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Summary The anthropic principle is a contentious principle of reasoning and confirmation that aims at accounting for selection effects from our place as observers when we evaluate or use theories. It is often invoked in the context of testing cosmological theories. The anthropic principle states that the parameters of the universe must be such that life (or conscious life or observership) is possible. A strong version of the anthropic principle claims that the most likely theories should be those that are the most favorable to the advent of life. This strong version is contentious, as it implies that the universe is somehow designed for life. A weaker version of the anthropic principle claims that theories that are incompatible with the advent of life should be discounted for being empirically inadequate. This weak version is not contentious, but its critiques argue that it is nothing more than a truism of confirmation.
Key works Earman 1987 provides a survey and a sharp critique of different versions of the anthropic principle. See Hacking 1987 for a discussion of the anthropic principle as an inverted gambler's fallacy, and Leslie 1988 and McGrath 1988 for rebuttals. More recently, Bostrom 2002 has sparked renewed interest in anthropic reasoning, advocating the need to revise our principles of confirmation and probabilistic reasoning altogether. See Sober 2004 for a discussion of anthropic reasoning and the argument from design.
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  1. Yuri V. Balashov (1992). Transcendental Background to the Anthropic Reasoning in Cosmology. Man and World 25 (2):115-132.
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  2. John D. Barrow (1986). The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Oxford University Press.
    Ever since Copernicus, scientists have continually adjusted their view of human nature, moving it further and further from its ancient position at the center of Creation. But in recent years, a startling new concept has evolved that places it more firmly than ever in a special position. Known as the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, this collection of ideas holds that the existence of intelligent observers determines the fundamental structure of the Universe. In its most radical version, the Anthropic Principle asserts that (...)
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  3. Oleg Bazaluk (ed.) (2011). Philosophy and Cosmology 2011 (The Journal of International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology (ISPC) ). ISPC.
    Philosophy and Cosmology is an open access, peer-reviewed and refereed journal that focuses on theoretical and conceptual problems and issues in philosophical and cosmological research. Philosophy and Cosmology is published by International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology. The objective of Philosophy and Cosmology is to promote exchange and collaboration among philosophers, social, technical and natural science researchers throughout the world. In pursuit of this objective the journal not only publishes high quality research papers but also ensures that the published papers (...)
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  4. Oleg Bazaluk (ed.) (2010). Philosophy and Cosmology 2010 (The Journal of International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology (ISPC) ). ISPC.
    The Journal «Philosophy and Cosmology» (ISSN 2307-3705) was established by Oleg Bazaluk as a press organ of International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology at 2004. This Society was established in the setting of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitskiy State Pedagogical University. Initially the Journal was printed as a special edition of Ukrainian philosophical journal «Sententiae» (one’s Chief Editor is Oleg Khoma) and covered academic scientific, philosophical and amateur researches of the space problematic. Since 2008, Journal «Philosopy and Cosmology» is an independent printed issue at (...)
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  5. Oleg Bazaluk (2009). World Existence and “Evolved Matter” as its Modern Model. Philosophy and Cosmology 1 (1):3-37.
    Along the strike of this article we’ll try to perform two tasks. The first one is to review the world existence but not in form of concept but in form of modern scientific-philosophic system of views on the Universe structure and on the processes of formation and development of non-organic world, worlds of life and intelligence. The second one is to answer the question “what is the essence of human life?” through the scientific-philosophic understanding of the world existence.
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  6. Oleg Bazaluk (ed.) (2009). Philosophy and Cosmology 2009 (The Journal of International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology (ISPC) ). ISPC.
    Philosophy and Cosmology is an open access, peer-reviewed and refereed journal that focuses on theoretical and conceptual problems and issues in philosophical and cosmological research. Philosophy and Cosmology is published by International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology. The objective of Philosophy and Cosmology is to promote exchange and collaboration among philosophers, social, technical and natural science researchers throughout the world. In pursuit of this objective the journal not only publishes high quality research papers but also ensures that the published papers (...)
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  7. Oleg Bazaluk (ed.) (2008). Philosophy and Cosmology 2008 (The Journal of International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology (ISPC) ). ISPC.
