Re: Justifying the Theory of Everything

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Sun, 08 Jul 2007 13:28:17 -0700

Wei Dai wrote:
> Jason wrote:
>> I have seen two main justifications on this list for the everything
>> ensemble, the first comes from information theory which says the
>> information content of everything is zero (or close to zero). The
>> other is mathematicalism/arithmatical realism which suggests
>> mathematical truth exists independandly of everything else and is the
>> basis for everything.
>> My question to the everything list is: which explaination do you
>> prefer and why? Are these two accounts compatible, incompatible, or
>> complimentary? Additionally, if you subscribe to or know of other
>> justifications I would be interesting in hearing it.
> These two justifications are about equally attractive to me. I also have a
> couple of other justifications.
> Aesthetic: If anything doesn't exist, it's non-existence would constitute an
> element of arbitrariness, given that anything exists at all. We shouldn't
> accept arbitrariness unless there's a good reason for it, and there doesn't
> seem to be one.

It would be a peculiar kind of arbitrariness that had a good reason for it. :-)

But what constitutes a "good reason"? Does a good reason have to show that the result is inevitable? or merely probable?

> Pragmatic: We have to accept that there is at least a non-zero probability
> that all possible universes exist.

This seems to be a tautology: P>0 <=> "possible". The question is what is possible and in what sense of "possible". Certainly many things are logically possible: flying pigs, Santa Claus, and victory in Iraq. But if we assign a non-zero probability to one of theses we are just quantifying the uncertainty of our knowledge.

Brent Meeker

>Unless there is reason to believe that
> the probability is so small as to be negligible (and I don't see such a
> reason), we will need to consider the everything ensemble when making
> predictions and decisions. Given that, why not believe that the probability
> is one? The probabilities for all other possible collections of universes
> can be "folded" into the measure over the everything ensemble in such a way
> that all of the predictions and decisions come out the same way as before.
> >

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Received on Sun Jul 08 2007 - 16:28:15 PDT

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