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Why Boltzmann Brains Are Bad

In Shamik Dasgupta, Brad Weslake & Ravit Dotan (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 7-20 (2020)

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  1. Infinite Aggregation and Risk.Hayden Wilkinson - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (2):340-359.
    For aggregative theories of moral value, it is a challenge to rank worlds that each contain infinitely many valuable events. And, although there are several existing proposals for doing so, few provide a cardinal measure of each world's value. This raises the even greater challenge of ranking lotteries over such worlds—without a cardinal value for each world, we cannot apply expected value theory. How then can we compare such lotteries? To date, we have just one method for doing so (proposed (...)
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  • Infinite aggregation: expanded addition.Hayden Wilkinson - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):1917-1949.
    How might we extend aggregative moral theories to compare infinite worlds? In particular, how might we extend them to compare worlds with infinite spatial volume, infinite temporal duration, and infinitely many morally valuable phenomena? When doing so, we face various impossibility results from the existing literature. For instance, the view we adopt can endorse the claim that worlds are made better if we increase the value in every region of space and time, or that they are made better if we (...)
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  • Aggregation in an infinite, relativistic universe.Hayden Wilkinson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-29.
    Aggregative moral theories face a series of devastating problems when we apply them in a physically realistic setting. According to current physics, our universe is likely _infinitely large_, and will contain infinitely many morally valuable events. But standard aggregative theories are ill-equipped to compare outcomes containing infinite total value so, applied in a realistic setting, they cannot compare any outcomes a real-world agent must ever choose between. This problem has been discussed extensively, and non-standard aggregative theories proposed to overcome it. (...)
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  • The Weirdness of the World.Eric Schwitzgebel - 2024 - Princeton University Press.
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  • The Skeptical Challenge of the Theistic Multiverse.John Pittard - 2022 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9.
    The multiverse theodicy says that because God can without cost create an infinite number of universes, the standards of acceptability that a conceivable universe must meet to be worthy of divine creation are significantly laxer than is typically supposed in discussions of the problem of evil. While the prospect of a theistic multiverse arguably helps the theist to explain suffering, I argue that it also poses a serious skeptical worry. Given the alleged laxity of the standards that a universe must (...)
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  • Too much of a good thing: decision-making in cases with infinitely many utility contributions.Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7309-7349.
    Theories that use expected utility maximization to evaluate acts have difficulty handling cases with infinitely many utility contributions. In this paper I present and motivate a way of modifying such theories to deal with these cases, employing what I call “Direct Difference Taking”. This proposal has a number of desirable features: it’s natural and well-motivated, it satisfies natural dominance intuitions, and it yields plausible prescriptions in a wide range of cases. I then compare my account to the most plausible alternative, (...)
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  • Neo-Lorentzian Relativity and the Beginning of the Universe.Daniel Linford - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-38.
    Many physicists have thought that absolute time became otiose with the introduction of Special Relativity. William Lane Craig disagrees. Craig argues that although relativity is empirically adequate within a domain of application, relativity is literally false and should be supplanted by a Neo-Lorentzian alternative that allows for absolute time. Meanwhile, Craig and co-author James Sinclair have argued that physical cosmology supports the conclusion that physical reality began to exist at a finite time in the past. However, on their view, the (...)
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  • The Problem of Nomological Harmony.Brian Cutter & Bradford Saad - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Our universe features a harmonious match between laws and states: applying its laws to its states generates other states. This is a striking fact. Matters might have been otherwise. The universe might have been stillborn in a state unengaged by its laws. The problem of nomological harmony is that of explaining the noted striking fact. After introducing and developing this problem, we canvass candidate solutions and identify some of their virtues and vices. Candidate solutions invoke the likes of a designer, (...)
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  • Time's arrow and self‐locating probability.Eddy Keming Chen - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 105 (3):533-563.
    One of the most difficult problems in the foundations of physics is what gives rise to the arrow of time. Since the fundamental dynamical laws of physics are (essentially) symmetric in time, the explanation for time's arrow must come from elsewhere. A promising explanation introduces a special cosmological initial condition, now called the Past Hypothesis: the universe started in a low-entropy state. Unfortunately, in a universe where there are many copies of us (in the distant ''past'' or the distant ''future''), (...)
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  • Center Indifference and Skepticism.David Builes - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Many philosophers have been attracted to a restricted version of the principle of indifference in the case of self-locating belief. Roughly speaking, this principle states that, within any given possible world, one should be indifferent between different hypotheses concerning who one is within that possible world, so long as those hypotheses are compatible with one’s evidence. My first goal is to defend a more precise version of this principle. After responding to several existing criticisms of such a principle, I argue (...)
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  • A Reasonable Little Question: A Formulation of the Fine-Tuning Argument.Luke A. Barnes - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6.
    A new formulation of the Fine-Tuning Argument (FTA) for the existence of God is offered, which avoids a number of commonly raised objections. I argue that we can and should focus on the fundamental constants and initial conditions of the universe, and show how physics itself provides the probabilities that are needed by the argument. I explain how this formulation avoids a number of common objections, specifically the possibility of deeper physical laws, the multiverse, normalisability, whether God would fine-tune at (...)
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  • The Boltzmann Brains Puzzle.Ron Avni - 2022 - Noûs 57 (4):958-972.
    Leading cosmological theories engender a controversial puzzle which has prompted philosophers to propose competing epistemological solutions and physicists to propose methodological changes to cosmology. The puzzle arises from the prediction that every brain on Earth will eventually be vastly outnumbered by physical duplicates formed by random collisions of particles in outer space. Supposing that this prediction is correct, shouldn't you believe that your brain is probably one of these vastly more typical extraterrestrial brains, since you cannot infer your brain's origin (...)
