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Frank Arntzenius: Expectations, evidence and infinite space-time

Wanneer:wo 18-09-2013 15:15 - 17:00
Waar:Room Omega

Lecture by Frank Arntzenius (University of Oxford), organized by the Dep. of Theoretical Philosophy

According to recent cosmology space-time may very well be infinite (in size). If space-time is infinite then it is very plausible that there are infinitely many beings that have experiences exactly like ours. But then one might wonder what we should infer from the evidence (experiences) that we in fact have. If the world is infinite almost certainly infinitely many people have exactly the evidence that I have, while if the world is finite it is (a priori) extremely unlikely that even one person has exactly the evidence that I have. Should I therefore conclude from my evidence that it is extremely likely that the world is infinite?

In response to puzzles like ‘Sleeping Beauty’ philosophers have formed theories that answer questions like this. Unfortunately most of them have the apparently absurd consequence that we should be almost certain that the world is infinite no matter what our evidence in fact is. I will examine whether we can do better.