Journal Article

Philosophical Implications of Inflationary Cosmology

Joshua Knobe, Ken D. Olum and Alexander Vilenkin

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 57, issue 1, pages 47-67
Published in print March 2006 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online February 2006 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Philosophical Implications of Inflationary Cosmology

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Recent developments in cosmology indicate that every history having a non-zero probability is realized in infinitely many distinct regions of spacetime. Thus, it appears that the universe contains infinitely many civilizations exactly like our own, as well as infinitely many civilizations that differ from our own in any way permitted by physical laws. We explore the implications of this conclusion for ethical theory and for the doomsday argument. In the infinite universe, we find that the doomsday argument applies only to effects which change the average lifetime of all civilizations, and not those which affect our civilization alone.


Physics background

2.1 The number of possible histories is finite

2.2 The universe is infinite

2.3 Every possible history occurs an infinite number of times

Frequency and probability

Inflation contrasted

4.1 Modal realism

4.2 Actualism

4.3 Eternal recurrence

Ethical implications

Universal doomsday

6.1 Application to our civilization in particular

6.2 Universal vs. particular dooms

6.3 Practical applications

Concluding remarks

Journal Article.  9105 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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