Thursday, August 14, 2008

A philosopical romp, or, how I was unproductive this afternoon

First, Tyler Cowen points me to "the infinitarian challenge to aggregative ethics." Hyperreals are seriously discussed, and that tickled my fancy, but ultimately the paper is to me another reason not to base my ethics on aggregative utilitarianism.

In the same post, Cowen pointed me to this short, simple anthropic explanation of time's arrow. I read this comment, which blew the argument apart. I then followed its link to a blog post describing how Boltzmann made the same mistake. The reductio ends with you most likely being a "Boltzmann brain," which is a brain in a vat, except that the vat is a region of space-time with the minimal extent needed for your brain to experience what it is experiencing at the moment, including illusary recollections of yesterday.

Reading comments there led me to "canonical quantum gravity and the problem of time," which has more equations than anything I've linked to above, but is still philosophy, just natural philosophy. Bottom line: I like the mathematics and concepts of the consistent histories interpretation best, but I don't accept with the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics that is typically held by proponents of consistent histories.

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