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Sean M. Carroll
California Institute of Technology
  1. Self-Locating Uncertainty and the Origin of Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics.Charles T. Sebens & Sean M. Carroll - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (1):axw004.
    A longstanding issue in attempts to understand the Everett (Many-Worlds) approach to quantum mechanics is the origin of the Born rule: why is the probability given by the square of the amplitude? Following Vaidman, we note that observers are in a position of self-locating uncertainty during the period between the branches of the wave function splitting via decoherence and the observer registering the outcome of the measurement. In this period it is tempting to regard each branch as equiprobable, but we (...)
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  2. Beyond Falsifiability: Normal Science in a Multiverse.Sean M. Carroll - forthcoming - In Richard Dawid, Radin Dardashti & Karim Thebault (eds.), Epistemology of Fundamental Physics: Why Trust a Theory? Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    Cosmological models that invoke a multiverse - a collection of unobservable regions of space where conditions are very different from the region around us - are controversial, on the grounds that unobservable phenomena shouldn't play a crucial role in legitimate scientific theories. I argue that the way we evaluate multiverse models is precisely the same as the way we evaluate any other models, on the basis of abduction, Bayesian inference, and empirical success. There is no scientifically respectable way to do (...)
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    Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing?Sean M. Carroll - forthcoming - In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), Routledge Companion to the 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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  4. Many Worlds, the Born Rule, and Self-Locating Uncertainty.Sean M. Carroll & Charles T. Sebens - 2014 - In Daniele C. Struppa & Jeffrey M. Tollaksen (eds.), Quantum Theory: A Two-Time Success Story. Springer. pp. 157-169.
    We provide a derivation of the Born Rule in the context of the Everett (Many-Worlds) approach to quantum mechanics. Our argument is based on the idea of self-locating uncertainty: in the period between the wave function branching via decoherence and an observer registering the outcome of the measurement, that observer can know the state of the universe precisely without knowing which branch they are on. We show that there is a uniquely rational way to apportion credence in such cases, which (...)
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  5. Does the Universe Need God?Sean M. Carroll - 2012 - In J. B. Stump & Alan G. Padgett (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 185-197.
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  6. In What Sense Is the Early Universe Fine-Tuned?Sean M. Carroll - forthcoming - In Barry Loewer, Brad Weslake & Eric Winsberg (eds.), Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World. Harvard University Press.
    It is commonplace in discussions of modern cosmology to assert that the early universe began in a special state. Conventionally, cosmologists characterize this fine-tuning in terms of the horizon and flatness problems. I argue that the fine-tuning is real, but these problems aren't the best way to think about it: causal disconnection of separated regions isn't the real problem, and flatness isn't a problem at all. Fine-tuning is better understood in terms of a measure on the space of trajectories: given (...)
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  7. Why Boltzmann Brains Are Bad.Sean M. Carroll - forthcoming - In Shamik Dasgupta & Brad Weslake (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science. Routledge.
    Some modern cosmological models predict the appearance of Boltzmann Brains: observers who randomly fluctuate out of a thermal bath rather than naturally evolving from a low-entropy Big Bang. A theory in which most observers are of the Boltzmann Brain type is generally thought to be unacceptable, although opinions differ. I argue that such theories are indeed unacceptable: the real problem is with fluctuations into observers who are locally identical to ordinary observers, and their existence cannot be swept under the rug (...)
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