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Observer-Relative Chances in Anthropic Reasoning?

Nick Bostrom
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 52, No. 1 (2000), pp. 93-108
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20012969
Page Count: 16
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Observer-Relative Chances in Anthropic Reasoning?
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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 give rise to paradoxical observer-relative chances. This finding could be taken to give new indirect support to the doomsday argument.

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