Observer-relative chances in anthropic reasoning?

Erkenntnis 52 (1):93-108 (2000)
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Abstract

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 way. The result can be generalized: At least for a very wide range of cases, the weak anthropic principle does not giverise to paradoxical observer-relative chances. This finding could be taken to give new indirect support to the doomsday argument.

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Nick Bostrom
Oxford University

References found in this work

The anthropic cosmological principle.John D. Barrow - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Frank J. Tipler.
Universes.John Leslie - 1989 - New York: Routledge.
Universes.John Leslie - 1989 - New York: Routledge.
The End of the World.John Leslie - 2000 - Mind 109 (433):155-158.

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