Causality and chance in relativistic quantum field theories

Richard A. Healey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Bell appealed to the theory of relativity in formulating his principle of local causality. But he maintained that quantum field theories do not conform to that principle, even when their field equations are relativistically covariant and their observable algebras satisfy a relativistically motivated microcausality condition. A pragmatist view of quantum theory and an interventionist approach to causation prompt the reevaluation of local causality and microcausality. Local causality cannot be understood as a reasonable requirement on relativistic quantum field theories: it is unmotivated even if applicable to them. But microcausality emerges as a sufficient condition for the consistent application of a relativistic quantum field theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-167
Number of pages12
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Issue numberPB
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Bell correlations
  • Causal intervention
  • Local causality
  • Microcausality
  • Pragmatist interpretation
  • Relativistic quantum field theories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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