Deutsch's CTC Model and its Implications for the Foundations of Quantum Theory

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This dissertation is an exploration of several issues surrounding David Deutsch’s CTC model first introduced in his 1991 paper “Quantum Mechanics Near Closed Timelike Lines”. Deutsch developed his model to account for the effects of quantum theory, which had been left out of classical discussions of time travel paradoxes. Deutsch’s formulation of his model in terms of quantum computational circuits lends itself to being adopted in the quantum information community.

The dissertation argues that the adoption of the D-CTC model entails the existence of Nonlocal Signaling, which is in conflict with a fundamental principle of the quantum information approach. In order to motivate this argument, in Chapter 2 I introduce a distinction between Nonlocal Signaling, and Superluminal Information Transfer. In the latter case, a carrier of information physically traverses the space between the distant communicating parties faster than the speed of light. Exploiting quantum entanglement to signal, however, need not have this feature. I term this Nonlocal Signaling. Chapter 3 is where I present the argument that D-CTCs entail Nonlocal Signaling, and examine the controversy surrounding this and related

results. I argue that the resistance to these kinds of predictions in the literature is motivated by a commitment to the principles of quantum information theory, which are inappropriately applied here.

Chapters 4 and 5 examine details of Deutsch’s model. Chapter 4 argues that it presupposes a significant metaphysical picture that, when explicitly stated, makes a much less comfortable fit between D-CTCs and quantum information theory. Chapter 5 argues that, because of Deutsch’s commitment to this metaphysical picture, he is committed to the existence of physical situations that are in every way indistinguishable from the paradoxes he attempts to rule out by adopting the model in the first place.

In Chapter 6, I make some observations about the relationship between the quantum information-theoretic approach to the interpretation of quantum theory, and the approaches focused primarily on arguing for one or another underlying ontology. Deutsch’s model is situated squarely in the latter camp. It serves as a useful example in pulling apart the implications of the two approaches.

In conclusion, I argue that the quantum information-theoretic interpretation of quantum theory, in denying the fundamentality of any particular ontology, in favor of kinematical principles, is in tension with the metaphysical commitments of the Deutsch model. Deutsch’s interpretational stance is among the metaphysically-motivated positions. I argue that this element of the Deutsch model is essential to the solutions it offers to the paradoxes of time travel, and therefore the D-CTC model cannot be adopted without implicitly endorsing Deutsch’s metaphysical commitments. This feature makes the D-CTC model an uncomfortable fit with QIT.