    Philosophy and Cosmology is an open access, peer-reviewed and refereed journal that focuses on theoretical and conceptual problems and issues in philosophical and cosmological research. Philosophy and Cosmology is published by International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology. The objective of Philosophy and Cosmology is to promote exchange and collaboration among philosophers, social, technical and natural science researchers throughout the world. In pursuit of this objective the journal not only publishes high quality research papers but also ensures that the published papers (...)
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  8. Oleg Bazaluk (2003). The Origin of Mankind A New Cosmological Conception. Porogi.
    I present my own vision of the material world's formation. I think this new cosmological model deepens and extends the modern points of view on the universe. It allows to follow the evolution of matter up to forming of human society. I had to rethink a lot and even to change and to surrender in some degree my points of view stated in my previous publications. But these changes had a partial character and naturally resulted from the evolution of my (...)
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  9. Oleg Bazaluk (2003). T I M E in the Light of a New Cosmological Conception. Porogi.
    This small book continues the theoretical study on the structure of the universe. It examines the category of “time” in the light of a new cosmological model proposed by the author in his book “The Origin of Mankind”. It is generally accepted that after researches of A. Einstein, А. Minkovsky and others space and time are considered in their interrelation, as the continuum. Nevertheless, the category of “time” is still a bone of contention and a cause of a great deal (...)
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  10. Oleg Bazaluk (ed.) ( 2012). Philosophy and Cosmology 2012 (The Journal of International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology (ISPC) ). ISPC.
    The Journal «Philosophy and Cosmology» (ISSN 2307-3705) was established by Oleg Bazaluk as a press organ of International Society of Philosophy and Cosmology at 2004. This Society was established in the setting of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitskiy State Pedagogical University. Initially the Journal was printed as a special edition of Ukrainian philosophical journal «Sententiae» (Editor-in-Chief - Oleg Khoma) and covered scientific and philosophical researches of the space problematic. Since 2008, Journal «Philosophy and Cosmology» is an independent printed issue. Since 2009, together with coming (...)
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  11. Claus Beisbart & Tobias Jung (2006). Privileged, Typical, or Not Even That? – Our Place in the World According to the Copernican and the Cosmological Principles. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (2):225 - 256.
    If we are to constrain our place in the world, two principles are often appealed to in science. According to the Copernican Principle, we do not occupy a privileged position within the Universe. The Cosmological Principle, on the other hand, says that our observations would roughly be the same, if we were located at any other place in the Universe. In our paper we analyze these principles from a logical and philosophical point of view. We show how they are related, (...)
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  12. Yann Benétreau-Dupin (2015). Blurring Out Cosmic Puzzles. Philosophy of Science 82 (5):879–891.
    The Doomsday argument and anthropic reasoning are two puzzling examples of probabilistic confirmation. In both cases, a lack of knowledge apparently yields surprising conclusions. Since they are formulated within a Bayesian framework, they constitute a challenge to Bayesianism. Several attempts, some successful, have been made to avoid these conclusions, but some versions of these arguments cannot be dissolved within the framework of orthodox Bayesianism. I show that adopting an imprecise framework of probabilistic reasoning allows for a more adequate representation of (...)
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  13. Yann Benétreau-Dupin (2015). Probabilistic Reasoning in Cosmology. Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario
    Cosmology raises novel philosophical questions regarding the use of probabilities in inference. This work aims at identifying and assessing lines of arguments and problematic principles in probabilistic reasoning in cosmology. -/- The first, second, and third papers deal with the intersection of two distinct problems: accounting for selection effects, and representing ignorance or indifference in probabilistic inferences. These two problems meet in the cosmology literature when anthropic considerations are used to predict cosmological parameters by conditionalizing the distribution of, e.g., the (...)
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  14. F. Bertola & Umberto Curi (eds.) (1988). The Anthropic Principle: Proceedings of the Second Venice Conference on Cosmology and Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.
    The questions that were purely in the realms of philosophy are now beginning to be answered by science. The second Venice Conference on Cosmology and Philosophy explores the anthropic principle which states that the Universe has the conditions we observe because we are here. Out of all possible universes we can only experience the restricted class that permits observers. This realization has profound implications for cosmology, philosophy and theology; all of which are explored in this book by thirteen contributors who (...)
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  15. Nick Bostrom (2002). Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy. Routledge.
