Re: The Anthropic Principle Boundary Conditions

From: Fred Chen <>
Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 23:48:35 -0700

> wrote:
> >
> > The Anthropic principle has been discussed numerous times before. There are
> > many versions going around. I just want to make a point which I think is
> > crucial.
> >
> > First let me state some of these principles quoted from Barrow and Tipler
> >
> > Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP): The observed values of all physical and
> > cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on values
> > restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life
> > can evolve and the requirement that Universe be old enough for it to have
> > already done so.
> > [Barrow and Tipler are not explicit, but this principle implies the requires
> > the existence of conscious observers.]
> >
> > Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP): The Universe must have those properties
> > which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its history.
> > [The emphasis here is on the world "must" which implies that the Universe is
> > the way it is by design.. at least this is the way most people interpret
> > this. This version implies the existence of a creator. Its religious
> > connotations makes it unscientific]

I agree with Russell that WAP is a statement of consistency of what we observe with
our existence. The SAP addresses the apparent fine-tuning that seems to be needed
to fit all the observations together.

Russell Standish wrote:

> It may be commonly interpreted this way, but I would disagree that it
> should be. In my Occam paper I mention that the SAP implies either a
> Divine creator, or a Plenitude (ensemble). I vaguely remember someone
> raising a third possible implication, although for the life of me I
> can't remember what.

A third possibility is that, despite the apparent fine-tuning, ours is the only
universe, and it is a quantum fluke. The Plenitude or all-universes ensemble only
helps if you have probabilities or measures involved to make the fine-tuning less

George continues:

> > Now to my point.
> > The essence of the anthropic principle requires OBSERVERS. But it does not
> > require LIFE. We can imagine a universe somewhere in the plenitude in which
> > the conditions are suitable for the existence of at least one non-reproducing
> > sentient being. To explain its existence, let's say that fundamental
> > particles in this universe (atoms or maybe, more conveniently, naturally
> > existing logical gates) got together by chance to form some kind of computer.
> > (Very unlikely scenario but not impossible). This "computer" can think and
> > can observe its world but is not "alive" in the sense that it cannot
> > reproduce.
> > How would such a creature state the Anthropic principle? Certainly not in
> > terms of carbon life, not even in terms of life. Its version would simply
> > state the reverse causal assertion:
> > The world is the way it is, because I am what I am --- I am, therefore the
> > world is.

Yes, the observer is key. It would be interesting to learn this being's sense of
fine-tuning. The last sentence seems a bit strong. It seems we are going full
circle, backing away from the Copernican viewpoint, and coming dangerously close to

> Participatory Anthropic Principle (PAP): Observers are necessary to bring the
> Universe into being. [ As I mentioned to Russell, this version supported by
> Wheeler implies that observers, have some kind of magical ability to make
> things happen... Who needs the MWI with this approach? You might as well
> stick with the old fashion Copenhagen school!]

We don't need to go that far; observers should only be necessary to observe.

Received on Tue May 23 2000 - 23:58:13 PDT

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