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  • Hallucination as Perceptual Synecdoche.Jonathon VandenHombergh - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    Relationalism is the view that perception is partly constituted by external objects (McDowell 1994; Campbell 2002; Martin 2004). Faced with the hallucination argument, and unsatisfied with the standard disjunctivist reply, some ‘new wave’ relationalists explain away the possibility of hallucinations as mere illusions (Alston 1999; Watzl 2010; Ali 2018; Masrour 2020). In this paper, I argue that some of these illusions (as in Chalmers 2005; Ali 2018) are perceptions of internal objects which appear as external ones. Then, in response to (...)
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  • Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing?Sean M. Carroll - 2021 - In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics.
    It seems natural to ask why the universe exists at all. Modern physics suggests that the universe can exist all by itself as a self-contained system, without anything external to create or sustain it. But there might not be an absolute answer to why it exists. I argue that any attempt to account for the existence of something rather than nothing must ultimately bottom out in a set of brute facts; the universe simply is, without ultimate cause or explanation.
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  • Simulation expectation.Teruji Thomas - manuscript
    I present a new argument that we are much more likely to be living in a computer simulation than in the ground-level of reality. (Similar arguments can be marshalled for the view that we are more likely to be Boltzmann brains than ordinary people, but I focus on the case of simulations.) I explain how this argument overcomes some objections to Bostrom’s classic argument for the same conclusion. I also consider to what extent the argument depends upon an internalist conception (...)
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  • Consciousness, psychophysical harmony, and anthropic reasoning.Mario Gomez-Torrente - manuscript
    The thesis, typical among dualists, that there are no necessitation relations between events of consciousness and physical events implies that it is prima facie lucky that in our world the apparently existing psychophysical laws usually match events of consciousness and physical events in a “harmonious” way. The lucky psychophysical laws argument concludes that typical dualism amounts to a psychophysical parallelism that is prima facie too improbable to be true. I argue that an anthropic reasoning in the space of possible worlds (...)
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  • Chaos, ad infinitum.Hayden Wilkinson - manuscript
    Our universe is both chaotic and (most likely) infinite in space and time. But it is within this setting that we must make moral decisions. This presents problems. The first: due to our universe's chaotic nature, our actions often have long-lasting, unpredictable effects; and this means we typically cannot say which of two actions will turn out best in the long run. The second problem: due to the universe's infinite dimensions, and infinite population therein, we cannot compare outcomes by simply (...)
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  • Teleological Arguments for God’s Existence.Jeffrey Koperski & Del Ratzsch - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    -/- Some phenomena within nature exhibit such exquisiteness of structure, function or interconnectedness that many people have found it natural—if not inescapable—to see a deliberative and directive mind behind those phenomena. The mind in question, being prior to nature itself, is typically taken to be supernatural. Philosophically inclined thinkers have both historically and at present labored to shape the relevant intuition into a more formal, logically rigorous inference. The resultant theistic arguments, in their various logical forms, share a focus on (...)
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  • Relativistic Implications for Physical Copies of Conscious States.Andrew Knight - manuscript
    The possibility of algorithmic consciousness depends on the assumption that conscious states can be copied or repeated by sufficiently duplicating their underlying physical states, leading to a variety of paradoxes, including the problems of duplication, teleportation, simulation, self-location, the Boltzmann brain, and Wigner’s Friend. In an effort to further elucidate the physical nature of consciousness, I challenge these assumptions by analyzing the implications of special relativity on evolutions of identical copies of a mental state, particularly the divergence of these evolutions (...)
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  • The Simplicity Assumption and Some Implications of the Simulation Argument for our Civilization.Lorenzo Pieri - manuscript
    According to the most common interpretation of the simulation argument, we are very likely to live in an ancestor simulation. It is interesting to ask if some families of simulations are more likely than others inside the space of all simulations. We argue that a natural probability measure is given by computational complexity: easier simulations are more likely to be run. Remarkably this allows us to extract experimental predictions from the fact that we live in a simulation. For instance we (...)
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  • Worlds in a Stochastic Universe: On the Emergence of World Histories in Minimal Bohmian Mechanics.Alexander Ehmann - 2020 - Dissertation, Lingnan University
    This thesis develops a detailed account of the emergence of for all practical purposes continuous, quasi-classical world histories from the discontinuous, stochastic micro dynamics of Minimal Bohmian Mechanics (MBM). MBM is a non-relativistic quantum theory. It results from excising the guiding equation from standard Bohmian Mechanics (BM) and reinterpreting the quantum equilibrium hypothesis as a stochastic guidance law for the random actualization of configurations of Bohmian particles. On MBM, there are no continuous trajectories linking up individual configurations. Instead, individual configurations (...)
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  • What is the upper limit of value?David Manheim & Anders Sandberg - manuscript
    How much value can our decisions create? We argue that unless our current understanding of physics is wrong in fairly fundamental ways, there exists an upper limit of value relevant to our decisions. First, due to the speed of light and the definition and conception of economic growth, the limit to economic growth is a restrictive one. Additionally, a related far larger but still finite limit exists for value in a much broader sense due to the physics of information and (...)
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  • The physics and metaphysics of Tychistic Bohmian Mechanics.Patrick Duerr & Alexander Ehmann - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 90:168-183.
    The paper takes up Bell's “Everett theory” and develops it further. The resulting theory is about the system of all particles in the universe, each located in ordinary, 3-dimensional space. This many-particle system as a whole performs random jumps through 3N-dimensional configuration space – hence “Tychistic Bohmian Mechanics”. The distribution of its spontaneous localisations in configuration space is given by the Born Rule probability measure for the universal wavefunction. Contra Bell, the theory is argued to satisfy the minimal desiderata for (...)
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