    _Anthropic Bias_ explores how to reason when you suspect that your evidence is biased by "observation selection effects"--that is, evidence that has been filtered by the precondition that there be some suitably positioned observer to "have" the evidence. This conundrum--sometimes alluded to as "the anthropic principle," "self-locating belief," or "indexical information"--turns out to be a surprisingly perplexing and intellectually stimulating challenge, one abounding with important implications for many areas in science and philosophy. There are the philosophical thought experiments and paradoxes: (...)
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  16. Nick Bostrom (2000). Observer-Relative Chances in Anthropic Reasoning? Erkenntnis 52 (1):93-108.
    John Leslie presents a thought experiment to show that chances are sometimes observer-relative in a paradoxical way. The pivotal assumption in his argument – a version of the weak anthropic principle – is the same as the one used to get the disturbing Doomsday argument off the ground. I show that Leslie's thought experiment trades on the sense/reference ambiguity and is fallacious. I then describe a related case where chances are observer-relative in an interesting way. But not in a paradoxical (...)
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  17. Brandon Carter & William H. McCrea (1983). The Anthropic Principle and its Implications for Biological Evolution [and Discussion]. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences 310 (1512):347-363.
    In the form in which it was originally expounded, the anthropic principle was presented as a warning to astrophysical and cosmological theorists of the risk of error in the interpretation of astronomical and cosmological information unless due account is taken of the biological restraints under which the information was acquired. However, the converse message is also valid: biological theorists also run the risk of error in the interpretation of the evolutionary record unless they take due heed of the astrophysical restraints (...)
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  18. Milan M. Ćirković (2002). Anthropic Fluctuations Vs. Weak Anthropic Principle. Foundations of Science 7 (4):453-463.
    A modern assessment of the classical Boltzmann-Schuetz argument for large-scale entropy fluctuations as the origin of our observable cosmological domain is given.The emphasis is put on the central implication of this picture which flatly contradicts the weak anthropic principle as an epistemological statement about the universe. Therefore, to associate this picture with the anthropic principle as it is usually done is unwarranted. In particular, Feynman's criticism of theanthropic principle based on the entropy-fluctuation picture is a product of this semantic confusion.
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  19. William Lane Craig (1988). Barrow and Tipler on the Anthropic Principle Vs. Divine Design. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (3):389-395.
    Barrow and Tipler’s contention that the Anthropic Principle is obviously true and removes the need for an explanation of fine-tuning fails because the Principle is trivially true, and only within the context of a World Ensemble, whose existence is not obvious, does a selection effect become significant. Their objections to divine design as an explanation of fine-tuning are seen to be misconceived.
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  20. Louis Crane (2010). Possible Implications of the Quantum Theory of Gravity: An Introduction to the Meduso-Anthropic Principle. [REVIEW] Foundations of Science 15 (4):369-373.
    If we assume that the constants of nature fluctuate near the singularity when a black hole forms (assuming, also, that physical black holes really do form singularities) then a process of evolution of universes becomes possible. We explore the implications of such a process for the origin of life, interstellar travel, and the human future.
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  21. John Jefferson Davis (1987). The Design Argument, Cosmic “Fine Tuning,” and the Anthropic Principle. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 22 (3):139 - 150.
  22. John Earman (1987). The Sap Also Rises: A Critical Examination of the Anthropic Principle. American Philosophical Quarterly 24 (4):307 - 317.
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  23. Gilbert Fulmer (2001). A Fatal Logical Flaw in Anthropic Principle Design Arguments. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 49 (2):101-110.
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  24. Alfred Gierer, (2015) Scientific Rationality, Human Consciousness, and Pro-Religious Ideas.
    The essay discusses immanent versus transcendent concepts in the context of the art of living, as well as the understanding of human consciousness in the context of religion. Science provides us with a far reaching understanding of natural processes, including biological evolution, but also with deep insights into its own intrinsic limitations. This is consistent with more than one interpretation on the “metatheoretical“, that is on the philosophical and cultural level, including liberal, enlightened forms of religion as well as agnostic (...)
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  25. Alfred Gierer (2009). Science, Religion and Basic Biological Issues That Are Open to Interpretation. English Translation Of: Preprint 388, Mpi for History of Science.
    This is an English translation of my essay: Alfred Gierer Wissenschaft, Religion und die deutungsoffenen Grundfragen der Biologie. Mpi for the History of Science, preprint 388, 1-21, also in philpapers. Range and limits of science are given by the universal validity of physical laws, and by intrinsic limitations, especially in self-referential contexts. In particular, neurobiology should not be expected to provide a full understanding of consciousness and the mind. Science cannot provide, by itself, an unambiguous interpretation of the natural order (...)
