On 9/26/2011 10:35 PM, nihil0 wrote:
It's a little late for this post since I've already posted 2 or 3
things, but I figured I might as well introduce myself.

I'm majoring at philosophy at the University of Michigan, however I'm
studying abroad for a trimester at Oxford. I turn 21 on Oct. 4.

The main questions I've been researching are the following:

1. What kind of free will is worth wanting, and do we have it, despite
the deterministic evolution of the Schrodinger Equation?

I think Daniel Dennett's book "Elbow Room" is an excellent defense of compatibilist free will and why it is the only kind worth having.

2. Recent cosmological evidence indicates that our universe is
infinitely big, and everything that is physically possible happens an
infinite number of times.

"Everything that is physically possible" is not very well defined. And in any case it doesn't follow that in an infinite universe everything possible must happen infinitely many times. For example it might be that almost all universes are uninteresting and barren and only a finite number are interesting like ours.

Does this imply that I can't make a
difference to the total (or per capita) amount of well-being in the
world? I used to be a utilitarian until I read Nick Bostrom's paper
"The Infinitarian Challenge to Aggretive Ethics."


3. Can only mathematical truths be known for certain? Can you know
something without knowing it for certain?

Sure. In fact I'm not so sure mathematical truths can always be known for certain. For example the four-color theorem has a proof so long that it is hard to be sure it is complete and has no errors. I think it has only been checked by computer. And we know computer programs can have bugs.

4. Do the laws of physics determine (i.e., enforce) events, or do they
merely describe patterns and regularities that we have observed?

It must be the latter, since we change the laws of physics as we get new information. But I wouldn't say "merely". It's quite a feat to have predictively successful theories.

I would be grateful if anyone could shed some light on any of these
questions. I'm very impressed with what I've read so far from people.

Glad to be here,


Welcome aboard.

Each philosopher knows a lot but, as a whole, philosophers don't know
anything. If they did, they would be scientists.
      --- Ludwig Krippahl   :-)

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