The Minimal Modal Interpretation of Quantum Theory

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A persistent mystery of quantum theory is whether it admits an interpretation that is realist, self-consistent, model-independent, and unextravagant in the sense of featuring neither multiple worlds nor pilot waves. In this talk, I will present a new interpretation of quantum theory -- called the minimal modal interpretation (MMI) -- that aims to meet these conditions while also hewing closely to the basic structure of the theory in its widely accepted form. The MMI asserts that quantum systems -- whether closed or open -- have actual states that evolve along kinematical trajectories through their state spaces, and that those trajectories are governed by specific (if approximate) dynamical rules determined by a general new class of conditional probabilities, and in a manner that differs significantly from the de Broglie-Bohm formulation. The MMI is axiomatically parsimonious, leaves the usual dynamical content of quantum theory essentially intact, and includes only metaphysical entities that are either already a standard part of quantum theory or that have counterparts in classical physics. I will also address a number of important issues and implicit assumptions in the foundations community that I believe merit reconsideration and re-evaluation going forward.