Re: Evidence for the simulation argument

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 21:34:25 -0800

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> On 3/17/07, *Brent Meeker* <
> <>> wrote:
> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > If only one part of the possible actually exists, that isn't like
> being
> > the one person in a million who has to win the lottery, it is
> more like
> > waking up to find that money has miraculously appeared in your
> bedroom
> > overnight without there being any lottery. We could say "that's
> just the
> > way it is", but it could have been an infinite number of other
> ways as
> > well. On the other hand, if everything exists, it is no surprise
> that
> > you and every other particular thing exist.
> It's no explanation either. It's just "Everything exists and what
> you experience is just what you experience." which Occam's razor
> trimes to "What you experience is just what you experience".
> You disagree that ensemble theories in conjunction with the anthropic
> principle offer a possible explanation for the fine tuning of physical
> constants in our universe (supposing there is fine tuning for the sake
> of argument - I know Victor Stenger disagrees)?

No I would agree that an ensemble theory that includes some measure relative to a well define anthropomorphic principle has some explanatory power. For example I would expect it to show that there is a higher probability of an intelligent life form finding intelligence to be rare and widely scattered. From what we know now, it seems that there could universes in which almost every star had a planet with intelligent life and one would be more likely to find oneself in such a universe than in the one we observe. Vic has only considered "everything" in the very narrow sense of a range of values for the 19 parameters of the standard model - not the much broader "everything" of Tegmark or even Bruno.

>Of course, we are then
> left with trying to explain why the ensemble, but that's the nature of
> any explanation, including theological ones.
> >The only thing that needs
> > ontological explanation is the everything: why everything rather than
> > something or nothing? If it were possible that the reality we
> experience
> > could be a simulation running on an abstract machine in Platonia,
> that
> > would be an answer to this question, because the machine in Platonia
> > can't not run.
> But what is Platonia - Tegmarks all mathematically consistent
> universe? or Bruno's Peano arithmetic - or maybe Torny's finite
> arithmetic (which would be a much smaller "everything").
> And while we're at it, why exclude non-mathematical structures?

I guess that depends on what you mean by "mathematical structures". I would take any non-contradictory set of axioms to define a mathematical structure. I'm not sure what it would mean to include self-contradictory "structures". If you regard "mathematics" as a game of propositions it just means every wff is a theorem. But if you regard "mathematics" as existing (even in Platonia) I'm at a loss.

Brent Meeker

> seems to be no reason why an abstract machine running a simulation of a
> fantastic world should be ontologically privileged compared to the
> fantastic world just existing complete in itself, not generated by any
> computation. This would be closer to most forms of Idealism in Western
> philosophy, including Plato's. Pythagoras was closer to the view that
> everything is made of numbers.
> One response to this idea is that the non-computational worlds are
> overrun with white rabbits, whereas the computational worlds allow the
> calculation of a local measure, such as Russell Standish has described,
> which explains the orderly universe we know. However, this doesn't
> explain why the non-computational white rabbits don't suddenly intrude
> in the next moment: what's to say that their relative measure should be
> less than the orderly computational worlds' relative measure?
> And how do things "run" in Platonia? Do we need temporal modes in
> logic, as well as epistemic ones?
> No, it would be like a block universe.
> Stathis Papaioannou
> >

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Received on Sat Mar 17 2007 - 01:34:47 PDT

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