On Sep 27, 2:46 am, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:

> 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.

Great suggestion. The wikipedia page was fairly informative, but I'll
probably buy the book anyway. From what I gather, he believes the kind
of free will worth wanting is the appearance (or illusion) that we can
control our behavior to a large extent. I agree with him that we don't
want to be uncaused causes (or uninfluenced influences) of events,
which is how quantum particles appear to behave (i.e.,
stochastically).

> "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.

Technically I think you are right. However, I was only talking about
an infinite universe likes ours that operates in accordance with the
laws of quantum physics. Let me explain by using what I've read of
Victor Stenger and Brian Greene. There are three ingredients in the
argument that all quantum-physical possibilities in our universe
happen infinitely many times. 1) There is an infinite number of Hubble
volumes in our universe, which are all casually disconnected (as the
theory of inflation implies). 2) There is a limit on how much matter
and energy can exist within a region of space of a given size, such as
a Hubble volume. 3) There is only a finite number of possible
configurations of matter, due to the Uncertainty Principle.

I can explain any of these ingredients in more depth if you'd like me
to, but I hope you see that they lead to the conclusion that all
quantum-physical possibilities in our universe are realized infinitely
many times.

Bruno you say, "To have everything happening, you need the universe
being infinitely big, but also homogenous, and robust enough for
making possible gigantic connections and gigantic computations, etc."
I thought that physicists have observed our universe to be homogenous
on very large scales, but perhaps I'm mistaken. See the Cosmological
Principal  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_principle.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "robust enough for making
possible gigantic connections and gigantic computations, etc." but
perhaps the following explanation will be helpful. During the
inflation right before the Big Bang, all of the now disconnected
Hubble volumes were squeezed together and could affect each other.
Brian Greene says they conducted a variety of cosmic handshakes,
establishing, for example, a uniform temperature.

Cheers,

Jon

On Sep 27, 2:46 am, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> 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."
>
> Dunno.
>
>
>
> > 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,
>
> > Jon
>
> Welcome aboard.
>
> Brent
> 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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