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  26. Ian Hacking (1987). The Inverse Gambler's Fallacy: The Argument From Design. The Anthropic Principle Applied to Wheeler Universes. Mind 96 (383):331-340.
  27. Joseph Y. Halpern (2015). The Role of the Protocol in Anthropic Reasoning. Ergo, an Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2 (9):195-206.
    I show how thinking in terms of the protocol used can help clarify problems related to anthropic reasoning and self-location, such as the Doomsday Argument and the Sleeping Beauty Problem.
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  28. Errol E. Harris (1991). Cosmos and Anthropos: A Philosophical Interpretation of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Humanity Books.
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  29. Michał Heller (1990). Wśród Książek [Recenzja] J.D. Barrow, F. J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, 1986. J. D. Barrow, The World Within the World, 1988. General Relativity - An Einstein Centenary Survey, Red.: S. W. Hawking, W. Israel, 1979. Three Hundered Year. [REVIEW] Zagadnienia Filozoficzne W Nauce 12.
  30. Marcus Hutter (2010). Observer Localization in Multiverse Theories. In Harald Fritzsch & K. K. Phua (eds.), Proceedings of the Conference in Honour of Murray Gell-Mann's 80th Birthday. World Scientific
    The progression of theories suggested for our world, from ego- to geo- to helio-centric models to universe and multiverse theories and beyond, shows one tendency: The size of the described worlds increases, with humans being expelled from their center to ever more remote and random locations. If pushed too far, a potential theory of everything (TOE) is actually more a theories of nothing (TON). Indeed such theories have already been developed. I show that including observer localization into such theories is (...)
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  31. Jonathan Katz (1988). Why There Is Something: The Anthropic Principle and Improbable Events. Dialogue 27 (1):111.
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  32. John Leslie (1992). Design and the Anthropic Principle. Biology and Philosophy 7 (3):349-354.
  33. John Leslie (1992). Time and the Anthropic Principle. Mind 101 (403):521-540.
    Carter’s anthropic principle reminds us that intelligent life can find itself only in life-permitting times, places or universes. The principle concerns a possible observational selection effect, not a designing deity. It has no special concern with humans, nor does it say that intelligent life is inevitable and common. Barrow and Tipler, who discuss all this, are not biologically ignorant. As argued in "Universes" (Leslie, 1989) they may well be right in thinking that "fine tuning" of force strengths and particle masses, (...)
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  34. John Leslie (1986). Anthropic Explanations in Cosmology. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:87 - 95.
    Cosmologists using the Anthropic Principle claim that if our universe had been much different then nobody would exist to observe it. This may become explanatory when one accepts the actual existence of multiple "universes": gigantic, largely or entirely separate systems having very varied properties. Ian Hacking has urged, though, that an Inverse Gambler's Fallacy is committed during many attempts to formulate anthropic explanations. Besides disagreeing with him, the paper makes several further points in support of such explanations, in particular against (...)
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  35. John Leslie (1983). Observership in Cosmology: The Anthropic Principle. Mind 92 (368):573-579.
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  36. John Leslie (1982). Anthropic Principle, World Ensemble, Design. American Philosophical Quarterly 19 (2):141 - 151.
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  37. Ernan McMullin (1993). Indifference Principle and Anthropic Principle in Cosmology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 24 (3):359-389.
    The successes scored by the big bang model of cosmic evolution in the 1960’s led to an intensive application of quantum theory to the problem of how the expansion might have begun and what its likely first stages were. It seemed as though an incredibly precise setting of the initial conditions would have been needed in order that a long-lived galactic universe containing heavy elements might develop. One response was to suppose that the fine-tuning could somehow be explained by the (...)
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  38. Ulrich Mohrhoff (2002). Why the Laws of Physics Are Just So. Foundations of Physics 32 (8):1313-1324.
    Does a world that contains chemistry entail the validity of both the standard model of elementary particle physics and general relativity, at least as effective theories? This article shows that the answer may very well be affirmative. It further suggests that the very existence of stable, spatially extended material objects, if not the very existence of the physical world, may require the validity of these theories.
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  39. Ulrich J. Mohrhoff, First-Person Plural Quantum Mechanics.
