According to the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where multiple(a very high number) possibilities are realised, can there even be a basis for morality in some particular branches?

If taken completely at its face value, many worlds leads to possible worlds where a person is the worst possible version of him/her self, committing the most heinous crimes imaginable. Also to a world where every person is encouraged and rewarded to inflict the maximum harm possible on others. For the sake of argument, lets consider it to be a world full of people that by the standards of today would be extremely horrific, a population purely dominated by serial rapists,torturers and murderers, with rampant slavery and every thing we consider inhuman.

Our world has experienced all this but has gradually become a lot better. But lets take the branches in which the arc goes in the opposite direction i.e things keep on getting worse.

Should it just be taken as a by-product of a possible theory?

Or is there a way to make sense of morality in this picture?

New contributor
Yash Sharma is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
  • There is no "one person", each branch features its own person responsible for what they have done in that branch. And since the branches do not interact after splitting the implications for morality are null, it makes literally no difference whether there is one timeline or many. For example, under libertarian free will a person's genes and birth circumstances do not predetermine what they will do even with a single timeline. – Conifold Aug 1 at 4:35
  • @Conifold I agree there is no 'one person'. I have updated the question to correct that. Now its about a general population in any particular branch. – Yash Sharma Aug 1 at 11:30
  • Multiverse does not cancel laws of physics or biology, so it does not realize "every possibility" despite loose popular talk to that effect. The society you describe will not be viable, so it will not develop in any branch. But even if it did, what effect what happens there is supposed to have on what should happen, i.e. morality? – Conifold Aug 1 at 11:43
  • 2
    @Conifold You are right that 'every possibility' is a factually incorrect term to use with many worlds (updated question). As for the society not being viable and hence not developing in any branch, why would that be? It is not disallowed by any natural laws. Such a society may not survive as long as ones like ours do, but that does not mean it wouldn't occur. As for the effect on morality, that's what I am trying to understand, does it mean that no matter what, there will always be a branch with such horrific consequences? – Yash Sharma Aug 1 at 13:00
  • @YashSharma - Many advocates of the MWI try to derive some notion of relative probabilities of different outcomes from the universal wavefunction, although there is still controversy about how to do that. For the sake of the question can we assume there are different probabilities, so that even if all outcomes occur, some occur with far higher probability than others? If so it seems to me you can ground morality in a consequentialist sense of behaviors that help contribute to a higher probability of good outcomes as opposed to bad outcomes, do you have any objections to this basic idea? – Hypnosifl Aug 1 at 17:25

The laws of statistics and large numbers apply not only across the aggregate multiverse but also within each individual universe.

Every branch world will inherit the same laws of nature and consequently of evolution. In every branch, excess immorality will be corrected by evolutionary processes. Similarly, excess morality will be corrected. The end result will be a society in broadly balanced conflict about these things, because evolution has found this to be optimal and will always return to it in the long run.

Of course different universes will vary arbitrarily about some mean balance, just as different societies in this universe do, but those variations will be no more permanent than ours are.

| improve this answer | |
  • Maybe I am not understanding how branching occurs, and let me know if its that. But lets consider we start with 1 branch that splits into 2, one that gets better and another that gets worse, now with this 'bad branch' (2nd one) splitting occurs again, and so on. At some point, branches that we care about, may stop when the population goes extinct due to its individuals being hell-bent on destruction. Evolution may always tend towards balance, but most of the species still go extinct, it does not guarantee survival and optimality. With MWI, the problem is that such an outcome is almost certain. – Yash Sharma Aug 2 at 16:46
  • The quantum branching of universes is essentially random. Evolution begins that way but includes a crucial second step of selection for survivability, i.e. pruning. If you forget that and conflate the two processes, you will end up in exactly the muddle you have. – Guy Inchbald Aug 2 at 17:14
  • Not discounting selection for survivability, it will operate as it always does. But that's not the only force at work. If a civilisation is necessarily bent towards its own destruction (knowingly or unknowingly), then why would evolution be able to stop that? With MWI, such a civilisation is almost certain. Of course I am missing lot of things that can help get out of this problem, but what they are isn't clearly laid out. – Yash Sharma Aug 2 at 17:27
  • There have been civilizations which did just that (though not for amoral reasons) and got pruned. They were soon replaced by new civilizations with more balanced cultures. Evolution acts on the wider picture, it does not follow narrow lines of logic-chopping. You seem so sure of yourself, I wonder why you felt the need to ask a question here. – Guy Inchbald Aug 2 at 18:04
  • I agree there have been civilisations that have done that. The point of concern is that in MWI, will a multiple number of such bad civilisations always exist (until they get pruned)? – Yash Sharma Aug 2 at 18:39

Your Answer

Yash Sharma is a new contributor. Be nice, and check out our Code of Conduct.

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.