    Doing justice to quantum mechanics calls for a deeper examination of the relations between our experience, its objects, and its subjects than either third-person interpretations or the first-person singular interpretation of the QBist permit. The metaphysical space opened by Bohr's employment of the "Kantian wedge" between the objective world, about which we can communicate, and the world "in itself" allows quantum mechanics to unfold its metaphysical potential. This in turn makes it possible to go a long way towards bridging the (...)
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  40. Jesus Mosterin, Anthropic Explanations in Cosmology.
    The claims of some authors to have introduced a new type of explanation in cosmology, based on the anthropic principle, are examined and found wanting. The weak anthropic principle is neither anthropic nor a principle. Either in its direct or in its Bayesian form, it is a mere tautology lacking explanatory force and unable to yield any prediction of previously unknown results. It is a pattern of inference, not of explanation. The strong anthropic principle is a gratuitous speculation with no (...)
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  41. A. T. Nuyen (2001). The "Ethical Anthropic Principle" and the Religious Ethics of Levinas. Journal of Religious Ethics 29 (3):427 - 442.
    Why did Levinas choose Isaiah 45:7 ("I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all that") as a superscription of his essay on evil? This article explores the role of evil in Levinas's religious ethics. The author discusses the structure of evil as revealed phenomenologically and juxtaposes it to the structure of subjectivity found in the writings of Levinas. The idea of the "ethical anthropic principle," modeled upon the cosmic anthropic principle, is then used to link evil to (...)
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  42. Joel Pust (2007). Cartesian Knowledge and Confirmation. Journal of Philosophy 104 (6):269-289.
    Bayesian conceptions of evidence have been invoked in recent arguments regarding the existence of God, the hypothesis of multiple physical universes, and the Doomsday Argument. Philosophers writing on these topics often claim that, given a Bayesian account of evidence, our existence or something entailed by our existence (perhaps in conjunction with some background knowledge or assumption) may serve as evidence for each of us. In this paper, I argue that this widespread view is mistaken. The mere fact of one's existence (...)
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  43. Alasdair Richmond (2000). Epicurean Evolution and the Anthropic Principle. American Philosophical Quarterly 37 (2):149 - 161.
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  44. Kevin Sharpe & Jonathan Walgate (2002). The Anthropic Principle: Life in the Universe. Zygon 37 (4):925-939.
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  45. Quentin Smith, Time and Degrees of Existence: The Big Bang Anthropic Principle Religion Atheism.
    the rise of analytic philosophy early in the 20th century, specifically, with Russell's 1905 article "On Denoting", for in 1904 and earlier years he and G.E. Moore held a sort of Meinongian theory of degrees of existence (subsistence and existence are distinguished, with existence being a higher..
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  46. Quentin Smith (1994). Anthropic Explanations in Cosmology. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (3):371 – 382.
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  47. Quentin Smith (1985). The Anthropic Principle and Many-Worlds Cosmologies. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63 (3):336 – 348.
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  48. Victor J. Stenger (2000). Natural Explanations for the Anthropic Coincidences. Philo 3 (2):50-67.
    The anthropic coincidences are widely claimed to provide evidence for intelligent creation in the universe. However, neither data northeory support this conclusion. No basis exists for assuming that a random universe would not have some kind of life. Calculations of the properties of universes having different physical constants than ours indicate that long-lived stars are not unusual, and thus most universes should have time for complex systems of some type to evolve. A multi-universe scenario is not ruled out, since no (...)
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  49. Frank J. Tipler (1988). The Anthropic Principle: A Primer for Philosophers. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:27 - 48.
    An outline of the three basic versions of the Anthropic Principle-the Weak, the Strong, and the Final Anthropic Principles-is given from a philosophical point of view.
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  50. Steven Weinstein, Anthropic Reasoning in Multiverse Cosmology and String Theory.
    Anthropic arguments in multiverse cosmology and string theory rely on the weak anthropic principle (WAP). We show that the principle, though ultimately a tautology, is nevertheless ambiguous. It can be reformulated in one of two unambiguous ways, which we refer to as WAP_1 and WAP_2. We show that WAP_2, the version most commonly used in anthropic reasoning, makes no physical predictions unless supplemented by a further assumption of "typicality", and we argue that this assumption is both misguided and unjustified. WAP_1, (...)
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